SB 326-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2022 SESSION

22-3062

07/05

 

SENATE BILL 326-FN

 

AN ACT establishing the office of early childhood.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Whitley, Dist 15; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 1; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Perkins Kwoka, Dist 21; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. Sherman, Dist 24; Sen. Prentiss, Dist 5; Rep. Myler, Merr. 10; Rep. Mullen, Hills. 7; Rep. McWilliams, Merr. 27; Rep. Luneau, Merr. 10

 

COMMITTEE: Health and Human Services

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes an office of early childhood to coordinate, consolidate, and integrate early childhood programs.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

22-3062

07/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Two

 

AN ACT establishing the office of early childhood.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Statement of Findings and Purpose.  The general court finds that:

I.  Research across disciplines demonstrates that the early years of children's lives are critical to their healthy brain development, what happens in the earliest years makes a critical difference in children's readiness to succeed in school and life, and the return on investment in early childhood through a lifetime of higher earnings, improved education outcomes, and reduced criminal justice costs is unmatched.  

II.  The state of New Hampshire currently makes investments in early childhood services and supports, but because services are fragmented across multiple state agencies, and providers lack the supports and incentives needed to improve the quality of services they provide and retain a robust workforce, many parents have difficulty accessing high quality and affordable child care and early learning services.

III.  A more cohesive and integrated early childhood system would result in greater efficiencies for the state, increased partnership between the state and the private sector, improved access to high quality and affordable child care and early learning services, and better employment and early learning outcomes for families and children.

IV.  On January 23, 2020, the governor issued an executive order creating the council for thriving children and directing the department of health and human services and the department of education to seek to establish a joint office of early childhood care and education that further enables coordination within and across the state early childhood care and education system into local communities.

V.  Therefore, it is the goal of New Hampshire to support the work of the council for thriving children, the department of health and human services, and the department of education by creating an office of early childhood to unify and integrate the early childhood system for children and families.

2  New Chapter; Office of Early Childhood.  Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 21-V the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 21-W

OFFICE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD

21-W:1  Office of Early Childhood Established.

I.  There is hereby established an office of early childhood, attached to the department of administrative services pursuant to RSA 21-G:10 for administrative and budget purposes only.  The office is vested with all powers and duties transferred to it under this chapter and such other powers and duties as may be authorized by law.

II.  Notwithstanding RSA 124 or any other provision of law, the office of early childhood is authorized to receive federal funds under the provisions of federal acts investing in child care and universal pre-kindergarten.

21-W:2  Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.

I.  The office of early childhood shall be under the supervision of a commissioner of early childhood.  The commissioner shall be appointed within 3 months of the effective date of this section for a term of 4 years.  The commissioner shall be nominated by a committee composed of designees for the governor, the speaker and minority leader of the New Hampshire house of representatives, and the president and minority leader of the New Hampshire senate.  The nominee shall then be appointed by the governor.  If the committee cannot agree on an appointee, then the governor shall make the nomination and the appointment.  The salary of the commissioner shall be determined after assessment and review of the appropriate temporary letter grade allocation in RSA 94:1-a, I(b) for the position which shall be conducted pursuant to RSA 94:1-d and RSA 14:14-c.

II.  The commissioner shall be responsible for implementing the policies and directives of the office of early childhood.  The commissioner may seek, and shall be entitled to receive from other state agencies, such assistance as may be required to perform the commissioner's duties pursuant to this chapter.

III.  The commissioner may appoint such officers, employees, agents, and consultants as he or she may deem necessary.  To the extent practicable, the commissioner shall appoint the officers, employees, agents, and consultants for the office from among the existing officers and employees of existing agencies and departments currently providing administration and oversight of those existing programs to be covered by the office of early childhood.

IV.  The commissioner shall establish a transition working group, in consultation with the governor's council for thriving children, to develop a transition plan to submit to the governor's office to include in the governor's budget request.  In developing a transition plan, the transition working group shall determine the scope of the office of early childhood, including, but not limited to, considering the following duties:

(a)  Coordinate and integrate child care, early childhood education, and early childhood development programs in New Hampshire in order to administer programs and funding as efficiently as possible;

(b)  Ensure optimal health, safety, and learning for each young child in New Hampshire through the delivery of services to young children and their families;

(c)  Develop and implement an early childhood information system to facilitate and encourage the sharing of data between and among early childhood service providers by tracking:

(1)  The health, safety, and school readiness of all young children receiving early childhood care and early childhood education services from any local or regional board of education or school readiness program;

(2)  The characteristics of the existing and potential workforce serving such children; and

(3)  The characteristics of such programs serving such children.

