Early Care & Education 2018 State Legislative Action Report



preschool early education

The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Early Care and Education team tracks introduced and enacted legislation related to child care, prekindergarten, home visiting, parent engagement and support, governance structures and financing of programs. In 2018, state lawmakers introduced nearly 1,300 bills with approximately 114 bills in 37 states signed into law.

This report summarizes significant 2018 legislative enactments in the following categories:

  • Child care (subsidy, quality and access).
  • Early childhood financing.
  • Early childhood governance.
  • Home visiting and parent education.
  • Prekindergarten and school readiness.
  • Prenatal, infants and toddlers.
  • Early care and education workforce.

This report does not include all appropriations bills; however, it does highlight those that contain substantive policy enactments or focus on a specific program model.

Place your mouse over the columns for details.

2018 Early Care and Education Enacted Legislation

Enacted Bills by Topic Map
The map shoows the states that enacted a bill AK WA MT ND NH VT NY MI MN WI OH PA CT NJ RI MA NV OR ID WY SD IA IL IN MO NE HI CO TN AR KS UT CA DE MD WV KY FL SC TX DC AL MS LA OK AZ NC ME VA NM GA PR GU VI AS MP Enacted Bills by Topic Map


Child Care | Subsidy, Quality and Access

In 2018, 27 states passed a total of 57 child care-related bills. Child care legislation covered a range of issues; the most common being health and safety requirements, criminal background checks and licensing. Several legislatures made changes to their states’ child care assistance programs through adjustments to reimbursement rates for providers (Arizona and Maine) and extending child care assistance eligibility (Delaware, Illinois, Maryland and New Hampshire).

Legislation Related to Child Care (subsidy, quality and access)




HB 76: Establishes the Child Care Safety Act and revises the definition of day care center to include preschools. Removes the exemption from licensure of certain child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school. Clarifies that the licensing of a faith-based child care facility may not be construed to infringe upon the rights of the facility to teach or practice a religion.

SB 45: Requires child care centers to provide parents with information about influenza disease and the influenza vaccine.


HB 2449: Creates tiered reimbursement for child care providers that meet certain quality standards.

SB 1165: Requires the Department of Economic Security to annually review and adjust the sliding scale for child care assistance and post the payment rates and sliding scale information on the department's website.


AB 108: Repeals, recasts and revises the law relating to certain counties' individualized child care subsidy plans and changes eligibility criteria for county child care subsidy programs.

AB 605: Requires the State Department of Social Services to adopt regulations to create a child care center license to serve infant, toddler, preschool and school-age children. Requires all centers to be licensed by 2024. Requires the regulations to include components for infant, toddler, preschool and school-age children, and health and safety standards.

AB 2960: Requires the Superintendent of Education to develop and post an online portal for the state's comprehensive child care and development services. Requires the superintendent to convene a stakeholder workgroup to consider and recommend enhancements to the online portal and report its recommendations to the legislature.

AB 3043: Authorizes a school district, county office of education, private nonprofit school, charter school, or residential child care facility that participates in the federal school breakfast program to provide universal breakfast to the maximum extent practical. Specifies that the grants may be expended for a federal summer meals program instead of a summer food service program.


HB 1004: Extends the sunset date for the income tax credit for a qualifying contribution to promote child care in the state.

HB 1064: Directs the State Children's Trust Fund Board to develop and administer a training program to prevent child sexual abuse for persons who work with young children as part of their employment, revises the powers and duties of the board, revises provisions relating to the disbursement of grants from the Trust Fund, revises rules of the voluntary child care credential system.

HB 1335: Establishes eligibility requirements for the Child Care Assistance Program for all counties and creates a new formula to determine the amount of block grants to counties.

SB 99: Aligns application and eligibility requirements for the school-readiness quality improvement program and the infant and toddler quality and availability grant program with the quality rating and improvement system.

SB 162: Creates a license for a substitute placement agency that places or facilitates placement of substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities providing less than 24-hour care.


HB 5169: Requires any child care center or group child care home that provides child care services to homeless children and youths to maintain a record of all homeless children and youths who have attended within a certain number of years. Expands the definition of a family child care home and requires sharing child care provider information with the Department of Emergency Services.


