This article looks at Massachusetts regulations and policies for licensed family child care providers. All information will be presented in English, however regulations can be found in Spanish and Portuguese by visiting this page.
DEEC FCC Regulations 2010
Can you say this in English, please?
In the field of family child care, there are people from many backgrounds. Experience, education, and motivation is different for every provider. While the regulations and policies that have to be followed are available online and in print when requested, it can be difficult to pin point exactly what the State is looking for.
This is especially true for regulations that are purposefully ambiguous. Why would the State do that? It is frustrating for many providers who just want to be following the legal requirements for their business. The purpose for ambiguous regulations is so that the DEEC, Department of Early Education and Care, can apply the regulations as stringently as possible in the best interest of the children involved.
HEY! I thought you were going to do this in English?
Sorry. The rule that works in one home to provide the safest environment, might not work in another home. The rules need to be just a little flexible so that the greatest amount of caution can be applied, as needed.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of regulations, but they are really the basics for providing a safe and healthy environment for young children. If you have ventured down the path for higher levels of QRIS or NAFCC accreditation, then you know there is plenty of room for more stringent rules, guidelines, and policies.
I'd like to make a list of the current regulations (November 2016) that is easily read. It is not meant as a replacement of the official regulations and should not be used as the sole resource for setting up your child care. As a provider, it is your responsibility to know, understand, and adhere to these regulations. Your license is proof of your agreement and ability to provide a safe and healthy environment for young children. Any variance from that agreement could lead to non-compliance reports, suspension of license, revoking of license, or a 51A report made to DCF.
These are the sections of 606 CMR 7
7.03 Licensure and Approval
7.05 Interactions Among Educators and Children
7.06 Curriculum and Progress Reports
7.07 Physical Facility Requirements
7.08 Family Involvement
7.09 Educator Qualifications and Development
7.10 Ratios, Group Sizes and Supervision
7.11 Health and Safety
7.12 Nutrition and Food Service
7.14 Applicability and Effective Date
The following is an abbreviated version of a single section of family child care regulations.
*Note* A large part of this section is going over what you need in your children's files. Almost all of the information can be found in the Enrollment Packet and Sample Forms Packet. Some of the most common exceptions are ongoing medical issues, custody agreements, IFSP/IEP's, and alternate or lack of immunizations.
(1) You need to have the right qualifications to run a child care. If you have staff, they must also have the correct qualifications. You can only care for children as it is listed on your license.
(2) Unauthorized Activities. Things you cannot do.
You need written parent permission for children to do non-child care activities. Activities you need written permission for include, but are not limited to:
- fund raising
- publicity, including photographs and participation in the mass media
- screening, research or unusual treatment.
You need written parent permission to give out or publish pictures and/or descriptions of the children in your care.
(3) Transitions. This is for transitions into your program, to a different part of your program, or out of your program.
You have to help the child get ready for the change.
- Get the parent's permission and talk to the new care giver about the child.
- Help the child understand the change that is happening in a way that they will understand.
You have to give the parents a specific reason in writing for terminating or suspending a child from your care. You must include any information about how or when a child care return.
(4) Record Requirements.
You need to keep written records of these things in your FCC file.
- daily attendance for each child, include when they are dropped off and picked up
- a method of knowing exactly who is present on the premises at any given point in the day
- write down when you do fire drills
You need to keep your records organized
- write neatly, sign and date each thing in your FCC file
- Update your files at least once a year, unless the regulations say to do it more often
Keep attendance records for 5 years
Keep children's files for 5 years
If a child leaves, you must provide a copy of their file, if the parents request it
(5) Staff Records. You have to keep a file for every person on your staff, including you
You need a physical and immunization record for each staff person, you need a written statement of any limitations an employee has.
You need copies of licenses, certifications and registrations held, including, but not limited to, motor vehicle operator’s license (if the staff member transports children) and EEC educator qualification.
You need copies of certificates or PQ registry summary for orientation, training, and professional development.
(6) Transportation Records. If you use vehicles to transport children, you need a copy of each vehicles current registration, inspection, and insurance
(7) Children’s Records. You need an organized file for each child. It has to include the following things:
(a) Enrollment Packet - There are several pages and they must all be filled out completely by the parent.
- a-i: All of the required items are part of the sample enrollment packet that DEEC provides. Save yourself some time and use their form: http://www.mass.gov/edu/docs/eec/licensing/forms/family-child-care/family-child-care-enrollment-packet.pdf
- If there is a parent that cannot pick up or contact the child, then copies of any custody agreements, court orders, and restraining orders pertaining to the child must be in their file.
- consent for the child’s transportation plan, This will be discussed in section 7.13. There is a basic transportation permission section on page 6 of the enrollment packet.
- permission to transport a child to a medical facility and for the child to receive emergency medical treatment. This is on page 6 of the enrollment packet.
- permission to administer basic first aid and/or CPR. This is on page 6 of the enrollment packet.
- a list of any person(s) authorized in writing by the parent to take the child from the program or receive the child at the end of the day. This is on page 1 and 2 of the enrollment packet.
- written parental consent for a child to participate in off-site activities. This is page 9 of the Sample Forms Packet.