(d)  Develop and provide reports on the early childhood accountability plan as described in RSA 21-W:3;

(e)  Implement a communications strategy for outreach to families, service providers, and policymakers;

(f)  Begin a state-wide longitudinal evaluation of the school readiness program examining the educational progress of children from pre-kindergarten programs through grade 4;

(g)  Develop, coordinate, and support public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives;

(h)  Develop and implement a state-wide developmentally-appropriate kindergarten assessment tool that measures a child's level of preparedness for kindergarten, provided that the assessment shall not be used as a measurement tool for program accountability;

(i)  Create, compare, and analyze a unified set of reporting requirements for the purpose of collecting the data elements necessary to perform quality assessments and longitudinal analysis with the data collected in state-wide public school information systems to enable population-level analysis of children, families, and the impact or supported programs;

(j)  Continually monitor and evaluate all early child care, early childhood education, and early childhood development programs and services, focusing on program outcomes in satisfying the health, safety, developmental, and educational needs of all children, while retaining distinct separation between quality improvement services and child day care licensing services;

(k)  Coordinate home visitation services across programs for young children;

(l)  Provide information and technical assistance to persons seeking early child care, early childhood education, and early childhood development programs and services;

(m)  Coordinate and support the state, municipalities, early childhood coalitions, school boards, and any other agencies in accepting federal pre-kindergarten funds and expending existing state and federal dollars in this effort;

(n)  Provide technical assistance to providers of early child care and early childhood education programs and services to obtain licensing and improve program quality;

(o)  Establish a quality rating and improvement system that covers home-based, center-based, and school-based early child care and day care;

(p)  Maintain an accreditation facilitation initiative to assist early childhood care education and day care program and service providers in achieving national standards and program improvement;

(q)  Manage early childhood care, early childhood education, and day care licensing to the extent such is under state jurisdiction;

(r)  Ensure a coordinated and comprehensive statewide system of professional development for providers and staff of early childhood care, early childhood education, child development, and day care programs and services;

(s)  Develop early learning and development standards to be used by early childhood care, early childhood education, and day care programs and services;

(t)  Provide families with opportunities for choice in services including quality child care and community-based family-centered services;

(u)  Integrate early childhood care, early childhood education, and special education services;

(v)  Promote universal access to early childhood care and early childhood education; and

(w)  Perform any other activities that will assist in the provision of early childhood care, early childhood education, and child development programs and services.

21-W:3  Early Childhood Accountability Plan.

I.  The office of early childhood shall develop the early childhood accountability plan.  Such plan shall:

(a)  Identify and define appropriate population indicators, as well as program and system performance measures, of the health, safety, and readiness of children in New Hampshire to enter kindergarten, early school success of New Hampshire children, and any new or improved data required to achieve such goals;

(b)  Track and analyze aggregate information on the characteristics of children and early childhood care and education programs as collected by the office under RSA 21-W:1, II(c); and

(c)  Present information on the characteristics of early childhood care, early childhood education, and day care programs and services for young children in New Hampshire.

II.  The plan shall be made available as a report.  The frequency and recipients of such report shall be determined by the commissioner of the office of early childhood.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBA

22-3062

Redraft 12/10/21

 

SB 326-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT establishing the office of early childhood.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2022

FY 2023

FY 2024

FY 2025

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Various Funds and Federal Funds

 

 

 

 

 

METHODOLOGY:

 This bill establishes an office of early childhood administratively attached to the Department of Administrative Service.  The new office would be responsible for coordinating, consolidating and integrating early childhood programs.  The new office would be appointed a commissioner with a salary determined after assessment and review.  The commissioner may appoint personnel and consultants for the new office.   The office is authorized to receive federal funds but has no State appropriation for the new office.

 

The Department of Administrative Services states the fiscal impact is an indeterminable impact on State expenditures.  The Department assumes, with agreement from the agency, the agency shall pay the Department on a cost allocation basis for budgeting, record keeping and related administrative and clerical assistance per RSA 21-G:10, II(a).  The Department also states the fiscal impact is unknown as they are unable to determine the costs, if needed, for office space, the salary of the new commissioner, as well as additional personnel costs.  Lastly, the Department is unsure of the impact and amount of  federal funds that may be received for the new office.  

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Administrative Services