AN ACT TO ENHANCE THE EARLY CHILDHOOD WORKFORCE.
Amends GS 110-91(8) (mandatory standards for staff in child care facilities) by increasing the requirements for lead teachers in and operators of child care centers. Lead teachers must obtain at minimum a North Carolina Infant-Toddler Certificate or Preschool Certificate or its equivalent, replacing the previous minimum of an Early Childhood Credential which teachers must also have; provides a timeline for when these requirements must be met depending on the teachers' hiring date. Changes requirements for operators from a minimum high school diploma to a new minimum of an Early Childhood Credential before receiving a license and mandates the attainment of an Infant-Toddler or Preschool Certificate within 18 months of receiving a license, effective January 1, 2020. Provides that operators of a family child care home licensed prior to January 1, 2020, have until July 1, 2021, to obtain the necessary certificate. Removes previous exemption that the staff qualification requirements do not apply to religious sponsored child care facilities pursuant to GS 110-106.
Amends GS 110-106 (religious sponsored child care facilities) by deleting subsection (c) which stated that this type of child care facility is exempt from the standards mandated by GS 110-91(8), (11) (staff development), and (12) (developmentally appropriate activities). Modifies subsection GS 110-106(e) by deleting previous minimum requirement that a supervisor of this type of facility be literate and adding new requirements that effective July 1, 2024, all administrators have the Early Childhood Administration Credential or its equivalent, and all lead teachers and operators have an Infant-Toddler or Preschool Certificate in addition to the Early Childhood Credential.
Requires the Division of Child Development and Early Education (Division) to define the knowledge requirements for early childhood educators by establishing expected competencies for lead teachers, to be based on the specified findings and competencies. Requires the competencies to be graduated and tied to the certificates and degrees offered within the state's community colleges, colleges, and universities.
Requires the Division to collaborate with the North Carolina Community Colleges System office to develop, or revise, a process for early childhood educators to demonstrate their ability to meet the competencies found in all courses included in either the Infant-Toddler or Preschool Certificate. Requires that this process be available to support those educators who choose not to attend or return to college to earn the certificates or degrees required for lead teachers.
Directs the Division to conduct a feasibility and cost study for development of a pilot program modeled after the North Carolina prekindergarten (NC Pre-K) program for classrooms for children birth through 3 years of age. Requires the model to focus on, at a minimum, several criteria, such as teachers with degrees, use of curriculum assessments, improved student-teacher ratios, payment rates, training, recruitment, and monitoring, and an ongoing evaluation program to measure educational outcomes. Requires a report on the study to the 2020 Regular Session of the General Assembly by April 1, 2020.
Requires the Division to report on the status of the early childhood workforce every three years, including information on the educational status and compensation of all lead teachers and other teaching staff enrolled in licensed child care programs. Requires a report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services by January 2021, and every three years thereafter.