School Readiness Child Care Providers
Information for School Readiness Providers
School Readiness Provider Rates
The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County (ELCHC) is responsible for negotiating fixed rates with providers. Rates negotiated by the ELCHC may not exceed rates paid by the general public, nor shall rates exceed the Coalition's current established rate schedule. If at any time during the year the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County authorizes changes to the child care rates, the changes will be made effective by written notification to providers.
All providers submit to the Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) a copy of the provider's rates. The reimbursement is reduced by the assessed parent fee amount. The provider has the right to discontinue care of a client who has not paid parent fees. For Protective Service clients, the provider is required to call the referring agency's social worker prior to the suspension of service. It is the provider's responsibility to use all reasonable methods of collection of fees.
If the parents/guardians prefer a provider whose private pay rate exceeds the negotiated subsidized rate and if the parents/guardians would prefer to pay the difference between the provider's private rate and the subsidy rate rather than use another provider, it is acceptable. In this case, the parents/guardians will be responsible for the difference between the provider's private rate and subsidy rate. These payments are arranged between the parents/guardians and the caregivers and are not administered ELCHC. Therefore, the ELCHC can not initiate a termination due to nonpayment of these fees.
In addition to the difference between the approved market rate and the rate paid by private families receiving the same services, the provider may charge the parents/guardians a one time registration fee, lunch fees, fees for special services such as field trips, fees for private or group lessons by an outside vendor and arranged by the provider, and other fees that private families pay as long as these fees are fully disclosed in a mutually signed provider-parent agreement at the time of enrollment. The provider agrees to maintain a signed provider/parent rate/fee agreement for all families, private as well as subsidized.
Reimbursement Payment Process
The ELCHC reimburses the provider on a monthly basis within a normal operating cycle. The provider submits a request for payment monthly. Request for payment must be accompanied by the appropriate documentation as prescribed by the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County and HCPS. Payments may be withheld if, at the time of payment, the provider has failed to perform any of its responsibilities according to Florida Statutes and policies and procedures of the Coalition.
During the first month of child care, and every month thereafter, the Federal Finance department mails to the provider the necessary forms to claim reimbursement for any children participating in the School Readiness Program. All providers submit monthly Enrollment/Attendance Verification forms, known as monthly rosters, to the HCPS Federal Finance Department office by the (3rd) calendar day following the month of service. If the day falls on a weekend or holiday, forms are submitted the following workday. Failure to meet this deadline may result in reimbursement being delayed until the next payment cycle. The School Readiness Program is only authorized to reimburse for up to a total of three (3) absences per calendar month per child. In the event of extraordinary circumstances, the provider may submit a request form with the appropriate documentation for consideration of payment for up to seven (7) additional days. The request form as well as documentation must be turned in with the corresponding Verification Attendance Form. The ELCHC is not responsible to reimburse the provider for any care not actually provided resulting from a parent/guardian's lack of ample notification of withdrawing a child(ren) from care. Extraordinary circumstances are defined as:
- Hospitalization of the child with appropriate documentation
- Illness requiring home-stay as documented
- Death in the immediate family as documented
- Court ordered visitation with legal documentation
- Unforeseen documented military deployment or exercise of the parent(s)/guardian(s)
A predetermined number of days will be allowed, as reimbursable for holidays.
Enrollment/Attendance Verification forms, known as monthly rosters, must be submitted with correct and accurate information. Fraudulent misrepresentation of attendance on these forms shall be grounds for termination and the provider may be prosecuted. It is against the law to be reimbursed for child care by submitting false information.
Gold Seal Rate
The ELCHC may pay a differential rate to Gold Seal Quality Care providers. As authorized by the legislature, the ELCHC may pay up to a 20% higher differential rate for school readiness eligible children enrolled in child care centers and family child care homes that have met the criteria for Gold Seal designation. This rate cannot exceed the rate charged by the provider to the general public. Gold Seal reimbursement rate will be effective the 1st day of the month following receipt of documentation (copy of accreditation certificate) in the HCPS Federal Finance office and will be determined by the rate information supplied by the provider.
Quality Counts for Kids
Quality Counts for Kids was developed by the Enhancement Committee of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, which is comprised of staff from the coalition, central agency, and child care licensing program, Nova Southeastern University, and early education providers. The overall goals of the project are:
- Ensure young children throughout Hillsborough County are provided with the best possible early learning experiences through high quality early learning programs and school-age programs.
- Provide information and support to early learning programs to improve and sustain the quality of their programs.
- Provide families with an easy to use tool to select the best programs for their children.