- written parental consent for older school age children to leave the program. This is page 5 of the Sample Forms Packet.
- You need written permission before allowing observation of children by anyone other than yourself, your certified assistants, or regular assistants. There is no form in the Sample Forms Packet. If it is for a single child, then that parent can provide a written note. If it is a general observation that will not single out any children, then you can make a general permission form for all of the parents to sign.
- written consent for children to use an on-site swimming pool. This is page 10 of the Sample Forms Packet. This is for an actual swimming pool, not a wading pool or kiddie pool. There are rules especially for kiddie/wading pools that will be discussed in a later section.
- written consent for the use of unanticipated, non-prescription and topical, non-prescription medications, if applicable. This is on page 6 of the enrollment packet.
- written consent for children to sleep in the same room with children of the opposite sex during regular overnight care. There is no form for this. You will need to have the parent provide a written note that their child can sleep in the same room with the opposite gender at night.
- medical records. (a-c) With in 1 month of the child's first day, you need a copy of their physical, immunization record, and lead test (For children 9mo-3yrs, for children age 4 *if* they live in a high risk environment for lead. The Department of Public Health determines if they are at high risk.). School age children enrolled in public school do not need to provide this information. This is page 8 of the enrollment packet, but most doctors will print the information on their own letterhead. You can use this in place of page 8 of the enrollment packet.
- developmental history and daily schedule. This is on pages 4-5 of the enrollment packet.
- Include a statement in your handbook about having an open door policy. Have the parents sign that they received a copy of the handbook. This is on page 3 of the enrollment packet.
- annual physical examinations, updated immunizations, and lead screening
- If the parents give it to you, keep a copy of their results of vision, hearing and dental screenings. If you give those screenings at your program, you will need prior parental permission, to insure that the screenings are conducted by qualified personnel; and communicate the results to the parents in writing.
- a record of any medications administered to the child. This is page 7 of the Sample Forms Packet.
- documentation of parent notification of emergency treatment. Write an incident report for injuries. You can make your own or use page 11-12 of the Sample Forms Packet.
- a copy of the child’s individual health care plan. If a child has an ongoing medical condition, such as an allergy, modifications for eating, special diet, physical disability, etc, then you will need a note from their doctor stating how to provide care for that condition.
- a record of any referrals made. This is for referrals to outside specialists, such as social workers, early intervention teachers, etc. There is not a sample form for this. We will look at this in more detail in a later section.
- documentation of parental authorizations. This is literally repeating the points above for the enrollment packet.
- copies of injury and incident reports. Again, write incident reports, as stated above.
- copies of periodic progress reports. All children in your care will need progress reports. Their age determines how often they will need one. We will look at this more closely in a later section. You can use these samples from the DEEC or do a narrative like this.
- copies of IFPS and IEP's as provided by parents. If you write an individual goals for a child, keep a copy of that.
- all pertinent correspondence concerning the child. This could be letters the parents give you, emails from parents, therapists, or specialists, emails/letters from social workers or your system.
(8) Children’s Record Exceptions. These are things you do not need and/or might be different depending on the families needs.
- No immunization record is needed if there is a conflict of religious reasons or the child's doctor recommends that the child not have immunizations. Notice must be provided in writing for the child's file.
- School age children can have either a note written by the parent that states their school has physical/immunization/lead screening information on file -or- the parents can provide a copy of their physical/immunization/lead screening for your file.
(9) Updating Records. Children's files must be updated at least one a year. This is on page 3 of the Sample Packet Form.
(10) Amending the Child’s Record
- Parents can add, delete, or change things in their children's file at any time.
- Parents can request a meeting to discuss their children's file and to clarify any objections they have about information in their child's file.
- You must give the parents written notice within one week if you are going to add, delete, or change things in their child's file as a result of your meeting with them. You must make those changes immediately.
(11) Charge for Copies. You can charge a reasonable fee if the parents request a copy of their child's file. Keep in mind that above in 4(2)(e), DEEC states that after a child leaves you must provide a copy of the child's file if the parents request it.
(12) Confidentiality and Distribution of Records and Information. Children's files and information is confidential.You may not give their information to people or talk about their information with people unless you have written permission from the parents. If the parents request to look at their child's record, you have to let them.
- If the parents request to look at the child's file, you have to let them. If the court requests to look at the child's file, you have to notify the parents that it is happening. Only yourself, your staff, DEEC, and the court system, when subpoenaed, can look at the child's file without explicit written permission from the parents.
- You have two business days to let parents look at the child's file after they ask for it. You have to let them look at the whole file; you cannot take things out so that they cannot see it.
- If the parents request a copy of the child's file, you have to give it to them. The parents can request that you send it to someone other than themselves, like a social worker or early intervention specialist.
- You have to keep track of who looks at and/or gets a copy of the child's file and when. Keep this record in their file.
- The record of who gets to view a child's file needs to have: the name, signature, and position of the person releasing or distributing the information; the date; the portions of the record which were distributed or released; the purpose of such distribution or release; and the signature of the person to whom the information is distributed or released.
- The only people who get to view the log are the child's parents, yourself (or your staff who takes care of children's files), and DEEC.