HB 126: Codifies the federal intent of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, which allows families that receive child care assistance to continue receiving that assistance for at least 90 days after losing their job, provided they are seeking employment during that time. Allows families to qualify for and begin receiving assistance while they search for a job.


HB 494: Authorizes hearsay in preliminary hearings regarding emergency closure of an early care and education program or the emergency placement of a monitor. Revises definitions relating to records check determinations and that background checks are not valid if an individual has been separated from employment for more than a certain period.


HB 1650: Authorizes child abuse and neglect reports for incidents occurring in group child care homes or group child care centers to be disclosed to parents or guardians of children enrolled at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect, or to parents or guardians considering enrolling their children. Authorizes the disclosure of a report involving a finding of a felony or misdemeanor to any person upon request.

HB 2530: Repeals provisions relating to the amount of liability insurance coverage required by child care providers and the disclosure of information relating to such coverage to parents and guardians. Extends the implementation and enforcement deadline for liability insurance requirements.


HB 4965: Sets a family's eligibility for child care assistance to be redetermined no sooner than 12 months following the initial determination or most recent redetermination. During the 12-month period, the family shall remain eligible for child care services regardless of a change in family income, unless family income exceeds 85 percent of state median income, or a temporary change in parents’ employment or attending a job training or educational program.

SB 2996: Updates the definition of elevated blood lead level and the requirements for inspection of regulated facilities occupied by children, including child care centers.


HB 1073: Includes additional weapons among the items that must be inaccessible to children in the care of certain child care providers and amends accordingly the child care law concerning the list of imminent threats to children. Prohibits reapplication or granting of a license as a child care home or child care center less than one year after a previous license is revoked. Requires a child care provider to provide documentation from the county, city or town that the child care provider meets all requirements of any applicable local ordinances.

SB 187: Requires safe-sleep training for certain child care providers and specifies civil penalties for providers in violation of safe-sleep-related requirements. Establishes a registration and inspection procedure for child care provided by a church or religious ministry. 


HB 2639: Allows for the collection of a fee for fingerprinting individuals maintaining or residing, working or regularly volunteering at a child care facility.


HB 207: Requires a criminal background check for each child care staff member at a child care facility or at the home of a child care provider.

HB 1146: Authorizes changes to family child care licensing rules related to caregiver-to-child ratios, safety requirements for outdoor play areas and structures, and training requirements for caregivers providing transportation to children.

SB 58: Increases child care provider payment rates to the 75th percentile of local market rates for providers serving families in the child care subsidy program.

SB 124: Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a plan for increasing the number of child care providers participating in certain steps of the child care quality rating system.

SB 658: Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and fund housing-based programs for families affected by substance abuse and requires the programs to provide stable housing and comprehensive services, including child care, that support recovery and unification with children.


HB 4815: Authorizes the use of fingerprint-based checks of state and national criminal history databases for employees and volunteers in licensed and state-funded early childhood programs. Allows for certain provisional child care licenses. Establishes specific persons who are subject to a sex offender registry information check. Allows a disqualified person the opportunity to address department personnel about disqualification.


HB 941: Requires the State Department of Education to administer the child care subsidy program in accordance with federal law, which allows families that receive child care assistance to continue receiving assistance for at least 90 days after losing their job provided they are seeking employment during that time. Allows families to qualify for and begin receiving assistance while they search for a job.


SB 180: Requires background checks and fingerprinting of child care organizations; requires a criminal history check on a person, licensee designee or chief administrator of a child care organization by the state police.


SB 2683 / HB 4249: Redefines who is required to submit to a background check and authorizes the use of the national criminal history record check system in certain instances.

SB 3310 / HB 3403: Requires the Commissioner of Human Services to consider variances for child care center staff qualifications that do not affect health and safety. Clarifies provisions related to infant swaddling sleep practices. Modifies child care license holder insurance requirements and licensing investigations.

HB 3015 / SB 3508: Eliminates the requirement that a child care provider or child care center post a correction order in a conspicuous place.

