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The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title XLVIII
EARLY LEARNING-20 EDUCATION CODE
Chapter 1002
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
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F.S. 1002.945
1002.945 Gold Seal Quality Care Program.
(1)(a) There is established within the Department of Education the Gold Seal Quality Care Program.
(b) A child care facility, large family child care home, or family day care home that is accredited by an accrediting association approved by the Department of Education under subsection (3) and meets all other requirements shall, upon application to the department, receive a separate “Gold Seal Quality Care” designation.
(2) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules establishing Gold Seal Quality Care accreditation standards using nationally recognized accrediting standards and input from accrediting associations.
(3)(a) In order to be approved by the Department of Education for participation in the Gold Seal Quality Care Program, an accrediting association must apply to the department and demonstrate that it:
1. Is a recognized accrediting association.
2. Has accrediting standards that substantially meet or exceed the Gold Seal Quality Care standards adopted by the state board under subsection (2).
3. Is a registered corporation with the Department of State.
4. Can provide evidence that the process for accreditation has, at a minimum, all of the following components:
a. Clearly defined prerequisites that a child care provider must meet before beginning the accreditation process. However, accreditation may not be granted to a child care facility, large family child care home, or family day care home before the site is operational and is attended by children.
b. Procedures for completion of a self-study and comprehensive onsite verification process for each classroom that documents compliance with accrediting standards.
c. A training process for accreditation verifiers to ensure inter-rater reliability.
d. Ongoing compliance procedures that include requiring each accredited child care facility, large family child care home, and family day care home to file an annual report with the accrediting association and risk-based, onsite auditing protocols for accredited child care facilities, large family child care homes, and family day care homes.
e. Procedures for the revocation of accreditation due to failure to maintain accrediting standards as evidenced by sub-subparagraph d. or any other relevant information received by the accrediting association.
f. Accreditation renewal procedures that include an onsite verification occurring at least every 5 years.
g. A process for verifying continued accreditation compliance in the event of a transfer of ownership of facilities.
h. A process to communicate issues that arise during the accreditation period with governmental entities that have a vested interest in the Gold Seal Quality Care Program, including the Department of Education, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, local licensing entities if applicable, and the early learning coalition.
(b) The Department of Education shall establish a process that verifies that the accrediting association meets the provisions of paragraph (a), which must include an auditing program and any other procedures that may reasonably determine an accrediting association’s compliance with this section. If an accrediting association is not in compliance and fails to cure its deficiencies within 30 days, the department shall recommend to the state board termination of the accrediting association’s participation as an accrediting association in the program for a period of at least 2 years but no more than 5 years. If an accrediting association is removed from being an approved accrediting association, each child care provider accredited by that association shall have up to 1 year to obtain a new accreditation from a department-approved accreditation association.
(c) If an accrediting association has granted accreditation to a child care facility, large family child care home, or family day care under fraudulent terms or failed to conduct onsite verifications, the accrediting association shall be liable for the repayment of any rate differentials paid under subsection (6).
(4) In order to obtain and maintain a designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider, a child care facility, large family child care home, or family day care home must meet the following additional criteria:
(a) The child care provider must not have had any class I violations, as defined by rule of the Department of Children and Families, within the 2 years preceding its application for designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider. Commission of a class I violation shall be grounds for termination of the designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider until the provider has no class I violations for a period of 2 years.
(b) The child care provider must not have had three or more class II violations, as defined by rule of the Department of Children and Families, within the 2 years preceding its application for designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider. Commission of three or more class II violations within a 2-year period shall be grounds for termination of the designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider until the provider has no class II violations for a period of 1 year.
(c) The child care provider must not have been cited for the same class III violation, as defined by rule of the Department of Children and Families, three or more times and failed to correct the violation within 1 year after the date of each citation, within the 2 years preceding its application for designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider. Commission of the same class III violation three or more times and failure to correct within the required time during a 2-year period may be grounds for termination of the designation as a Gold Seal Quality Care provider until the provider has no class III violations for a period of 1 year.
(d) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), if the Department of Education determines through a formal process that a provider has been in business for at least 5 years and has no other class I violations recorded, the department may recommend to the state board that the provider maintain its Gold Seal Quality Care status. The state board’s determination regarding such provider’s status is final.
(5) A child care facility licensed under s. 402.305 or a child care facility exempt from licensing under s. 402.316 which achieves Gold Seal Quality status under this section shall be considered an educational institution for the purpose of qualifying for exemption from ad valorem tax under s. 196.198.
(6) A child care facility licensed under s. 402.305 or a child care facility exempt from licensing pursuant to s. 402.316 which achieves Gold Seal Quality status under this section and which participates in the school readiness program shall receive a minimum of a 20 percent rate differential for each enrolled school readiness child by care level and unit of child care.
(7) The state board shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 which provide criteria and procedures for reviewing and approving accrediting associations for participation in the Gold Seal Quality Care Program and conferring and revoking designations of Gold Seal Quality Care providers.
History.s. 72, ch. 96-175; s. 5, ch. 99-304; s. 17, ch. 2000-337; s. 26, ch. 2001-170; s. 1, ch. 2006-91; s. 7, ch. 2010-210; s. 1, ch. 2011-75; s. 282, ch. 2011-142; s. 22, ch. 2013-252; s. 142, ch. 2014-19; s. 10, ch. 2021-10.
Note.Former s. 402.281.