HB 1480 (Filler-Corn) and SB 539 (Hanger) are complex bills that represent a second attempt to make distinctions among the variety of child day programs currently exempt from licensure and impose certain minimum health and welfare standards on programs deemed to be more akin to child care. Similar legislation was considered in 2017 but became entangled in the question of how child day programs operated pursuant to an exemption from licensure for religious institutions should be regulated, and was ultimately vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe. VACo worked last year with VML and the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society to attempt to remove day programs operated by local parks and recreation departments under the auspices of local governments from the category of day programs that would be subject to oversight by the Virginia Department of Social Services, arguing that such supervision was unnecessary, but were unsuccessful.
Under HB 1480 and SB 539, as in 2017, parks and recreation programs would remain exempt from licensure requirements, but would be required to file an annual statement with the Commissioner of Social Services, report serious injuries or deaths, and notify parents that the programs are exempt from licensure. The bills were amended in their respective committees of origin to remove a problematic enactment clause that would have allowed the Department of Social Services to periodically review whether local parks and recreation programs should remain exempt from licensure, and to separate programs operated by local school divisions from programs operated by local governments. HB 1480 was tabled in a subcommittee of House Appropriations on February 9; SB 539 has passed the Senate and been referred to the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee. It is unlikely that further amendments regarding the status of parks and recreation programs will be successful, but the bill has a delayed enactment date of July 1, 2019, which provides another opportunity for consideration of the question of how local parks and recreation programs should be treated.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle