One of the most rewarding aspects of being a legislator is seeing the positive impact legislation has on Hoosiers. It is truly a collaborative effort, Republicans and Democrats, to make a real difference and craft sound legislation. Every bill is crafted to improve the lives of Hoosiers by way of education, the economy, core services and all the other areas under the umbrella of government.
This past week, I had the honor of chairing the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee on behalf of Chairman Rep. Kubacki (R-Syracuse). As the vice-chairman of the committee, it is my responsibility to fill in for the chair if she is unable to attend. It was an enjoyable learning experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
Taking on that responsibility means a lot to me. As a legislator, I feel that is important to not only be knowledgeable about the topics being discussed, but to be open-minded as well. Senate Bill (SB) 305 was discussed in committee, adding to the requirements for child care facilities to receive federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) voucher payments, which are funded by a federal block grant with a match by the state. Currently, more than 34,000 children are served by the program with another 9,700 on the waiting list.
There are five types of child care providers in Indiana. Licensed centers and licensed homes are directly regulated by the Bureau of Child Care. Legally licensed exempt providers and legally licensed exempt centers do not need to be licensed. These include home providers caring for just a few children or after school programs meeting certain criteria. The last type, unlicensed registered ministries, have only a basic registration requirement but can seek to participate in the Voluntary Certification Program.
To receive CCDF funds, a child care provider must meet the Provider Eligibility Standards (PES) set by the Legislature. Licensed providers already meet these requirements and are automatically eligible to receive CCDF funding. About 76.3 percent of licensed centers, 91.1 percent of licensed homes and 69.8 percent of registered ministries participate in the CCDF program.
SB 305 mandates that for employees of a child care facility younger than 18 years old must be supervised by an adult and have parental permission to transport a child. The child care facility must also have a written discipline policy in place. Giving money to a child care center implies that the state trusts the providers, so we want to be sure of the safety of children put into their hands.
If taxpayer money, your money, is being spent on these programs, the state should ensure that children in these facilities are being well cared for. Essentially, we are trying to make sure that every child care facility is a great place for kids to spend their time. Our goal is to keep children safe and help families obtain quality child care. Our children are our future, and we should be doing everything in our power to help them succeed.
(State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.)