(13) Children with Disabilities. You have to accept applications for children who have special needs. You have to make reasonable accommodations in your program to care for children with special needs. You cannot turn a child away for the sole reason that they have special needs. If the parents gives you permission, you can talk to the local school district, early intervention provider, health provider, or social workers to determine you ability to care for a child with special needs. Based on what you know about the child and their needs, you must write down what specific accommodations you will have to make for the child. Examples of accommodations might include:
- any change or modification in the child's participation in regular program activities
- the size of the group the child is in, the teacher:child ratio
- special equipment, materials, ramps, or aids needed
- the reason for the decision
- notification that the parents can request that DEEC review the written notice to make sure your decision is in compliance with this regulation
Toileting needs or the need for diapers cannot be considered an undue burden. You cannot turn a child away because they are not toilet trained.
You must consider the following items when deciding if you can care for a child with disabilities:
- What would it cost you to make the needed accommodations?
- Can you get funding and/or services to help make the accommodations?
- What financial resources do you have to make these accommodations?
- How many employees do you have?
- How will the cost of caring for this child affect your expenses or resources? Could this decision affect you in ways other than your license, ie: being sued by the family?
- Do the accommodations alter the fundamental nature of your program?
One person, either yourself or a staff person, must be the designated liaison for a child with a disability. It is the liaison's job to coordinate care between your program, others providing service, and the parents.
(14) Required Postings. The licensee must post the following information in an area easily visible to parents, educators, and visitors:
- “Call 911” reminder and the telephone number and address of the program, including the location of the program in the facility.
- The telephone number of the Poison Control Center.
- The name and telephone number of the emergency back-up person.
- In a manner that protects the privacy of each child: 1. a list of all emergency or life saving medications, including but not limited to epinephrine auto-injectors, inhalers, and anti-seizure medications, that specifies to which children they belong; and 2 a list of allergies and/or other emergency medical information provided by the parent for each child.
- The current license or approval.
(15) Notifications to the Department
Notification of Death or Serious Injury. You have to call your licensor immediately if there is a death, serious injury, reportable illness, or medication error. You need to follow up your phone call with in 48 hours by telling your licensor about the incident in writing.
- The death of any child which occurs while such child is in care, or resulting from an injury or event that occurred while the child was in care.
- Any injury to any child which occurs during the hours while such child is in care and which requires hospitalization or emergency medical treatment.
- The contagious illness of a child that is a reportable condition as set by theDivision of Communicable Disease Control, Department of Public Health.
- Any medication error which occurred while the child was in care and which a. required hospitalization or emergency medical treatment, or b. which resulted in a child receiving the wrong medication.
Notification of Legal Proceedings.
You need to tell your licensor in writing if you, someone that lives with you, someone on your staff, or someone regularly at your house is involved in a legal proceeding (being sued. arrested, etc) if it is related to a child in your care or could change how your program is run. You have to contact them with in 5 days of the start of this process. This includes any criminal or delinquency complaints listed in DEEC's Background Record Check regulations, civil actions related to alleged abuse/neglect, or if any of the above listed people are in need or care and protection.
Notification of Change of Location or Telephone Number.
You must tell your licensor 10 days before changing your phone number or the location of your program. You might need to do a new application for license if you change your location. You have to be able to demonstrate that your new location meets all the requirements of your license.
Notification of Change in Program Space.
You must tell your licensor 30 days before using a different space for child care. If you cannot tell them 30 days in advance, you must tell them as soon as possible.
Notification of Failure to Renew Required Inspection Certificates.
You must tell your licensor if you do not pass an inspection (ie: fire, water, or building inspection) that interferes with your child care license.
Change of Location in Case of Emergency.
You must tell your licensor immediately by phone if you have to evacuate or seek alternate shelter due to fire or other emergency.
Notification of Law Enforcement Activity.
You must tell your licensor with in 24 hours if you or someone regularly at your house is involved in a police report or arrest that could impact the health, safety, and/or well being of the children in care. DEEC might request a copy of the police reports.
Notification of Response by Fire Department.
You must call your licensor within 24 hours of an incident that results in a response from the fire department. This does not include false alarms. DEEC might request a copy of the incident reports.
Notification of 51A Report.
You must notify your licensor as required in 606 CMR 7.11(4)(e & f ). We will look at this in more depth in a later section.
Action by the Internal Revenue Service.
You must tell your licensor in writing of any action brought against the licensee by the Internal Revenue Service.
Motor Vehicle Accident.
You must tell your licensor immediately of any accident involving the transportation of children when such transportation is provided or contracted by the licensee.
Notice of Intent to Close.
You must tell your licensor at least 30 days in advance if you plan to close you child care business. Your written plan must include your plan for notifying parents and your plan for storing/preserving all required records.
(16) Additional Requirements for Family Child Care.
- You must tell your licensor if you join or leave a family child care system.
- You must tell your licensor within 7 days of a change in household composition. This includes approval of foster o adoptive children. There is a change of household composition form in the Sample Forms Packet.
- You must tell your licensor if a firearm is brought into your home.
- You must tell your licensor if the Department of Public Health finds that your home is the source for lead poisoning for any child.