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The ‘Child Care Safety Act’ or HB 277, could hold all child care centers to the same standards

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --Many parents across the state depend on child care centers to help them take care of their children. A new bill at the state level could change the way some of those centers operate.

Currently, state law does not require religiously affiliated day cares to have a license or regular inspections. The Child Care Safety Act, or HB 277, would require licensing and inspection standards of all child care providers. It proposes no more exemptions.

Morgan County Representative Terri Collins is a co-sponsor of the bill. She said right now, some child care centers with less than ethical intentions hide under the cover of faith.

"That is the point of Rep. Warren's bill, is to make sure that nobody is slipping under the radar," she explained.

Similar bills have been proposed before without passing. Collins thinks this one has the support it needs behind it.

"She's worked with a lot of the faith-based centers that feel very strongly that this is important to do. They feel protected by the language in the bill," she said.

The bill isn't meant to try to regulate religion in child care centers. It's just making sure that the licensing meets certain minimum requirements.

"The bill spells out that there is no limits on how their religion can be taught, or what they do. It's not about that," said Collins.

Ashley Blackmon is the owner and operator of state regulated A Perfect Start Learning Center. She thinks this bill is a positive push child care centers need.

"I think that would be a plus for them to say hey, we've received the health and safety training and so we stand up to licensed centers," she explained.

She also thinks this will help ease parents concerns about the health and safety of their children.

"Normally the owner or director is trained, and then they are to pass it down. Well in this case, every person that works with a child will have to be trained, and well-trained," Blackmon explained.

She said from talking with other centers, there's nothing but positivity surrounding the bill.

"I believe that with the bad news that we've encountered with the unlicensed centers, I think a lot of others will begin to step up."

She wants to ease unlicensed centers fears. She said most of the requirements are probably stuff they already do, such as certain teacher to child ratios, covering electrical outlets, and having sanitary standards.

"For everyone to not be afraid of being regulated. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it you know. To me it holds me accountable, and that's what I love," she said.

The bill is in the very beginning stages of the Alabama legislature. The next step is for the bill to go to committee.