For those among us who are not familiar with or connected to the Keystone Christian Education Association (KCEA is a fellowship of churches and Christian schools which hold to the historical, Biblical faith better known as Christina fundamentalism), you need to know about several cases have been in the Pennsylvania courts which may affect the children’s ministries of every church in the state. Fifteen years ago, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) brought a case against a Catholic church by the name of St. Elizabeth in Allentown. The church had a pre-school/daycare ministry, and the DPW threatened to close the ministry if the church did not comply with state child care policies. Shortly thereafter, the DPW took similar action against several other church ministries, some of which were KCEA members. To make a long story short, the case against St. Elizabeth has been the point case, which will set court precedent for all of the other cases. The case has gone to the highest levels of state courts, and the last step did not favor the church ministries. Suffice it to say that the courts did not consider the state’s case to encroach on First Amendment rights. The St. Elizabeth case has been appealed to the State Supreme Court and is awaiting their action.
DPW is moving to enact policies already drafted which will mandate children’s workers to have state-approved education/training to work in children’s ministries. Currently (as of Friday morning, July 23), the policies are open for public comment until Monday, July 26. Also, the state has defined a “core body of knowledge”, a standard for teaching and learning. The standard includes education concerning diversities which are opposed to the doctrinal/philosophical positions of churches. Churches would be required to follow such policies in order to be licensed. Without licensing, a church would be prevented from ministry to children. Licensure would still radically diminish children’s ministries.
These policies will not face a vote on the state House and Senate floors. The policies are drafted and enforced strictly by department authority. For this reason, you may not have heard of the St. Elizabeth’s case and others like it along with the issues that are at stake. At the bottom of the page, you may download documents pertaining to this matter.
Members of the HAPF stand doctrinally and philosophically against the DPW’s position, but the DPW needs to know this. In order to voice your disapproval of DPW policy, please contact Pastor Matt Jury of Grace Bible chapel in York Springs. The phone number is 717 528 4536 (leave a message with your name and church). Email is pastorATgbcministryDOTcom (replace the AT and DOT with @ and .) KCEA needs to know HAPF’s consensus concerning this matter before Monday morning, when they meet to oppose the state’s actions. Please contact Pastor Jury ASAP.
We as the fellowship need to stand with KCEA against government intrusion into our churches. If we do not act, we cannot cry ‘foul’ when the state encroaches upon our ministries and doctrinal positions.
Core Body of Knowledge — actual policy under consideration
NAEYC Standards for Early Childhood Prof. Prep. Programs — professional standards on which core body was created
NAEYC – Anti-Bias Education— professional standards on which core body was created
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Here are a few key excerpts from the Core Body of Knowledge with a few points highlighted (capitals are not in the original document) for emphasis by the author of this post.
FAITH BASED PROGRAMS ARE NOT EXEMPT
An essential component of the quality improvement system is the development of a comprehensive professional development system that is accessible; based on a clearly articulated framework; includes a continuum of professional development and ongoing supports; and has defined education and career pathways leading to qualifications and credentials, which address the needs of adult learners. This professional development system can apply to practitioners in all settings including center and home-based child care, school-age programs, Head Start, early intervention, school district based pre-kindergarten, Pre-K Counts, nursery schools and faith-based programs.
THE BASIS FOR THE NEW POLICIES
The Early Learning Keys to Quality established guidelines related to professional development. The content utilized for quality improvement for programs and professional development for practitioners should be research-based, incorporate state and national research and best practices, and must build upon current standards including the Early Learning Standards, Keystone STARS Program Standards, NAEYC Accreditation Standards and the Core Body of Knowledge.
PERSONS WORKING WITH CHILDREN WILL BE REQUIRED TO MEET STATE QUALIFICATIONS
A key component of any professional development system is the creation of a core body of knowledge, which identifies a set of content areas that help define the knowledge expectations for all practitioners in all settings within the early childhood education and school-age field. The Pennsylvania Core Body of Knowledge (CBK) is a set of core competencies linked to the learning standards that need to be mastered by all those working with children to facilitate child learning and development and to work effectively with families.
THE POLICIES ARE INTENDED TO EDUCATE CHILDREN IN ATTITUDES THE STATE DETERMINES ARE ADEQUATE
The ELS guide practitioners to intentionally integrate developmental knowledge with the attitudes, skills and concepts children need to make progress in all learning areas.
THE NEXT TWO PASSAGES SHOW THAT THESE POLICIES ARE COMPREHENSIVE — ALL CHILDREN IN ANY SETTING
All early childhood roles and settings are included in the profession and the CBK is relevant in all settings (child care centers, child care homes, Head Start, pre-K programs, schools serving children birth through age 8, nursery schools, early intervention programs, faith-based programs and school-age programs serving children up to age 12).
All early childhood and school-age professionals working with children ages birth to 12, regardless of role or setting, need to master the core body of knowledge. This knowledge base enables the practitioner to develop professional competency. However, professionals may apply the knowledge differently depending on their role and setting. For example, infant-toddler professionals need to develop competency in supporting beginning language development and preschool professionals need to develop competency in supporting specific language skills like speaking in more complex sentences and following multi step
directions. Program directors, school administrators or supervisors need to develop competency in supportive supervision to ensure that staff working with either age group demonstrate competency in supporting developmentally appropriate language acquisition. Some programs (like practitioners in family child care homes) often work with mixed age groups and the same children over multiple years, others work with similar age children for only one year. These variations require different application of knowledge.
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