HB76 is Critical for Child Safety in Alabama 
By Lenice C. Emanuel, MLA
Executive Director
Having trouble viewing this email? Click here.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is Power is a bi-weekly blog by the Alabama Institute for Social Justice offering information, stories, and thoughts to inspire, educate, and empower.
Last year, lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives voted in favor of the Child Care Safety Act - HB277 (now HB76), which was introduced by Representative Pebblin Warren , D-Tuskegee. The act mandates annual inspections for child care facilities in the state. Without the act in place, hundreds of unlicensed child care facilities, like those commonly affiliated with religious organizations, are exempt from state inspection. Although the bill passed with a House vote of 88-9, it was killed once it moved to the Senate.
 This week, a public hearing was held where Representative Pebblin Warren and other community leaders, including Alabama Institute for Social Justice representative, Deborah Thomas, spoke about the importance of
HB76 to ensure child
safety for all of
Alabama’s children.
Pictured: Representative Pebblin Warren and
AISJ representative, Deborah Thomas.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources is tasked with the regulation of child care facilities. However, those facilities with religious affiliations are currently exempt from both licensing and inspection, even though many of them receive state or federal funds. As it stands, unlicensed child care facilities remain able to operate without being subjected to annual inspections. Free from regulation, about half of the child care facilities in Alabama operate without this crucial scrutiny.
The lack of mandatory licensing and/or inspection means that many Alabama child care facilities are not required to meet standards such as those outlined below:
  • Facilities do not have to meet minimum health and safety standards.
  • They do not have to conduct criminal background checks on child care staff members.
  • They do not have to maintain any standards related to staff-to-child ratios.
  • They are not required to undergo annual inspections.
  • Child care staff members do not have to receive CPR training.

Those in opposition to the bill cited potential infringement of religious rights as a major concern in having the bill passed. 
At its core, the bill was designed as a protective mechanism for children entrusted to child care facilities and to provide peace of mind for their parents. “The House Bill 76 is about protecting our children, plain and simple,” Rep. Warren said. “It’s not about religious preferences. It’s all about the health and safety of children.”
Yesterday’s public hearing received a favorable report and tomorrow HB76 will be voted on by the entire House. Please call your House representative TODAY and urge them to say YES to HB76 . Click here to view a full list of Alabama House of Representatives listed by district and their phone numbers. 

To learn more about AISJ, visit us online at www.ALisj.org