Department of Social Services, Building a Stronger Louisiana - Kristy H. Nichols, Secretary
 
 
December 4, 2009


Changes in Requirements for Licensing of Child Day Care Facilities

Act 194 of the 2009 Legislative session removed the exemption for religious organizations previously found in La. R.S. 46:1427. The child care licensing law now requires that any facility providing care for 12.5 hours or more in a continuous seven day week must be licensed unless there is no charge for the care or it is provided while the parents are onsite. Therefore, any facility previously exempt from licensure under the repealed La. R.S. 46:1427 is now required to be licensed, effective June 30, 2009. The Department of Social Services (DSS) strongly encourages any such affected facilities to immediately comply with the applicable licensing requirements. A copy of the child care licensing law can be found at www.legis.state.la.us, (via the link Louisiana Laws) La. R.S. 46:1401 et seq.

What is the legal definition of a day care center?
A day care center as defined by La. R.S. Section 46:1427 is any place or facility operated by any institution, society, agency, corporation, person or persons, or any other group for the purpose of providing care, supervision, and guidance of seven or more children, not including those related to the caregiver, unaccompanied by parent or guardian, on a regular basis for at least twelve and one-half hours in a continuous seven-day week. A day care center that remains open for more than twelve and one-half hours in a continuous seven-day week, and in which no individual child remains for more than twenty-four hours in one continuous stay shall be known as a full-time day care center. A day care center that remains open after 9:00 p.m. shall meet the appropriate regulations established for nighttime care.

Previously, recognized religious organizations providing child care services were not required to be licensed if the center remained open not more than twenty-four hours in a continuous seven-day week, and no individual child remained on site for more than twenty-four hours in one continuous stay. Act 194 of the 2009 legislative session which went into effect on June 30, 2009, requires all child care programs operating 12.5 hours or more in a seven-day week to be licensed by DSS.

The law does not control participation in prayer or attendance at religious services or control the content of any academic course (La. R.S. 46:1413). Further, nothing in the rules, regulations or standards authorizes or requires medical examination, immunization, or treatment of any child whose parents object to such examination, immunization, or treatment on religious grounds. The licensing law does not give the jurisdiction or authority to regulate, control, supervise, or in any way be involved in the form, manner, or content of any curriculum or instruction of a school or facility sponsored by a church or religious organization so long as the civil and human rights of the clients and residents are not violated.

What programs are exempt from licensure?
La. R.S. 46:1415 lists the programs that are exempt from licensure. These include Montessori schools, private or public day schools serving children in grades one and above or operating kindergartens or pre-kindergarten programs, and camps.

All care provided at a location is considered when determining if a facility requires licensure. This includes a "mother's day out" program operating less than 12.5 hours in a week with an "extended day/lunch bunch/stay-n-play" program which causes the provider to exceed the 12.5 hours in a week. Sunday schools and other church related activities, such as revivals, vacation Bible school and activities when parents are on-site, are not required to be licensed.

A program which provides care without charge, regardless of the number of hours provided is exempt from licensure.

What if a program accepts donations?
Donations that are voluntary are not considered payments. As such if a program accepts voluntary donations it will remain exempt. If however, the "donations" are mandatory then they would be considered payment for services and the program would no longer remain exempt. In other words, if a child is not able to participate in the program unless a donation is made, this is not considered a donation, but a charge for services.

How do I obtain a license?
DSS will be hosting informational sessions describing how to become licensed. A list of meeting dates and times can be found at www.dss.louisiana.gov/childcareupdates. Applications for licensure will be available at the sessions.

Louisiana offers two classes of licensure for child care - Class A and Class B. A brief synopsis of the differences between Class A and Class B can be found here. The application and licensing regulations for both Class A and Class B child care are located on the DSS website at www.dss.louisiana.gov/childcareupdates.

What if a facility is found to be operating without a license?
Upon receipt of an allegation that a facility is operating without a license, licensing staff will conduct a visit to determine if a license is needed. At the visit, licensing staff will explain the licensure law and provide an application for licensure. The application must be submitted within five business days. A fee of $25.00 in the form of a money order or certified check must accompany the application.

DSS is committed to helping facilities operate in accordance with law. For more information, please contact Child Care Licensing & Regulatory Section at 225-342-9905 or via email at childcare@dss.state.la.us.

We look forward to working with you in implementing this new law that will help provide for the safety and protection of children in our state.


Sincerely,
Angie Badeaux
Director

 
   
627 N. Fourth St. | Baton Rouge, LA 70802 | PH: (225) 342-0286 | FX: (225) 342-8636 | www.dss.louisiana.gov



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