Bill to Increase Safety at Child Daycare Centers Clears the State Senate

By Gerald Dial

Montgomery, Ala. – The Alabama Legislature on Thursday approved a measure, sponsored by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) and Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), that will increase safety reporting requirements for faith-based child daycare centers, while protecting those same daycare centers from being licensed by the state Department of Public Health (DHR).

“This legislation was the product of an extensive discussion between public safety advocates and pastors and religious leaders across Alabama,” Senator Dial said Tuesday morning. “There have been several tragic deaths over the past few years at daycare centers, some of which have included unlicensed facilities. With this bill, all daycare centers will be required to do annual health and fire safety inspections and criminal background checks on their employees – while at the same time, we have preserved the licensure exemption for faith-based daycare centers.”

In August of 2017, five year-old Kamden Johnson died after being trapped in a van that belonged to the Community Nursery & Preschool Academy. An employee of the preschool, which is run by Community Church Ministries and exempt from DHR licensure, has been charged with manslaughter.

House Bill 76, which now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature, requires that all daycare centers which receive federal or state funds be licensed by the state Department of Public Health. Faith-based daycare centers that don’t receive government funds can still operate without having a DHR license. All daycare centers, including faith-based ones, must carry liability insurance, conduct annual fire and health inspections, and conduct criminal background checks on employees.

Gerald Dial represents District 13 in the Alabama State Senate, which includes all or parts of Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Lee, and Randolph counties.