Committee votes to regulate all day cares, end exemptions

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A House committee has approved a bill to require all day cares to be licensed and end a longstanding exemption for faith-based facilities.

Alabama is one of a handful of states that exempt church-affiliated day cares from state regulation. About half of day cares in the state are exempt.

The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee approved the bill Wednesday on a unanimous vote, a victory for advocacy groups who fought to end the exemption.

The vote came after an emotional public hearing. Parents described neglect and abuse that occurred at uninspected daycares. Opponents argued that most church facilities are well run.

Exempt facilities do not have to meet state childcare regulations such as maximum worker-to-child ratios.

The bill by Rep. Pebblin Warren now moves to the House floor.