Excerpt from Area Report 4/15/13 (Desiree D) - DEL



Department of Early Learning (DEL)

A UMCC meeting was held and it was requested that I provide a summary of the meeting. On the agenda was an item that led us to discuss the new practice of reporting all allegations of abuse to DCFS and mandatory suspension of the license of the center employee( s) and the daycare center manager. We talked about how to get quick resolution so the licensee will not have great financial impact and to lessen the workload impact to staff.

We discussed and management agreed to add the Safety Recall requirements to the annual declaration form. One issue where we did not find resolution is the problem that the new computer system will not do client alias checks; they now have to be done manually by support staff. Our committee will work with support staff to identify ways to restructure the work to reduce workload impacts.

The new portable background check system is required by a bill passed by the Legislature. You can find links to the RCWs and DEL policy and MERIT on their website. The agency has installed a new database called MERIT to house the background check information. Supposedly, this will reduce workload as management expects the client to enter their own data. The increase in background checks and the workload impact as the age limit is expanded to include 13-15 year old children (they may have felony convictions). Under these provisions, all 30,000 currently licensed homes, centers and facilities will undergo a background check (even if they received it last month). The new process began July 1, 2012 and all have to have the check and possibly fingerprints by July 1,2013. This goes for all professionals, administrators, staff, and residents regardless of age. In the past, every time a worker moved on to a new employer; a new background check was required (center-hopping). The new system will transfer the new background check with the employee for three (3) years. The information is stored and available
thru MERIT.

The agency made a request for six (6) FTEs to implement the background checks and MERIT (a register of professional staff and their training, licenses and certifications). They were allocated zero (0) FTE. The agency has set aside money to pay for six (6) non-permanent positions.

Management believes the additional help will be needed around March – June, 2013. They acknowledge that they will have the same problem in the third year following the initial checks and every third year following that. It was stated that 1/3 of the folks will have clean records and that the licensor will not need to touch these cases. However, the cases where disqualification occurs, a licensor will have to review and make a decision.

When asked what will trigger the use of the six (6) temporaries, Management responded that they will communicate with licensors to hear workload concerns. They have the ability to track background check applications on a monthly basis and will be able to foresee the trend and need to add staff.

Management encourages employees to communicate with their supervisors. Management has delegated authority to supervisors to implement a range of tools to assist struggling employees. Supervisors will prioritize work, they can reassign work to worker with less workload pressure, they can authorize overtime, and as a last resort, they can extend the policy deadlines. Supervisors are encouraged to offer assistance and mentor at the earliest stage possible. Performance evaluations will not memorialize incidents of employees’ need for assistance as a negative. However, consistent performance problems may be documented if there is no
improvement. So communication with the supervisor is imperative.

Management agreed that if these deadlines become a statewide concern; they are willing to adjust the requirements.

There is no policy or procedure on removing case files from the office. The agency practice is inconsistent. The agency is surveying staff using the Unit meetings to find out how employees who do not take files from the office to the field do their jobs. Or if they take a minimum of documents, what are they?

They are also surveying what information is available remotely using the laptop/tablet. Management agrees that copying the file does not make sense. They are looking for best practices that can be implemented statewide. No decision has been made on this issue; member input is needed.

A few weeks following the UMCC, I had a phone conversation with DEL management concerning changing the current practice for parking at its Olympia Office. The parking would continue to be offered by seniority however, the issue is whether an individual should be assigned a specific parking space. After hearing from our members we learned that there are concerns. I have notified management that if they plan to move forward with the proposal, a notice should be sent to our Executive Director. This will allow us to file a demand to bargain. We are waiting for management’s response. No changes have been implemented at this time.

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