House committee approves day care regulation bill

A House of Representatives committee approved Tuesday a compromise proposal that would give the state limited oversight over hundreds of faith-based day cares that are currently unregulated by the state.

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 3:32 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A House of Representatives committee approved Tuesday a compromise proposal that would give the state limited oversight over hundreds of faith-based day cares that are currently unregulated by the state.

The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the House floor. The approval came after a lengthy public hearing in which advocates named children who had been injured, or killed, in exempt centers.

"Everybody knows we have a problem," bill sponsor Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said.

Alabama has had a longstanding law exempting faith-based day cares from state licensure and regulations such as maximum child-to-worker ratios. Nearly half of the 1,914 day cares in the state claim the religious exemption, according to the Department of Human Resources.

Under the compromise bill, the centers would remain exempt from getting a license, but the state would be able to inspect the centers once yearly. They would also have to submit names of workers and their criminal histories. Centers who take government subsidies would have to be licensed. Exempt facilities would have to post notices that they are not licensed by the state.

Opponents of the bill said they were worried about additional regulations on church-run day cares.

John Eidsmoe, senior counsel with the Foundation for Moral Law, told the committee the centers are already accountable to parents and the church.

"Our concern about this bill is that it is the foot in the door that leads to further regulation," Eidsmoe said.

During the public hearing, Melanie R. Bridgeforth, executive director of VOICES for Alabama's Children, named some of the children who had been injured, or in one case killed, in recent high-profile incidents that involved exempt centers.

Eighty-six children were sickened in 2015 at a Montgomery facility after eating food that had been left out overnight. A 5-year-old in Mobile died in August after being left inside a van at an exempt center.

The House approved similar legislation last year, but the bill failed to get a vote in the Alabama Senate. Warren said she hopes to quickly get a floor vote in the Alabama House.

"We stood up here and allowed this bill to die, and in August we had a child dead. I think that put a whole different perspective on what we are responsible for and what we cannot let continue to go in the state of Alabama," Warren said.

Warren said many exempt centers aren't part of actual churches, but are for-profit endeavors that claim a religious affiliation on paperwork to escape regulation by the state.

Warren had initially sought to require all day cares to be licensed in the state, but the proposal got pushback from churches.

J. Robin Mears, executive director of the Alabama Christian Education Association, said the group opposed a licensing requirement but that the current bill was a "right balance" that the organization could support.

"It respects parents and their choice of care for their children. It does require the church to provide complete disclosure to every parent about their childcare ministry," Mears said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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