HB277 is About Satisfying Federal Grants, Not Safety

Please contact your Senator NOW and ask that they vote NO on HB277.  You may reach your Senator at (334) 242-7800.  New information has come to our attention this week.  Please see below.

Eagle Forum of Alabama has received new information this week regarding HB277. We ask for you to oppose HB277 as it seriously threatens religious liberty of ministries in Alabama. We do not want to see the Federal Government controlling internal policies of church ministries.

Reviewing DHR’s application for the 2016-2018 Child Care Development Fund grant leaves zero doubt HB277 was written and presented for the sole purpose of DHR meeting requirements as set forth in the grant award.  HB277, the Child Care Safety Act, can be directly tied back to DHR.

The following is a summary of facts regarding the Alabama Child Care Development Fund (CCDF):
•    Nancy Buckner was sent a letter from Administration for Children and Families (Office of Child Care) on June 14, 2016, informing her Alabama DHR was conditionally awarded CCDF Funds for three years, beginning June 1, 2016 thru September 30, 2018.  ‘Conditionally approved’ means conditions in the grant must be met by specific dates during the grant cycle.
•    Faye Nelson, Deputy Commissioner for Family Services (DHR) is listed as the person responsible for the grant submission and oversight of distribution of funds and compliance to unmet requirements.
•    DHR received $92,297,586 in CCDF funds for 2016.  2017 and 2018 funding amounts have not been released.  (Source: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/fy-2016-ccdf-allocations-including-redistributed-funds )
•    Alabama DHR is contracting with Quality Enhancement Agencies (Voices?) to administer subsidy program eligibility services and quality enhancement. (p. 21)
•    Alabama DHR and Alabama Partnership for Children received $1.2 million from the Kellogg Foundation specifically to promote licensing and regulation by educating parents, providers, faith-based leaders, policy makers and the community about the benefits of regulated child care settings.  (p. 27; wkkf.org) “Don’t Be in the Dark” campaign.  It’s about child safety, right?
•    DHR contracts with Quality Enhancement Agencies (Voices?) to provide consumer education to inform the public about quality child care and assist families in making informed child care choices.  “Don’t Be in the Dark” campaign. (p. 29)
•    A requirement for a state to receive CCDF funds is, “Each state is required to certify it has in effect licensing requirements applicable to all child care services provided within the state (not restricted to providers receiving CCDF), and to provide a detailed description of such requirements and how such requirements are effectively enforced.”  (p. 110)
•    DHR states in their grant application, “There are no current staff to child ratio or group size requirements for exempt programs.  DHR will have requirements in place by September 30, 2016 for exempt programs participating in the child care subsidy program. Exempt child care programs participating in the subsidy program will be subject to the same staff/child ratios and group size as licensed programs.” (p. 116)
•    CCDF grant requirements mandates states establish health and safety requirements for providers serving children receiving CCDF assistance.  DHR stated in the grant application they would have these health and safety requirements (Minimum Standards) in place no later than July 31, 2016.  (p. 123)
•    DHR states in their grant application they will have policies and practices implemented to ensure that providers for children receiving assistance and their facilities comply with applicable State or local licensing and health and safety requirements no later than August 31, 2016.  (p. 131)
•    CCDF grant requirements mandate license-exempt CCDF providers be inspected by DHR at least once prior to opening and at least once annually. (p.136)
•    Grant requirements mandate criminal background checks on child care staff members and prospective child care members no later than September 30, 2017.
•    DHR states in its grant application they have a statewide quality rating and improvement system in place as of March, 2016.  There are currently 26 STARS rated facilities in the entire state.  26 out of over 1,000.