Determined, Pebblin Warren re-files bill to require oversight of faith-based day care centers

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Tuskegee-Democrat state Rep. Pebblin Warren has once again introduced a bill that would require all day care facilities statewide to be licensed and regulated by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

For the second year in a row, Warren has filed the Child Care Safety Act, which endeavors to give oversight to child care centers for the protection and benefit of the children.

Under existing law, the term day care center is defined as a child care facility that receives more than 12 children for daytime care. The term includes child care centers, day nurseries, nursery schools, pre-kindergartens, kindergartens, and play groups, including those that are operated as part of a private school if they provide care for more than four hours a day.
Also under existing law, faith-based daycares are exempt from state regulations and standards. HB76, endeavors to change that.

This isn’t the first time the notion of licensing daycares has come up in the Yellowhammer State. Last session 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 in April.

The issue of licensing all day cares was revisited last summer 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 in August.

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.

According to VOICES for Alabama’s Children about half of the daycares in the state are uninspected, as evidenced by to numbers from the Department of Human Resources.