January 26, 2021
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Senate Bill 0158

Senate Bill sb0158e2

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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



  1                      A bill to be entitled

  2         An act relating to religious-exempt child care

  3         programs; providing a short title; amending s.

  4         402.316, F.S.; providing for a child care

  5         program affiliated with a religious

  6         congregation or parochial school to be exempt

  7         from regulation by the department as a

  8         religious-exempt child care program; requiring

  9         religious-exempt child care programs to display

10         a certificate of compliance issued by an

11         accrediting agency recognized by the

12         department; providing requirements for

13         accrediting agencies recognized by the

14         department; requiring a recognized accrediting

15         agency to conduct an initial on-site review;

16         providing timeframes within which child care

17         programs must meet the requirements for

18         training and credentials; requiring recognized

19         accrediting agencies for religious exemption to

20         submit standards to the department; requiring

21         the department to create and maintain a list of

22         recognized accrediting agencies; providing that

23         the act does not authorize the department to

24         regulate certain specified elements of a

25         religious-exempt child care program; requiring

26         that the department notify recognized

27         accrediting agencies of any revision in

28         standards; requiring that a recognized

29         accrediting agency submit an annual report;

30         providing timeframes within which an exempt

31         child care program must notify an accrediting


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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



 1         agency of its transfer and termination of

 2         accreditation; prohibiting a recognized

 3         accrediting agency for religious exemption from

 4         owning, operating, or administering certain

 5         programs; requiring the department to

 6         facilitate an annual meeting; providing an

 7         effective date.

 8  

 9  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

10  

11         Section 1.  This act may be cited as the "Zaniyah

12  Hinson Act."

13         Section 2.  Section 402.316, Florida Statutes, is

14  amended to read:

15         (Substantial rewording of section. See

16         s. 402.316, F.S., for present text.)

17         402.316  Exemption for child care program or weekday

18  preschool program accredited by a recognized accrediting

19  agency for religious exemption.--

20         (1)  A child care program or weekday preschool program

21  qualifies for the exemption provided in this section if the

22  program is an integral part of an established religious

23  congregation or parochial school conducting regularly

24  scheduled classes, courses of study, or educational programs,

25  and is a member or participant of, or accredited by, a state,

26  regional, or national accrediting agency for religious

27  exemption which is recognized by the Department of Children

28  and Family Services. A child care program or weekday preschool

29  program that qualifies as a religious-exempt child care

30  program may choose to be exempt from the requirements for

31  child care licensing established in ss. 402.301-402.319 or may


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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



 1  voluntarily be licensed under ss. 402.301-402.319. If a

 2  religious-exempt child care program chooses to be exempt from

 3  the requirements of ss. 402.301-402.319, the program must meet

 4  the screening requirements in ss. 402.305 and 402.3055 and

 5  must display its certificate of compliance issued by a

 6  recognized accrediting agency for religious exemption in a

 7  conspicuous location in the facility. Failure to post the

 8  certificate of compliance in a conspicuous location will

 9  result in an administrative action as determined by the

10  standards of the program's accrediting agency for religious

11  exemption.

12         (2)  The department shall verify an accrediting agency

13  as a recognized accrediting agency for religious exemption if

14  the accrediting agency:

15         (a)  Adopts minimum standards for operating a child

16  care program or weekday preschool program which meet or exceed

17  the department's minimum standards set forth in s. 402.305

18  (1)-(11), (13), (15), and (16);

19         (b)  Publishes its minimum standards and requires a

20  child care program or weekday preschool program that is a

21  member or participant of, or accredited by, the agency to

22  comply with the accrediting agency's minimum standards;

23         (c)  Requires a program that is a member or participant

24  of, or accredited by, the agency to meet the minimum

25  requirements of the local governing body with respect to

26  health, sanitation, and safety, including minimum requirements

27  for environmental health, firesafety, zoning, and building

28  codes;

29         (d)  Requires a program that is a member or participant

30  of, or accredited by, the agency to inform parents that the

31  program is exempt from state licensing requirements but meets


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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



 1  the standards of the program's accrediting agency, which meet

 2  or exceed the department's minimum standards;

 3         (e)  Conducts an initial on-site review of each program

 4  that is a member or participant of, or accredited by, the

 5  agency. Each year thereafter, a notarized statement must be

 6  submitted to the accrediting agency by each program verifying

 7  compliance with applicable state laws and the accrediting

 8  agency's published minimum standards; and

 9         (f)  Requires child care personnel employed by a

10  program that is a member or participant of, or accredited by,

11  the agency to comply with standards that meet or exceed the

12  standards set forth in s. 402.305(2)(d). A recognized

13  accrediting agency for religious exemption must require child

14  care personnel to begin a 40-clock-hour introductory course in

15  child care, approved by the department, by October 1, 2004, or

16  within 90 days after employment and complete the training

17  within 1 year after the date on which the training begins. In

18  addition, a recognized accrediting agency shall require a

19  program that is a member or participant of, or accredited by,

20  the agency to meet or exceed the requirements for staff

21  credentials set forth in s. 402.305(3) by July 1, 2008. The

22  department and accrediting agencies for religious exemption

23  shall work collaboratively to expedite the approval of

24  equivalency programs developed by the accrediting agencies.

25         (3)  Each accrediting agency for religious exemption

26  that seeks recognition by the department under this section

27  must submit a copy of its published standards to the

28  department for review. These standards shall be reviewed by

29  the department within 30 days after submission. The department

30  shall recognize an accrediting agency if the agency is in

31  compliance with subsection (2). The department shall create


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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



 1  and maintain a complete and accurate list of all recognized

 2  accrediting agencies for religious exemption and specify the

 3  agencies' standards.

 4         (4)  This section does not authorize the department to

 5  regulate or control an accrediting agency for religious

 6  exemption or to regulate or control the governance, religious

 7  curriculum, academic curriculum, testing or assessments,

 8  evaluation procedures, academic requirements of the staff,

 9  discipline, or hiring practices of any religious-exempt child

10  care program.

11         (5)  The department shall distribute to each recognized

12  accrediting agency for religious exemption any revision made

13  to the department's minimum standards within 30 days after the

14  revision is adopted. Within 30 days after the receipt of

15  revised minimum standards from the department, each recognized

16  accrediting agency for religious exemption shall notify the

17  department by written statement documenting that they have

18  notified each exempt program of the revised standards. The new

19  standards shall be incorporated during the next revision of

20  the accrediting agency's minimum standards. Each recognized

21  accrediting agency for religious exemption shall maintain and

22  submit to the department an annual report that includes an

23  updated listing of programs that are members or participants

24  of, or accredited by, that agency and submit a written notice

25  of a new program coming into affiliation thereafter, or

26  terminating affiliation, within 30 days after such action. A

27  religious-exempt child care program that transfers its

28  affiliation from one accrediting agency to another must notify

29  the accrediting agency from which it is transferring 30 days

30  in advance of the transfer.

31  


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    CS for SB 158                                 Second Engrossed



 1         (6)  A recognized accrediting agency for religious

 2  exemption may not own, operate, or administer a child care

 3  program or weekday preschool program under its certificate of

 4  approval. A child care program or weekday preschool program

 5  exempt from ss. 402.301-402.319 under this section is solely

 6  responsible for its day-to-day operations and compliance with

 7  applicable state laws and the minimum standards of its

 8  accrediting agency for religious exemption.

 9         (7)  The department shall facilitate an annual meeting

10  with the accrediting agencies for religious exemption, health

11  and safety officials, and other interested child advocates to

12  exchange ideas for ensuring the health and safety of children

13  in child care and preschool programs.

14         Section 3.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2004.

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