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Outdoor Nature-Based Preschool Programs

Concerning including outdoor nature-based preschool programs as a type of child care center in the department of early childhood for licensing-related matters, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2024 Regular Session
Education & School Finance (Pre & K-12)
Human Services
Bill Summary

The bill includes outdoor nature-based preschool programs (outdoor programs) as a type of licensed child care center (center) in the department of early childhood (department) for licensing-related matters. No later than December 31, 2025, the executive director of the department shall promulgate rules for centers operating as outdoor programs. The rules must include, but are not limited to:

  • Land-use agreement requirements for outdoor programs operating on public or private land;
  • Policies for site-specific alternate shelter plans;
  • Policies for site-specific risk mitigation plans;
  • Policies for site-specific emergency and disaster preparedness plans;
  • Policies for site-specific evacuation plans; and
  • Policies and procedures for outdoor programs to opt out of certain department requirements through the site-specific risk mitigation plan.

The bill requires the department to provide training to licensing staff who oversee outdoor program site inspections and to outdoor program operators and staff. The department shall provide training to outdoor program operators and staff beginning December 1, 2026.

The department shall collaborate with local fire departments on fire prevention and protection requirements for outdoor programs. The department shall collaborate with the department of public health and environment on sanitary standards for outdoor programs.

The bill requires the general assembly to appropriate $30,000 from the child care licensing cash fund to the department for the 2024-25 fiscal year, and for each fiscal year through the 2026-27 fiscal year, to implement the outdoor programs. The bill appropriates $179,569 to the department for purposes licensing outdoor programs. The appropriation consists of $149,459 from the general fund and $30,000 from the cash fund.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details