AL lawmaker delays vote on bill to take away faith-based daycare exemption

AL lawmaker delays vote on bill to take away faith-based daycare exemption

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - An Alabama lawmaker wants to make sure all daycares provide expected and proper care by ending the faith-based exception many facilities currently enjoy.

"As I've said all along, it's about the child," explained Rep. Pebblin Warren.

Alabama is one of just seven states with faith-based exceptions which allows daycares to avoid inspections through the exemption.

"We just have to assume when parents drop their kids off every day, they are putting them in the best hands possible," Warren said. Her own grandson once became sick at a non-licensed daycare.

Unlicensed facilities hit the news back in 2015 when more than 80 kids got STAPH infections at Sunnyside Daycare in Montgomery, a facility that used the faith-based exception.

The Department of Human Resources says about half of state day cares are uninspected. Exempt facilities do not have to meet regulations such as worker-to-child ratios.

Warren's bill did face opposition with concern about potential overreach into what churches are doing. But she does not seem to buy it.

"When we hear churches say 'Churches can't do this. We can't do all this and have a daycare,' and then, on the other hand, I have churches saying 'Yes, they can.' They just got to want to do it. They just have to plan for it. They just have to have the organization in such a way they are really concerned about providing the best services for their children," Warren said.

The bill was carried over this week but Warren said she will work out a compromise to try and make sure the bill gets passed this session.

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