Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification)

I recently received an email from our attorney, notifying me that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has revised the Form I-9.  The new form went into effect on March 8, 2013, but employers have a 60-day grace period in which to start using it.  For the time being, we can use either the old or new version of the form, but as of May 7, 2013, only the new version is acceptable. 

For those who are unsure, the Form I-9 is the Employment Eligibility Verification Form.  It is the form that must be completed jointly by every new employee and the employer or an authorized representative of the employer.  The I-9 verifies that the employee has the right to work legally in the U.S.  If you have an employee, you must have an I-9 for that employee.

The major changes on the new form are:

  • New data fields, including the phone number, email address, and the employee’s foreign passport information (if applicable);
  • Expanded form instructions; and
  • Revised form layout that expands the form from one to two pages. 

The new I-9 is divided into 3 sections:

  • Section 1 is the Employee Information and Attestation.  The employee must complete and sign this form no later than the first day of employment.  However, this section should never be completed before the employee has accepted a job offer, to reduce the potential for job.  Similarly, the employer cannot specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee.
  • Section 2 is the Employer or Authorized Representative Review and Verification.  The employer (or representative) must complete and sign this section after the employee completes Section 1 and within 3 business days of the employee's first day of employment. You must physically examine and, on the form, document the information from the document(s) the employee presents to verify employment eligibility.  You do not have to make a photocopy of the employee’s document(s), but if you do that for one employee, you must do it for all employees (and that documentation must remain with the I-9).  The employer must also attest that the document(s) provided appear to be genuine and relate to the employee.
  • Section 3 is for Reverification and Rehires.  This section is only used if you rehire an individual within 3 years of their last day of employment with you or if one of the documents that the individual initially provided has an expiration date that occurs during that individual’s employment.  This reverification requirement is only necessary for certain types of documentation.

 There is no fee for completing Form I-9. The form is not filed with any government agency, but must be retained by the employer and made available for inspection by U.S. Government officials. The form must be retained for as long as the individual works for you and either 3 years after the date of hire or 1 year after the date employment ended, whichever is later.

The new I-9 contains 6 pages of instructions.  Be sure to read them thoroughly so that you understand what you can and cannot or must and must not do.  Once you understand the requirements, be sure that every individual who may be completing this form with a new employee thoroughly understands the requirements as well.  Forms completed incorrectly or not completed thoroughly could expose your program to lawsuits and/or fines….which definitely makes your time in understanding the requirements time well-spent.

If you need a way to track your personnel paperwork to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, check out our Personnel File Checklist.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Strategic Plannning in Child Care

At last week’s California AEYC Conference, DayCareTools presented a workshop entitled “Strategic Planning in the Child Care Industry”.  What we found was that very few child care programs have a Strategic Plan and those that do have one often do not implement it.  I suspect that there are quite a few program managers who don’t understand what a Strategic Plan is and why they should have one. 

If you look at the above graphic of little Billy, it will explain the “why” part pretty well.  Billy has a mission to accomplish, but his method of completing that mission is anything but effective.  He is wasting a lot of time and resources in reaching his destination.  (Of course, with children, the journey IS the point, but in program management, we need to be a bit more efficient.)

A well-written Strategic Plan will help you to understand where you are, where you want to go, how you will get there, and how you will know when you have arrived.  Some times you may want to consider developing a Strategic Plan would be when you are starting a new program, considering making a major change to your program, when the program is in a state of transition and seeking a new direction, or when you are ready to make an in-depth examination of your programs and services.

Through careful examination, your Strategic Plan will help you to understand your program’s strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats.  This deeper understanding of your own program will help you to constantly improve and to differentiate yourself from your competitors. 

The key to all of this planning is to make sure that your plan will be implemented once it is completed.  First of all, the program manager cannot complete the Strategic Plan alone.  All stakeholders must be represented on the planning committee; staff, management, parents, board members, community members, etc.  People are much more likely to buy into a plan if they have had the opportunity to contribute to its development.  Next, the plan must be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.  If any of these components is missing, you will have great difficulty in implementing the plan.  The final component is accountability.  Who is accountable for ensuring completion of which tasks by when?  

Since strategic planning is often quite foreign to child care providers, DayCareTools has developed a Strategic Plan template that will help you to understand the components of a plan and has partnered that template with a simple “how-to” guide.  Check it out at:  www.DayCareTools.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Child Care Resource and Referral

Are you a child care provider with a goal to run a high quality and FULL program?  Have you been wondering why parents are not knocking down your door?  What are some of the complaints that you have heard about your program?

These are all very important questions to consider when you are trying to run a business with a good reputation in the community.  How do potential families find out about you?

One of the ways that potential families will learn about you is through your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.  These vary widely throughout the US, but in many locations the R&R can be your best source of marketing for your program.

Most R&R’s try to keep a dynamic data base that is up to date at all times.  Their attempt to do this however, might not always be entirely effective.  Did you know that you can and should call your R&R any time your program changes?  When are some of those times?

  • Obviously, when you have an opening – and even better, if you have a parent who gives you the standard two-week notice.  This gives you a great opportunity to call (or log into) your R&R and update your information.
  • When you start a waiting list – a waiting list is actually one of the things that smart prospective parents look for in a provider.  If other parents are clamoring to get in, maybe I should too…..  Be sure the R&R knows if you maintain a waiting list.
  • If you change or add the ages that you will care for. 
  • If you change your hours of operation – especially a great marketing opportunity for those of you who provide non-traditional hours of care.
  • If a family pet has passed away and you no longer will have an animal in your home.  This can be a BIG issue for many parents.

There are other times you should get in the habit of updating your profile with the R&R as well, but these are some of the majors.

We’ll talk about what to do if you have heard “bad press” in the community about your program – coming up.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Play Yard Safety Requirements

Play yards, also known as pack-n-plays, are convenient places for children to nap at home, while traveling, and in child care homes.  However, children have been injured or killed by poorly constructed or improperly assembled products that have collapsed during use.  

As of last Thursday (February 28), new safety standards for play yards went into effect.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission now requires all manufacturers and importers of play yards to ensure that the play yards include:

  • A stability test to prevent the play yard from tipping over.
  • Latch and lock mechanisms to keep the play yard from folding on a child when it's in use.
  • Entrapment tests for attachments so a child's head does not get trapped while a bassinet or other accessory is attached.
  • Floor strength tests to ensure structural integrity and to prevent children from getting trapped by the play yard floor.
  • Minimum side height requirements to prevent children from getting out of the play yard on their own.
  • A test to prevent play yards whose top rails fold downward from using a hinge that creates a V- or diamond shape when folded to prevent head or neck entrapment. http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2013/02/play-yards-new-safety-rule-to-take-effect/

The CPSC initially considered a provision to address steps to prevent improper assembly of play yards, but decided to not include it in the requirements at this time.  But, in the interest of child safety, we all need to ensure that we read the assembly instructions carefully and assemble the product correctly. 

In addition to the new requirements, the CPSC also reminds parents and caregivers to keep the play yard bare.  Just like any other sleeping areas for infants, pillows, stuffed animals, sleep positioning devices, and thick blankets create suffocation hazards and should be avoided.  For more information, check out the CPSC article at:  http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/09/safe-sleep-bedding-pillows-safety-and-more/

By the way, if you are attending the California AEYC Conference next week, look for us.  We will be in the Exhibitor's Hall and will also be presenting a workshop on Strategic Planning on Thursday.  Stop by and say "hi".