New Hampshire

SB 570: Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt rules modifying the work requirement for the child care scholarship program to include participation in a mental health or substance abuse treatment program.

North Carolina

SB 168: Directs the Department of Health and Human Services, the Division of Child Development and Early Education and the Division of Social Services to implement the plan requiring child care subsidy payment recipients to cooperate with county child support services programs as a condition of receiving child care subsidy payments.

New Mexico

HB 193: Enacts the Early Childhood Care Accountability Act. Requires the Children, Youth and Families Department to establish early childhood care program standards.

New York

AB 397 / SB 7522: Prohibits smoking at all times in facilities that provide child care services in a private home.

AB 11125: Establishes the crime of knowingly misrepresenting a child caregiver’s background by, or on behalf of, a caregiver. Defines a caregiver as a person employed by or being considered for employment to provide a certain number of hours of care per week to children in their home.


HB 2524: Establishes an anonymous system for reporting and investigating complaints or grievances about retaliation against a child care facility or employee.

HB 3330: Modifies sex offender residency restriction to include a family child care home.


HB 4065: Prohibits providers from providing child care for five years after denial, revocation or voluntary surrender of certification or registration. Continues jurisdiction by the Office of Child Care over actions against child care facilities and permits the office to issue cease and desist orders.

South Carolina

HB 5156: Approves updated quality standards and regulations for licensed child care centers put forth by an advisory committee and the Department of Social Services.


HB 2323 / SB 2313: Prohibits a sexual offender or violent sexual offender from knowingly establishing a primary or secondary residence or accepting employment within a certain number of feet of the property line of any public school, private or parochial school, licensed child care center, public park, playground, or athletic field available for the use by the public


HB 155: Creates an exception for the City of Richmond for the prohibition of locating opiate clinics that use methadone or opioid replacements within one-half mile of a public or private licensed child care center or a public or private K-12 school.

SB 682 / HB 1017: Exempts from licensure any child care program that is offered by a local school division, staffed by local school division employees, and attended by preschool age children or children who are enrolled in public school. Requires such programs be subject to safety and supervisory standards established by the local school board.

HB 545: Requires child care centers seeking exemption from licensure as a religious institution to file with the Commissioner of Social Services prior to beginning operation, and annually thereafter, document evidence that the individual seeking to operate the child care center is not currently ineligible to operate due to a suspended or revoked license. 

HB 836: Prohibits the Board of Social Services from adopting regulations governing child care programs located at public or private school facilities that require inspection or approval of the building, vehicles used to transport children attending the child care program that are owned by the public or private school or meals served to such children that are prepared by the public or private school.

HB 873 / SB 121: Extends the expiration date for requiring child care providers to undergo fingerprint-based national criminal history background checks.

SB 329: Prohibits locating clinics for the treatment of persons with opiate addiction through the use of methadone or opioid replacements within one-half mile of a public or private licensed child care center or a public or private K-12 school.

SB 506: Allows an exemption to a certain children's residential facility in the city of Atkins from child care licensure requirements. 

SB 539: Removes certain programs from the list of child care programs exempt from licensure and clarifies that such programs are not subject to licensure. Modifies the terms of certain child care programs that are exempt from licensure and requires that such programs file with the Commissioner of Social Services prior to beginning operation.


SB 6404 / HB 2784: Requires child care licensees and employees to submit new background check applications and pay associated fees. Exempts in-home and relative providers who receive state subsidies from paying background check fees.

SB 6419: Sets eligibility for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for families whose income is above 110 percent of the federal poverty level if the number of such children equals not more than 25 percent of total statewide enrollment.

West Virginia

HB 4148: Requires certain public or private schools and child care centers to install carbon monoxide detectors.

SB 165 / HB 4129: Authorizes the Department of Health and Human Resources to establish licensing and registration rules for center-based and family in-home child care.

SB 407: Updates definitions related to child advocacy and child care. Eliminates statutory caps on the number of children under specified months of age in family child care facilities and family child care homes.

