A bill to add regulations for child care centers that are exempt from state licensing because of a church affiliation passed the Alabama House of Representatives this afternoon.
The House passed the bill 86-5 after a long debate, mostly about an amendment that was eventually adopted in a close vote. The bill moves to the Senate.
Advocates who say tighter measures are needed for child safety have faced opposition from some concerned about state involvement in church programs.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources licenses, inspects and sets minimum standards for child care centers. The minimum standards are extensive and include child-to-staff ratios, staff training and education, building space, bathroom facilities and outdoor area, meals, transportation rules and many other areas.
But about half the almost 2,000 centers in the state are exempt from licensing because of a church affiliation.
The bill by Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, is a compromise that maintains the license exemption for church-affiliated centers that do not receive any government funding but requires them to report additional information to DHR.
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