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Number of unlicensed day cares drops in state

November 24, 2018

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The number of unlicensed day cares is falling in Alabama.

According to numbers from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the number of day cares that claim a licensure exemption dropped from 953 to 838 over the last year, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. That equals a 12 percent reduction.

Federal regulations from 2014 began requiring facilities that accept federal money to get inspected. Alabama lawmakers last spring voted to require facilities to get licensed if they receive government funds. They also voted to put additional reporting requirements on unlicensed centers.

“Some of the providers who were exempt are becoming licensed,” said Jeanetta Green, the director of DHR’s child care services division. “But then we’re also seeing exempt providers who are no longer operating at all.”

Alabama has long exempted day cares that claim a religious exemption from the licensure requirement. Critics say the broad exemption is open to abuse and leaves children vulnerable. Some facilities that claim the religious exemption are not affiliated with a standing church.

Lawmakers approved the limited changes after a series of incidents at unlicensed centers.

Besides the licensing requirements for day cares receiving federal or state dollars, the 2018 legislation requires exempt day cares to get annual fire and health inspections. The centers must provide documentation of those inspections to DHR, along with criminal histories among their employees.

“The purpose wasn’t to make anyone lose money or put anybody out of business,” said bill sponsor Rep. Pebblin Warren. “The purpose was to increase health and safety for children.”

Warren had originally sought to require all day cares to be licensed, but that proposal received pushback from some church-affiliated groups.

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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