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.”