Complaint/Dispute Resolution Process
I. The purpose of this policy is to establish a process for resolving issues that arise from complaints from parents, clients, early learning providers, or the general public or from disputes between the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway, Inc. (ELCFG) and parents, clients, early learning providers, or the general public.
Note: This Complaint/Dispute Resolution Procedure does not to apply to personnel actions involving employees of the Coalition as addressed in the ELCFG Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual.
II. A parent, client, early learning provider, or member of the general public wishing to bring a complaint to ELCFG or adversely affected by an action or decision of ELCFG should follow this process.
Complaints or disputable decisions include, but are not limited to, the following: (a) Determination or redetermination of a child’s eligibility for the School Readiness program;
(b) Determination of a child’s eligibility for the VPK program;
(c) Assignment of a School Readiness eligible child’s unit of care or care level;
(d) Assessment of a parent’s School Readiness co-payment;
(e) Assignment of a payment rate for a School Readiness provider;
(f) *A School Readiness Health and Safety enforcement action;
(g) *A School Readiness Educational Program enforcement action;
(h) Payment or nonpayment of a School Readiness provider;
(i) Payment or nonpayment of a VPK provider;
(j) Collection of a delinquent account from a VPK or School Readiness provider;
(k) Action or decision of an early learning provider, whether contracted with the Coalition or not;
(l) Responses to suspicions of child abuse or neglect by any party.
* All of these decisions ([f.] and [g]) will be reviewed by the ELCFG Executive Committee, as outlined below in the Review Process, before being implemented by the ELCFG staff.
III. This policy is established to work in tandem with all other local policies and replaces any previous written or verbal directives issued in any of the five counties.
IV. This policy establishes the process in which general complaints and disputes will be addressed in order to provide a consistent method of addressing complaints and disputes.
V. A complaint/dispute resolution process is a system for settling disputes and resolving conflicts. For purposes of this policy, it refers to three (3) levels:
(a) Informal communication occurs between the complainant and the first line ELCFG employee, to settle minor issues that, if not resolved, could be more serious.
(b) Informal mediation occurs when the ELCFG employee’s immediate supervisor contacts the complainant to attempt a resolution to the problem.
(c) Formal Problem Resolution is a complaint or dispute presented to the ELCFG Executive Director.
VI. COMPLAINTS/DISPUTES – GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
ELCFG must record and process all complaints or disputes from any source lodged against any person, agency or organization according to the procedures specified below:
(a) All complaints or disputes will be recorded on the approved “Complaint Report” form and retained in a complaint file for a minimum of five years.
(b) ELCFG will process complaints involving any early learning or child care provider (licensed, registered, exempt, informal, or “illegal” providers), according to these policies and procedures without regard to whether or not the provider is identified as a provider of School Readiness or VPK services.
(c) Complaints, which are not required to be reported to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Florida Abuse Hotline or DCF Licensing, but which might benefit from technical assistance, may be handled by ELCFG staff or an outside source as is appropriate to each situation.
(d) Child abuse and/or neglect complaints or complaints, which pose an immediate health and/or safety risk to children, will be reported within one hour to the Florida Abuse Hotline and/or DCF Licensing (by phone and/or FAX with paperwork to follow). All other reports will be processed within five (5) business days.
(e) Any complaints received by the Coalition staff concerning the provision of early learning, child care or Resource and Referral services, will be forwarded to the Executive Director. These complaints will be reviewed, resolved or forwarded to the appropriate entity within five (5) days of receipt.
(f) The following table addresses types of complaints and where referred:
TYPE OF COMPLAINT REPORT TO CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT:
Physical, sexual, emotional/mental The Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) PROVIDER LICENCE VIOLATIONS BY: Licensed Early Care and Education Facilities Licensed Family Child Care Homes Registered Family Child Care Homes Exempt Facilities* Informal Facilities Complaints involving health, safety, sanitation and related issues, e.g.: >square footage >CPR/First Aid access >ratios >nutrition health requirements >safety & transportation >discipline physical facility safety >staff credentials >transportation group size and adult:child ratios illegal operation >admissions & record keeping Dept. of Children and Families – Licensing
District 3 Child Care Licensing Office 386-758-1510
*For Exempt Facilities – Also report to applicable entity responsible for oversight.
PROVIDER CONCERNS: Determination or redetermination of a child’s eligibility for the School Readiness program; Assignment of a School Readiness eligible child’s unit of care or care level; Assessment of a parent’s School Readiness co-payment; Assignment of a payment rate for a School Readiness provider; A School Readiness Health and Safety enforcement action; A School Readiness Educational Program enforcement action; Payment or nonpayment of a School Readiness provider; Determination of a child’s eligibility for the VPK program; Payment or nonpayment of a VPK provider; Collection of a delinquent account from a VPK or School Readiness provider; Others as appropriate. To ELC-FG Staff as directed in section VI PARENTAL CONCERNS (1):
Denial or Termination of School Readiness or VPK Services: e.g., notification from Coalition staff that client, child or provider are not eligible for participation in School Readiness and/or VPK services. Financial: e.g., cost of care, reimbursement problems, non-payment of Parent Fees.
PARENTAL CONCERNS (2): Programmatic: e.g., provider’s operating schedule, curriculum, discipline policy, teaching style; not enough/too much structure; too much/too little TV. Personal: e.g., obscene language, unkempt appearance, smoking, favoritism on the part of a provider or Coalition staff person. To ELCFG Staff as directed in section VI
VII. COMPLAINT PROCESS AND PROCEDURES: A complaint report form must be completed for all types of complaints and submitted to the appropriate department. The Coalition must retain a copy in a central complaint file.
(a) ABUSE/NEGLECT REPORTS: 1. If a complaint concerns child abuse or neglect, the complainant must be given the Abuse Hotline phone number (800) 96-ABUSE and be strongly encouraged to report it directly.
2. If the complainant is a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse or neglect (e.g. licensed or registered providers, school teacher, health care or other professional services provider), the Coalition will remind the complainant of his/her legal responsibility to report the abuse by calling the Hotline directly.
3. The complainant will be advised that Coalition staff are mandated reporters and will be making a report to the Abuse Hotline if the caller gives any specific information about the situation.
(b) LICENSING VIOLATION REPORTS: 1. The complainant will be strongly encouraged to call the licensing authority directly. The caller will be given the telephone number of the licensing authority.
2. Coalition staff will complete the complaint form and provide a copy of the form to the licensing authority for follow-up. Complaints posing an immediate risk related to health, safety and/or sanitation will be reported within one hour. Other reports will be given to licensing within one working business day of the receipt of the complaint.
3. Coalition staff should not notify a provider of a complaint since to do so may jeopardize the investigation by the licensing authority.
4. The Coalition will attempt to determine the outcome of the complaint and will document the findings.
(c) PROVIDER CONCERNS
1. ELC-FG staff will complete the complaint form.
2. ELC-FG staff will respond or refer directly to the supervisor of the appropriate department within ELCFG for comment, technical assistance or other action.
3. The receiving department will advise the sending department of the outcome by completing the bottom portion of the form and returning it to the sending department within 15 days.
4. Unresolved provider complaints concerning actions by ELCFG will be documented and handled through the Review Process.
(d) PARENTAL CONCERNS: 1. ELCFG staff will complete the complaint form.
2. ELCFG staff will respond or refer directly to the provider, or the supervisor of the appropriate department within ELCFG for comment, technical assistance or other action.
3. If referred internally to ELC-FG staff, the receiving department will advise the sending department of the outcome by completing the bottom portion of the form and returning it to the sending department within 15 days.
4. Unresolved complaints concerning service provision by the ELCFG will be documented and handled through the Review Process.
(e) INFORMATION ABOUT COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
1. Families, providers or members of the public who request a copy of these complaint/dispute resolution procedures will be provided a copy.
2. All School Readiness and VPK providers will also receive a copy of the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Complaint Procedures as part of their “provider packet.”
(f) NOTIFYING A PROVIDER OF COMPLAINT:
ECL-FG staff shall not notify a provider of any complaint that must be reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline or to the licensing authority.
(g) NON-REFERRAL DATABASE STATUS (TEMPORARY) PENDING DCF DETERMINATION OF LICENSURE STATUS:
Pending appeal, a provider may be placed in “do not refer” status in the database when the provider has been the subject of licensing action such as license denial, suspension or revocation.
(h) REMOVAL OF A PROVIDER FROM THE DATABASE:
Once finalized, a provider must be removed from the database (inactivated) when their license has been revoked. (i) ACCESS TO PROVIDER HISTORY:
1. All families receiving CCR&R early care and education referrals will be strongly encouraged to view the licensing authority website myflorida/childcare.com before selecting a provider. All “family information packets” will contain the name, address, and telephone number of the District 3 DCF child care licensing office.
2. Licensing records are available for review by the general public as required by law.
3. Licensing inspections are available on-line at www.myflorida.com/childcare.
I. The Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway (ELCFG) will conduct a Review
proceeding on a petition for review of a disputed complaint resolution, decision or enforcement action of ELCFG (as described above in the Complaint/Dispute Resolution Process).
II. The petition must be received in writing by the Executive Director of ELCFG within 30 days of the originally disputed resolution, decision or enforcement action.
III. The Executive Director of ELCFG will schedule a review proceeding before the Executive Committee of ELCFG within 15 days of receiving the petition.
IV. The Executive Committee will give a petitioner the following: (a) Timely notice of the date, time, and place of the review proceedings.
(b) A fair and impartial review proceeding, the opportunity to be heard, cross-examine adverse witnesses, present evidence, and have an attorney present.
(c) A written decision, within 15 days, that explains the reasons for the Executive Committee's decision.
V. ELCFG shall keep the record of a proceeding and, upon request, give a copy of the record to the petitioner.
VI. A petitioner adversely affected by the Executive Committee's decision from a review proceeding may request the Agency for Workforce Innovation to review the decision to determine if it violates state or federal law, state or federal regulations, or rules adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The request must be submitted in writing to the Office of the General Counsel at the following address:
Agency for Workforce Innovation Office of the General Counsel Caldwell Building, 107 East Madison Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4128 (850) 245-7150.