Early Childhood Financing

Lawmakers appropriated state and federal funds for child care, early literacy, prekindergarten, home visiting and other early childhood programs. Though this report does not include appropriations bills, it does highlight legislation in seven states that addressed funding policies or specific program models. For example, two states (Iowa and Connecticut) authorized greater flexibility with certain state funds so they may be put towards early learning and school-readiness programs.

Legislation Related to Early Childhood Education Financing




HB 1379: Increases funding to add 1,000 additional early childhood at-risk enhancement slots that may be used for preschool students or to extend kindergarten to full-day kindergarten.


HB 5449: Authorizes the retention of up to 2 percent of certain appropriations for evaluating and improving child care programs. Allows the Commissioner of Early Childhood to review and establish rates for school-readiness programs and to expand the use of unexpended school-readiness funds.


HB 565: Authorizes the establishment of school district flexibility accounts into which unexpended and unobligated funds can be deposited. Allows school districts to use flexibility funds for various purposes, including start-up costs for a statewide preschool program.


SB 132: Revises provisions to the administration of the school-readiness tax credit program, grants additional oversight authority to the Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs and the House Committee on Ways and Means.


HB 430 / SB 379: Requires the governor to include in the state budget a certain appropriation to the child care subsidy program each fiscal year. Requires the governor to appropriate certain funds in the state budget to increase child care provider reimbursement rates to a certain amount in certain fiscal years.

HB 547 / SB 373: Renames the state’s Head Start Program as the Ulysses Currie Head Start Program and requires a specified appropriation in each annual budget submission.


HB 326: Encourages savings by participants in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program.


SB 6257 / HB 2650: Requires the creation of a funding model for early intervention services for children under the age of 2. 

Early Childhood Governance

Lawmakers in seven states passed legislation to establish or extend task forces, commissions, committees or studies to address specific early childhood issues. One trend to note is an increased interest in legislatures in child care access. Two states (New York and Washington) enacted legislation to study access to child care and potential policy solutions.

Legislation Related to Early Childhood Governance




HB 71: Requires the Secretary of Early Childhood Education to have a master's degree or at least 36 hours of post-baccalaureate course work in early childhood education or childhood development, and extensive experience in educational supervision and management in early childhood education.


SB 163: Extends the repeal date of the Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission.


HB 2507: Removes preschools from the Superintendent of Education's scope of authority and clarifies that the director of the Executive Office on Early Learning may authorize preschool personnel access to a student's immunization registry information.


HB 199: Establishes the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD- K) Task Force, to study and report recommendations for assessing children birth to five who are deaf or hard of hearing. Requires the state Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Health to provide a response to the report to the legislature.

HB 676: Establishes the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission and requires it to study early childhood issues, report to and make recommendations to the legislature.

New York

SB 7312 / AB 9003: Establishes a child care-availability taskforce to evaluate the need for and availability of child care throughout the state.


HB 2691: Directs the child care facilities advisory committee within the Department of Human Services to review and approve or disapprove any proposed star rating reduction of a child care center. Allows for a probationary period to correct problems. Authorizes reducing a star rating if problems are not corrected and prohibits reduction below a specified level.

SB 1517: Creates the Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care to recommend options and strategies for implementing a coordinated approach to preventing trauma in children as well as interventions for children and families who are at risk of experiencing trauma.


HB 2367: Establishes a child care collaborative task force to develop policies and recommendations to incentivize employer-supported child care and improve child care access and affordability for employees.

HB 2779 / SB 6485: Improves access to mental health services for children and youth and re-establishes the Children's Mental Health Work Group.

HB 2816 / SB 6441: Transfers the Working Connections and Seasonal Child Care programs to the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

HB 2861: Directs the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to develop a five-year strategy to expand training and awareness in trauma identification and positive behavior supports in early learning environments to improve outcomes for young children.

Home Visiting and Parent Education

High-quality home visiting programs have been shown to improve outcomes for children and families, particularly those that face added challenges, such as teen- or single-parenthood, maternal depression or lack of social or financial supports. Two states passed home visiting legislation in 2018.

Legislation related to Home Visiting and Parent Education



New Hampshire

SB 592: Authorizes the use of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to expand home visiting and child care services through family resource centers. Requires the development of evidence-based parental assistance programs aimed at reducing child maltreatment and improving parent-child interactions.


