AL lawmakers vote to give oversight over faith based daycares

AL lawmakers vote to give oversight over faith based daycares

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA/AP) - Alabama lawmakers have voted to give the state limited oversight over faith based daycares. The Alabama Senate voted 22-4 on Thursday for the compromise legislation.

Gov. Kay Ivey's press office said she will review the bill before making a decision on signing it into law.

Alabama has long exempted daycares that claim a religious affiliation from the requirement to get a state license and standards such as required child-to-worker ratios. Nearly half of the daycare centers in the state are unlicensed.

The bill requires faith based day cares that receive any state or federal funds to get licensed by the state. It would also require exempt centers to submit proof of fire and safety inspections and background checks on workers.

VOICES for Alabama's Children, a child advocacy organization, told WSFA 12 News following the bill's passage that its position on child care licensing remains the same, that all child care facilities should be licensed and inspected.

"While HB 76, the Child Care Safety Act is an incremental step in the right direction it is far from the ideal legislation that we believe the children of Alabama deserve.  According to 2017 Alabama Kids Count Data Book, by 2027 license exempt programs could make up more than 63 percent of all child care in Alabama. The current bill, as is, will not curb the growth of unlicensed child care. One way to do this is to implement minimum floor protections. VOICES has always and will continue striving for futuristic, long-term policy solutions to keep children safe."

Rep. Pebblin Warren, the bill's sponsor, praised the passage as a significant step forward for child safety.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report.