(2) The office shall:
(a) Focus on improving the educational quality delivered by all providers participating in the school readiness program.
(b) Preserve parental choice by permitting parents to choose from a variety of child care categories, including center-based care, family child care, and informal child care to the extent authorized in the state’s Child Care and Development Fund Plan as approved by the United States Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to 45 C.F.R. s. 98.18. Care and curriculum by a faith-based provider may not be limited or excluded in any of these categories.
(c) Be responsible for the prudent use of all public and private funds in accordance with all legal and contractual requirements, safeguarding the effective use of federal, state, and local resources to achieve the highest practicable level of school readiness for the children described in s. 1002.87, including: 1. The adoption of a uniform chart of accounts for budgeting and financial reporting purposes that provides standardized definitions for expenditures and reporting, consistent with the requirements of 45 C.F.R. part 98 and s. 1002.89 for each of the following categories of expenditure:
a. Direct services to children.
b. Administrative costs.
c. Quality activities.
d. Nondirect services.
2. Coordination with other state and federal agencies to perform data matches on children participating in the school readiness program and their families in order to verify the children’s eligibility pursuant to s. 1002.87.
(d) Establish procedures for the biennial calculation of the average market rate.
(e) Review each early learning coalition’s school readiness program plan every 2 years and provide final approval of the plan and any amendments submitted.
(f) Establish a unified approach to the state’s efforts to coordinate a comprehensive early learning program. In support of this effort, the office: 1. Shall adopt specific program support services that address the state’s school readiness program, including: a. Statewide data information program requirements that include:
(I) Eligibility requirements.
(II) Financial reports.
(III) Program accountability measures.
(IV) Child progress reports.
b. Child care resource and referral services.
c. A single point of entry and uniform waiting list.
2. May provide technical assistance and guidance on additional support services to complement the school readiness program, including:
a. Rating and improvement systems.
b. Warm-Line services.
c. Anti-fraud plans.
d. School readiness program standards.
e. Child screening and assessments.
f. Training and support for parental involvement in children’s early education.
g. Family literacy activities and services.
(g) Provide technical assistance to early learning coalitions.
(h) In cooperation with the early learning coalitions, coordinate with the Child Care Services Program Office of the Department of Children and Families to reduce paperwork and to avoid duplicating interagency activities, health and safety monitoring, and acquiring and composing data pertaining to child care training and credentialing.
(i) Enter into a memorandum of understanding with local licensing agencies and the Child Care Services Program Office of the Department of Children and Families for inspections of school readiness program providers to monitor and verify compliance with s. 1002.88 and the health and safety checklist adopted by the office. The provider contract of a school readiness program provider that refuses permission for entry or inspection shall be terminated. The health and safety checklist may not exceed the requirements of s. 402.305 and the Child Care and Development Fund pursuant to 45 C.F.R. part 98. (j) Develop and adopt standards and benchmarks that address the age-appropriate progress of children in the development of school readiness skills. The standards for children from birth to 5 years of age in the school readiness program must be aligned with the performance standards adopted for children in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program and must address the following domains:
1. Approaches to learning.
2. Cognitive development and general knowledge.
3. Numeracy, language, and communication.
4. Physical development.
(k) Select assessments that are valid, reliable, and developmentally appropriate for use as preassessment and postassessment for the age ranges specified in the coalition plans. The assessments must be designed to measure progress in the domains of the performance standards adopted pursuant to paragraph (j), provide appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities and English language learners, and be administered by qualified individuals, consistent with the publisher’s instructions.
(l) Adopt a list of approved curricula that meet the performance standards for the school readiness program and establish a process for the review and approval of a provider’s curriculum that meets the performance standards.
(m) Adopt by rule a standard statewide provider contract to be used with each school readiness program provider, with standardized attachments by provider type. The office shall publish a copy of the standard statewide provider contract on its website. The standard statewide contract shall include, at a minimum, provisions for provider probation, termination for cause, and emergency termination for those actions or inactions of a provider that pose an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the children. The standard statewide provider contract shall also include appropriate due process procedures. During the pendency of an appeal of a termination, the provider may not continue to offer its services. Any provision imposed upon a provider that is inconsistent with, or prohibited by, law is void and unenforceable.
(n) Establish a single statewide information system that each coalition must use for the purposes of managing the single point of entry, tracking children’s progress, coordinating services among stakeholders, determining eligibility of children, tracking child attendance, and streamlining administrative processes for providers and early learning coalitions.
(o) Adopt by rule standardized procedures for coalitions to use when monitoring the compliance of school readiness program providers with the terms of the standard statewide provider contract.
(p) Monitor and evaluate the performance of each early learning coalition in administering the school readiness program, ensuring proper payments for school readiness program services, implementing the coalition’s school readiness program plan, and administering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. These monitoring and performance evaluations must include, at a minimum, onsite monitoring of each coalition’s finances, management, operations, and programs.
(q) Work in conjunction with the Bureau of Federal Education Programs within the Department of Education to coordinate readiness and voluntary prekindergarten services to the populations served by the bureau.
(r) Administer a statewide toll-free Warm-Line to provide assistance and consultation to child care facilities and family day care homes regarding health, developmental, disability, and special needs issues of the children they are serving, particularly children with disabilities and other special needs. The office shall: 1. Annually inform child care facilities and family day care homes of the availability of this service through the child care resource and referral network under s. 1002.92.
2. Expand or contract for the expansion of the Warm-Line to maintain at least one Warm-Line in each early learning coalition service area.
(s) Develop and implement strategies to increase the supply and improve the quality of child care services for infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, children who receive care during nontraditional hours, children in underserved areas, and children in areas that have significant concentrations of poverty and unemployment.
(t) Establish preservice and inservice training requirements that address, at a minimum, school readiness child development standards, health and safety requirements, and social-emotional behavior intervention models, which may include positive behavior intervention and support models.
(u) Establish standards for emergency preparedness plans for school readiness program providers.
(v) Establish group sizes.
(w) Establish staff-to-children ratios that do not exceed the requirements of s. 402.302(8) or (11) or s. 402.305(4), as applicable, for school readiness program providers. (x) Establish eligibility criteria, including limitations based on income and family assets, in accordance with s. 1002.87 and federal law.
(6)(a) Parental choice of child care providers, including private and faith-based providers, shall be established to the maximum extent practicable in accordance with 45 C.F.R. s. 98.30.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term “payment certificate” means a child care certificate as defined in 45 C.F.R. s. 98.2.
(c) The school readiness program shall, in accordance with 45 C.F.R. s. 98.30, provide parental choice through a payment certificate that provides, to the maximum extent possible, flexibility in the school readiness program and payment arrangements. The payment certificate must bear the names of the beneficiary and the program provider and, when redeemed, must bear the signatures of both the beneficiary and an authorized representative of the provider.
(d) If it is determined that a provider has given any cash or other consideration to the beneficiary in return for receiving a payment certificate, the early learning coalition or its fiscal agent shall refer the matter to the Department of Financial Services pursuant to s. 414.411 for investigation.