SB 161: Creates an evidence-based nurse home visiting pay-for-success program, describes the requirements of the program, allows that the program is funded through a contractual relationship between the Department of Health and one or more private investors, and allows for success payments to investors if performance goals outlined in the pay-for-success contract are met by the program.

Prekindergarten and School Readiness

Thirteen states enacted prekindergarten and school-readiness legislation. Three states (Georgia, Ohio and Virginia) passed legislation to limit or prohibit the expulsion of children in early childhood programs. Lawmakers in two states (California and Massachusetts) expanded services to dual-language learners.

Legislation Related to Prekindergarten and School Readiness




AB 2514: Establishes the Pathways to Success Grant Program with the goal of providing pupils in preschool, transitional kindergarten and K-12 inclusive dual-language immersion programs, developmental bilingual programs for English learners, or early learning dual-language learners programs. Requires the Department of Education to administer the program by a certain date and award grants.


HB 1134: Creates eligibility requirements for a child using a preschool program position to enroll in a district's full-day kindergarten program.

HB 1393: Expands the purposes for which a local education provider may use per-pupil intervention funds; requires information on how per-pupil intervention money was spent. Directs the state board, in adopting rules for applying for grants through the early literacy grant program, to ensure that rural school districts and small rural school districts can submit simplified grant applications. Directs the Commissioner of Education to convene a working group to review the creation and use of Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) plans by local education providers and to recommend regulatory or implementation changes to improve the use and effectiveness of READ plans. Requires a report of the findings and recommendations to the state board and the legislative education committees.


HB 5335: Aligns the coordinated statewide reading plan for students in kindergarten to third grade with the state's two-generational initiative.


HB 1091 / SB 1254: Revises the definition of at-risk child and the duties of the Office of Early Learning. Allows for the development of a program assessment for school readiness providers and revises the standard statewide contract for providers.


HB 740: Requires local school systems to conduct a certain multi-tiered system of supports and reviews prior to expelling or assigning a student in preschool through third grade to out-of-school suspension for five or more consecutive or cumulative days during a school year.


HB 5771: Defines chronic absence. Requires publicly funded early childhood programs receiving Preschool for All Block Grant funds or Preschool for All Expansion Block Grant funds to collect and review data on chronic absenteeism and determine what systems of support and resources are needed to engage chronically absent students and their families to encourage the habit of daily attendance and promote success.

New York

SB 1694 / AB 982: Establishes that all school districts are approved evaluators of preschool students suspected of having a disability.

SB 6703 / AB 8305: Authorizes the City of New York to discontinue the use of certain park land for construction and operation of a prekindergarten center with a focus on instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


HB 4032 / HB 3740: Extends “two-way immersion” programming, in which students receive instruction in all core curricula in both their native language and English, to students in prekindergarten.


HB 318: Enacts the Supporting Alternatives for Education (SAFE) Act and requires schools to implement positive behavior and intervention supports (PBIS) framework and makes an appropriation. Prohibits out-of-school suspension or expulsion of students in prekindergarten through third grade for minor offenses. Requires full implementation of the prohibition by the 2021-2022 school year. Requires each school district and school to annually report all out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of prekindergarten through third grade students categorized by type of offense.

South Carolina

HB 3591: Specifies the benchmarks and objectives required as part of the First Steps to School Readiness comprehensive long-range initiative and requires approval of the benchmarks and objectives by the first steps to school readiness board of trustees. Outlines the First Steps to School Readiness assessment and imposes requirements for reporting and use of the results of the assessment.


HB 2376 / SB 2381: Requires the Department of Education to transmit its model policy for alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices for students in prekindergarten and kindergarten by email to the chairs of the education committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives when the department disseminates the model policy to the local education agencies.


HB 380: Moves the School Readiness Board from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget to the Department of Workforce Services. Requires the State Board of Education to develop a school-readiness program entry assessment and certain programs to administer school-readiness program entry and exit assessments.

SB 115: Permits the State Board of Education to issue a request for proposals and enter into a contract for a pilot of a home-based educational technology program.


