Following the tragic death of 5-year-old Kamden Johnson at an unlicensed daycare in Mobile, Ala., Governor Kay Ivey said state laws need to change and that she believes all daycare centers operating in Alabama should be licensed through the state.
“I strongly favor that if you’re going to be a daycare center for children you need to be licensed by the state,“ Ivey told reporters while attending the Association of County Commissions of Alabama Convention in Orange Beach.
Alabama is only one of seven states that still allows daycare centers to operate without regulation if they are a part of a church or ministry. Under current law, child care centers may claim religious exemption status and avoid background checks for workers and facility inspections. Many purport Johnson’s death could have been avoided had the facility been licensed and the workers better vetted.
This isn’t the first time this year the notion of licensing daycares has come up in the Yellowhammer State. In April, the state Legislature considered HB277, the Child Care Safety Act, which would have required more oversight for faith-based daycares.
While the bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives, it ultimately died in the Senate.
“Any child that’s in the care of a daycare center, that center needs to be licensed to ensure that we’ve got quality folks rendering quality service to protect our children,” added Ivey.