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OCYF to Issue 11 -15 Passenger Van Clarification
November 1, 2003

In discussion with the PCPA/PCCYF RTF Work Group on October 30, Cindi Golden, Program Specialist, Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), notified the group that the OCYF clarification on the use of 11 – 15 passenger vans by residential facilities governed by Chapter 3800 regulations should be forthcoming in the next two weeks. State and federal aw prohibits the use of vans of this size with school children because of their poor safety records. In April OCYF issued a policy clarification that indicated the use of such vans should be discontinued immediately due to interpretation by the Pennsylvania State Police and Department of Transportation (PennDOT) that residential facilities were classified as schools. The new clarification will allow for the development of a transition plan by providers to replace these vans. The policy clarification is currently being reviewed by OCYF regional directors. The state office is also working with the regional directors to provide guidelines about the transition plans to assure consistency in interpretation of “appropriate” plans.

Transition Plan Requirements
According to Golden, providers will have 90 days from the date of policy clarification issue to submit a transition plan to the OCYF regional director. The 90-day time frame is not the amount of time the provider has to complete the transition, it is the amount of time available to craft and submit an appropriate written plan. Providers must include the following information in the plan:

  • The number of vans affected at the agency,
  • Whether affected vans are leased or purchased,
  • Necessary time frames to make the transition to smaller vehicles,
  • The process by which that transition will occur,
  • Documentation of the costs that will be affected by the transition, including the need for increased staff, maintenance and insurance costs for more vehicles, the need for increased use of vehicles owned by staff, etc., and
  • A copy of a letter submitted by the provider to their insurance company notifying them that they are currently using these vans.

Response of State Police to Transition Plans
Golden also provided information to the work group about the planned response by the Pennsylvania State Police to facilities during the course of the transition to new vehicles. She indicated that citations for the use of such vans can only be a secondary offense (i.e. the driver must be stopped for another violation in order to be cited for transporting school children in an 11 – 15 passenger van). As well, Ms. Golden indicated that the Pennsylvania State Police and PennDOT will have copies of the policy clarification from OCYF and are aware that providers will need time to make the transition to discontinue the use of such vehicles. She indicated that police will not be coming to facilities to look for vans, nor will they pull up registrations of such vehicles to see if they are being used by providers.

Safety Suggestions
During the period of transition, Golden offered suggestions from PennDOT to decrease the safety risks to providers of using such vehicles for children in service. They include:

  • Do not transport more than 10 persons (including the driver) in the van at any time regardless of seating capacity.
  • Place all persons in front of the rear axle for greater vehicle stability (i.e. do not seat anyone or place any cargo in the rear seat.)
  • Remove the rear seat of the vehicle. (Altering the seating availability in the van – taking out the rear seat – does NOT change the capacity of the van.)

Ms. Golden acknowledged the difficulties faced by providers in making this transition, not only in staffing patterns, but also in other costs. However, she also noted that there are no funds available from OCYF to assist providers in offsetting these costs. PCPA encourages providers to begin working on a transition plan for these vehicles now if that process has not already been started. The Association will assure distribution of the policy clarification to all children’s provider members on its release. Additional questions and concerns can be addressed to Kris Ericson at PCPA.

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