HB 867 / SB 702: Modifies the licensure exemption requirements for certified preschool programs operated by a private school that is accredited by an organization recognized by the Board of Education. Allows children below the age of eligibility for kindergarten to attend the preschool program for more than five hours per day if the preschool maintains a certain ratio.

SB 170: Prohibits students in preschool through third grade from being suspended or expelled except for drug offenses, firearm offenses or certain criminal acts.

Prenatal, Infants and Toddlers

In 2018, at least three states and the District of Columbia passed bills specifically to support pregnant and new mothers, infants and toddlers. Legislation covered issues such as maternal and child well-being and mental health, safe sleep practices and developmental screenings.

For additional legislation related to maternal and child health, please see NCSL’s Maternal and Child Health database.

Legislation Related to Prenatal, Infants and Toddlers




AB 340: Requires that screening services under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) Program include screening for trauma. Requires the adoption of tools and protocols for screening children for trauma.

AB 1893: Requires the Department of Public Health to investigate and apply for federal funding opportunities regarding maternal mental health. Requires the department to notify the legislature on the department's efforts to secure and utilize the federal funding it receives.

AB 2698: Authorizes the use of subsidized child care fund to reimburse child care providers and preschool programs in which early childhood mental health consultation services are offered.  


SB 206: Authorizes pregnancy as a qualifying event for special health insurance enrollment periods for certain individuals and permits certain pregnant individuals to enroll in a health insurance policy or plan not later than 30 days after the individual's pregnancy has been certified by a licensed health care provider.

District of Columbia

B 172: Establishes a Maternal Mental Health Task Force to study maternal mental health care needs, requires the task force to submit a report to the mayor and the council setting forth its findings and recommendations. Requires council approval of mayoral nominees to the Maternal Mental Health Task Force.

B 203: Requires the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services to expand and coordinate health care for infants and toddlers under age 3, including increasing the utilization of breastfeeding among new mothers, strengthening the existing lactation support infrastructure and requiring participating primary care and prenatal care providers to provide patient-centered care to pregnant women, new mothers and babies.

New York

AB 9868 / SB 8955: Requires autism screening established by the Bright Futures guidelines and American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for preventive health care for children under the age of 3.

SB 7408 / AB 8957: Requires a newborn health and safe-sleep study and specifies that the study include a review of baby boxes and other products aimed at encouraging safe and healthy sleep practices. Requires a pilot program to improve caregiver education and continued safe-sleep practices in areas with high infant mortality rates.

Early Care and Education Workforce

Eight states passed legislation addressing early childhood workforce issues such as educator training requirements, qualifications, licensing and teacher shortages.

Legislation Related to the Early Care and Education Workforce




HB 5450: Delays changes to required qualifications for early childhood educators in programs receiving state funds.


SB 1829:  Allows teachers to teach in an early childhood program if they currently have or are pursuing a professional educator license and meet a combination of other requirements, including early childhood endorsements, credentials and/or have completed a certain amount of coursework in early childhood education.

SB 3536: Allows preschool programs to participate in the Alternative Educator Licensure Program for Teachers.


HB 13: Adds professional development presenters, tutors and prekindergarten teachers to the list of “critical shortage positions” for which retired teachers may be considered for reemployment.


SB 58: Repeals several provisions of the State Board for Certification of Residential Child Care Program Professionals, including immunity from liability, training requirements and requiring the board to post approved training programs on its website.


LB 717: Changes training requirements under the Quality Child Care Act to include training on sudden unexpected infant death syndrome, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse.

LB 803: Allows the state board of education to adopt rules to exempt certain prekindergarten programs from requiring teachers and administrators to hold certificates or permits.


HB 2692: Allows a director of a child care facility to qualify as a master teacher.


HB 1686 / SB 1854: Requires local education agencies that receive prekindergarten program approval to utilize the prekindergarten and kindergarten growth portfolio model approved by the State Board of Education in the evaluation of prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers.


HB 1156: Requires the Board of Education to provide for licensure of teachers with an endorsement in dual-language instruction for prekindergarten through sixth grade.

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