FCC Providers who recently reopened have an unprecedented amount of work on their hands. A lot of of this work is new and stressful. One lingering concern is that we’re still operating under “conditional approval” from the EEC. Remember? They said in the first 60 days, every Provider’s plan needs a complete evaluation before the EEC can grant “final approval.”
“Final approval” sounds pretty serious. No Provider wants to consider what happens if they have to shut down again. Families just started to come back! So let’s get to the bottom of this and talk through what “Final Approval” is all about with the help of Linda Schumacher and the first handful of Providers that have been through it.
What to Expect When Getting Final Approval
What if my licensor doesn’t think my plan is good enough?
Is my licensor just going to show up at my door unannounced?
What happens if in that one minute the kids aren’t socially distanced?
Will they shut me down?
These are just a few of the questions we’ve heard from Providers in the last couple of weeks. To get answers, we brought in Linda to lead a Q&A for our weekly Provider Zoom Call. Linda recently worked with the first couple of Providers to go through the Final Approval process. Equipped with lessons learned, she had timely advice and some general reassurances for others.
Her big takeaway: it’s going to be okay. The first handful of Providers have already worked with their licensors to make necessary changes to their reopening plan and have received their final approval.
We want every FCC Provider to know what’s ahead of them. Here’s Linda’s valuable insight on how final approval works, and what to expect from your licensor.
What’s the difference between conditional and final approval?
As we all remember, back in June, the EEC moved surprisingly quickly to grant conditional approval for FCCs to reopen. It was a wild, stressful few weeks with daily changes to the requirements and documentation. It caused a bit of whiplash, and FCCs scrambled to submit their plans to reopen. Now a month later, Commissioner Sam says that 50% of FCCs are up and operating. Since most FCCs are back open, it’s time for licensors to circle back and review each Provider’s reopening plan carefully. The EEC says that this will happen within 60 days of receiving conditional approval.
From Linda’s experience, if your reopening plan aligns with the EEC’s Health & Safety guidelines, and you included enough detail, you will get final approval. But as you know, how easy the approval process goes ultimately depends on who your licensor is. Some licensors might be easier than others. Others might scrutinize your plan a bit more and have a lot of edits.
Either way, if your licensor has questions, here’s what to expect next.
Your licensor will give you a call & work with you to edit your plan
Linda says your licensor will give you a call if something in your plan wasn’t clear or accurate. Once you’re on the phone with them, they will most likely collaborate with you and edit your plan on their computer in real-time.
What’s an example of something that they might flag? According to Linda, one of the most common mix-ups is the cleaning protocol or schedule. If you didn’t include enough detail (or if you copied and pasted the sample schedule that the EEC provided!), you might need to beef yours up a bit.
Another possible issue is that if you don’t have kids in your program who take medication, you might have thought it was okay to leave that section blank. If that’s the case, your licensor will ask you to fill that part out as well. It might seem unnecessary, but they want to know you understand the proper procedures on how to administer medication safely should a child in your FCC need it.
The main takeaway here is that if a part of your plan needs editing, it sounds like licensors are rolling up their sleeves to help, rather than just critique, Providers’ plans. The EEC needs FCCs right now, so even if your licensor tends to nitpick, they’re ultimately not going to hold you back from staying open if you are willing to do the work.
Your licensor might pay you a (virtual) visit
It sounds like most Providers will get final approval without needing an in-person visit from their licensor. Your licensor will not show up at your door unannounced to make sure the kids are six feet apart and you’re wearing a mask.
According to Linda, you will only have a virtual visit from your licensor for one of two reasons:
1. Your license is up for renewal
Did your license expire while non-emergency FCCs were closed? If you are a Provider in good standing, instead of an in-person visit, you’ll do your renewal over Zoom. Your licensor will hop on a video call. They will ask to see your licensed program area by having you take them from room-to-room on your computer, tablet, or phone.
2. You need to license new areas of your FCC
When you submitted your reopening plan, did you include that you wanted to add a new room or outdoor space so the kiddos in your program can physically distance? If so, your licensor will ask to see these areas to ensure they comply with rules and regulations.
Linda wants you to know that the only reason a licensor will physically visit your program is if there have been legitimate complaints filed against your FCC. Otherwise, they’re going to keep their (social) distance.
As far as we know, that’s it! A phone call and potentially a FaceTime with a licensor is all that stands between you and your “final approval.” What a relief! We know you already have a lot on your plate right now. You need your full energy for the kids, the cleaning, and some much-needed self-care.
Doing what she does best, Linda left Providers with inspiration. She reminded them that, while it might not always feel like it, the EEC is trying to do what’s best for children and families. And right now, the EEC needs FCCs to stay open. Centers have had to reduce their ratios, and parents are starting to see that smaller is better. Now is the time for FCCs to shine.
So, take a deep breath, relax, wash your hands, and focus on caring for the kiddos in your FCC—you got this.
Did you go through final approval and have a different experience?
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