View Amendment Current Amendment: 13 to Bill 4813 Rep. BINGHAM proposes the following Amendment No. 13 to H.4813 as introduced by Ways & Means
(Doc Name h:\legwork\house\amend\H-WM\004\FIRST STEPS 4K.DOCX):

EXPLANATION: Add Section 1B - First Steps to School Readiness and place a duplicate of the CDEPP proviso in a new proviso and section created for First Steps

Amend the bill, as and if amended, Part IB, Section 1B, First Steps to School Readiness, page 362, after line 30, by adding a new section to read:

/section 1B - H62-First Steps to School Readiness/

Amend the bill further, as and if amended, section 1B - First Steps to School Readiness, page 362, after line 30, by adding an appropriately numbered paragraph to read:
/ (FS: Child Development Education Pilot Program) There is created the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP). This program shall be available for the current school year on a voluntary basis and shall focus on the developmental and learning support that children must have in order to be ready for school and must incorporate parenting education.
(A) For the current school year, with funds appropriated by the General Assembly, the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program shall first be made available to eligible children from the following eight trial districts in Abbeville County School District et. al. vs. South Carolina:

Allendale, Dillon 2, Florence 4, Hampton 2, Jasper, Lee, Marion 7, and Orangeburg 3. With any remaining funds available, the pilot shall be expanded to the remaining plaintiff school districts in Abbeville County School District et. al. vs. South Carolina and then expanded to eligible children residing in school districts with a poverty index of ninety percent or greater. Priority shall be given to implementing the program first in those of the plaintiff districts which participated in the pilot program during the 2006-2007 school year, then in the plaintiff districts having proportionally the largest population of underserved at-risk four-year-old children. Unexpended funds from the prior fiscal year for this program shall be carried forward and shall remain in the program. In rare instances, students with documented kindergarten readiness barriers may be permitted to enroll for a second year, or at age five, at the discretion of the Office of South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness for students being served by a private provider. (B) Each child residing in the pilot districts, who will have attained the age of four years on or before September first, of the school year, and meets the at-risk criteria is eligible for enrollment in the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program for one year. The parent of each eligible child may enroll the child in one of the following programs: (1) a school-year four-year-old kindergarten program delivered by an approved public provider; or
(2) a school-year four-year-old kindergarten program delivered by an approved private provider.
The parent enrolling a child must complete and submit an application to the approved provider of choice. The application must be submitted on forms and must be accompanied by a copy of the child's birth certificate, immunization documentation, and documentation of the student's eligibility as evidenced by family income documentation showing an annual family income of one hundred eighty-five percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines as promulgated annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or a statement of Medicaid eligibility. In submitting an application for enrollment, the parent agrees to comply with provider attendance policies during the school year. The attendance policy must state that the program consists of 6.5 hours of instructional time daily and operates for a period of not less than one hundred eighty days per year. Pursuant to program guidelines, noncompliance with attendance policies may result in removal from the program.
No parent is required to pay tuition or fees solely for the purpose of enrolling in or attending the program established under this provision. Nothing in this provision prohibits charging fees for childcare that may be provided outside the times of the instructional day provided in these programs.
If by October first of the school year at least seventy-five percent of the total number of eligible CDEPP children in a district or county are projected to be enrolled in CDEPP, Head Start or ABC Child Care Program as determined by the Department of Education and the Office of First Steps, CDEPP providers may then enroll pay-lunch children who score at or below the twenty-fifth national percentile on two of the three DIAL-3 subscales and may receive reimbursement for these children if funds are available.
(C) Private providers choosing to participate in the South Carolina Four-Year-Old Child Development Kindergarten Program must submit an application to the Office of First Steps. The application must be submitted on the forms prescribed, contain assurances that the provider meets all program criteria set forth in this provision, and will comply with all reporting and assessment requirements. Providers shall:
(1) comply with all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services; (2) comply with all state and local health and safety laws and codes; (3) comply with all state laws that apply regarding criminal background checks for employees and exclude from employment any individual not permitted by state law to work with children; (4) be accountable for meeting the education needs of the child and report at least quarterly to the parent/guardian on his progress; (5) comply with all program, reporting, and assessment criteria required of providers; (6) maintain individual student records for each child enrolled in the program to include, but not be limited to, assessment data, health data, records of teacher observations, and records of parent or guardian and teacher conferences; (7) designate whether extended day services will be offered to the parents/guardians of children participating in the program;
(8) be approved, registered, or licensed by the Department of Social Services; and
(9) comply with all state and federal laws and requirements specific to program providers.
Providers may limit student enrollment based upon space available. However if enrollment exceeds available space, providers shall enroll children with first priority given to children with the lowest scores on an approved pre-kindergarten readiness assessment. Private providers shall not be required to expand their programs to accommodate all children desiring enrollment. However, providers are encouraged to keep a waiting list for students they are unable to serve because of space limitations.
(D) The Department of Education and the Office of First Steps to School Readiness shall:
(1) develop the provider application form;
(2) develop the child enrollment application form;
(3) develop a list of approved research-based preschool curricula for use in the program based upon the South Carolina Content Standards, provide training and technical assistance to support its effective use in approved classrooms serving children;
(4) develop a list of approve pre-kindergarten readiness assessments to be used in conjunction with the program, provide assessments and technical assistance to support assessment administration in approved classrooms serving children; (5) establish criteria for awarding new classroom equipping grants; (6) establish criteria for the parenting education program providers must offer; (7) establish a list of early childhood related fields that may be used in meeting the lead teacher qualifications; (8) develop a list of data collection needs to be used in implementation and evaluation of the program; (9) identify teacher preparation program options and assist lead teachers in meeting teacher program requirements; (10) establish criteria for granting student retention waivers; and (11) establish criteria for granting classroom size requirements waivers. (E) Providers of the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program shall offer a complete educational program in accordance with age-appropriate instructional practice and a research based preschool curriculum aligned with school success. The program must focus on the developmental and learning support children must have in order to be ready for school. The provider must also incorporate parenting education that promotes the school readiness of preschool children by strengthening parent involvement in the learning process with an emphasis on interactive literacy. Providers shall offer high-quality, center-based programs that must include, but shall not be limited to, the following: (1) employ a lead teacher with a two-year degree in early childhood education or related field or be granted a waiver of this requirement from the Office of First Steps to School Readiness; (2) employ an education assistant with pre-service or in-service training in early childhood education; (3) maintain classrooms with at least ten four-year-old children, but no more than twenty four-year-old children with an adult to child ratio of 1:10. With classrooms having a minimum of ten children, the 1:10 ratio must be a lead teacher to child ratio. Waivers of the minimum class size requirement may be granted by the Office of First Steps to School Readiness for private providers on a case-by-case basis;
(4) offer a full day, center-based program with 6.5 hours of instruction daily for one hundred eighty school days;
(5) provide an approved research-based preschool curriculum that focuses on critical child development skills, especially early literacy, numeracy, and social/emotional development;
(6) engage parents' participation in their child's educational experience that shall include a minimum of two documented conferences per year; and (7) adhere to professional development requirements outlined in this article. (F) Every classroom providing services to four-year-old children established pursuant to this provision must have a lead teacher with at least a two-year degree in early childhood education or related field and who is enrolled and is demonstrating progress toward the completion of a teacher education program within four years. Every classroom must also have at least one education assistant per classroom who shall have the minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent, and at least two years of experience working with children under five years old. The teaching assistant shall have completed the Early Childhood Development Credential (ECD) 101 or enroll and complete this course within twelve months of hire. Providers may request waivers to the ECD 101 requirement for those assistants who have demonstrated sufficient experience in teaching children five years old and younger. The providers must request this waiver in writing to First Steps to School Readiness and provide appropriate documentation as to the qualifications of the teaching assistant.
(G) The General Assembly recognizes there is a strong relationship between the skills and preparation of pre-kindergarten instructors and the educational outcomes of students. To improve these education outcomes, participating providers shall require all personnel providing instruction and classroom support to students participating in the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program to participate annually in a minimum of fifteen hours of professional development to include teaching children from poverty. Professional development should provide instruction in strategies and techniques to address the age-appropriate progress of pre-kindergarten students in developing emergent literacy skills, including but not limited to, oral communication, knowledge of print and letters, phonemic and phonological awareness, and vocabulary and comprehension development. (H) Both public and private providers shall be eligible for transportation funds for the transportation of children to and from school. Nothing within this provision prohibits providers from contracting with another entity to provide transportation services provided the entities adhere to the requirements of Section 56-5-195. Providers shall not be responsible for transporting students attending programs outside the district lines. Parents choosing program providers located outside of their resident district shall be responsible for transportation. When transporting four-year-old child development students, providers shall make every effort to transport them with students of similar ages attending the same school. Of the amount appropriated for the program, not more than $185 per student shall be retained by the Department of Education for the purposes of transporting four-year-old students. This amount must be increased annually by the same projected rate of inflation as determined by the Division of Research and Statistics of the Budget and Control Board for the Education Finance Act. (I) For all private providers approved to offer services pursuant to this provision, the Office of First Steps to School Readiness shall:
(1) serve as the fiscal agent; (2) verify student enrollment eligibility; (3) recruit, review, and approve eligible providers. In considering approval of providers, consideration must be given to the provider's availability of permanent space for program service and whether temporary classroom space is necessary to provide services to any children; (4) coordinate oversight, monitoring, technical assistance, coordination, and training for classroom providers; (5) serve as a clearing house for information and best practices related to four-year-old kindergarten programs; (6) receive, review, and approve new classroom grant applications and make recommendations for approval based on approved criteria;
(7) coordinate activities and promote collaboration with other private and public providers in developing and supporting four-year-old kindergarten programs; (8) maintain a database of the children enrolled in the program; and (9) promulgate guidelines as necessary for the implementation of the pilot program.
(J) The General Assembly shall provide funding for the South Carolina Child Development Education Pilot Program. For the current school year, the funded cost per child shall be $4,218 increased annually by the rate of inflation as determined by the Division of Research and Statistics of the Budget and Control Board for the Education Finance Act. Eligible students enrolling with private providers during the school year shall be funded on a pro rata basis determined by the length of their enrollment. Private providers transporting eligible children to and from school shall be eligible for a reimbursement of $550 per eligible child transported. Providers who are reimbursed are required to retain records as required by their fiscal agent. Providers enrolling between one and six eligible children shall be eligible to receive up to $1,000 per child in materials and equipment grant funding, with providers enrolling seven or more such children eligible for grants not to exceed $10,000. Providers receiving equipment grants are expected to participate in the program and provide high-quality, center-based programs as defined herein for a minimum of three years. Failure to participate for three years will require the provider to return a portion of the equipment allocation at a level determined by First Steps to School Readiness. Funding to providers is contingent upon receipt of data as requested by First Steps to School Readiness. (L) Pursuant to this provision, the Department of Social Services shall: (1) maintain a list of all approved public and private providers; and (2) provide First Steps to School Readiness information necessary to carry out the requirements of this provision. (M) First Steps to School Readiness shall be responsible for the collection and maintenance of data on the state funded programs provided through private providers.
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