Tag: Child Care

Eagle Forum of Alabama Press Release on Alabama’s Child Care Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Deborah Love, Executive Director (205) 879-7096

Eagle Forum joins all Alabamians in offering our prayers and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the adorable five-year-old boy who authorities report died while in the care of an employee at Community Nursery and Preschool Academy in West Mobile.

The fact that the family has already filed a lawsuit indicates that current laws were not properly followed to ensure the child’s safety.  As stated in the Alabama Statute Title 38, “THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES SHALL, PRIOR TO THE DISBURSEMENT OF ANY SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE FUNDS, REQUIRE ALL EMPLOYEES AND APPLICANTS OF LEGALLY OPERATING CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO SUBMIT VERIFICATION OF THE APPLICATION FOR A CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECK AND THE RESULTS THEREOF WHEN OBTAINED.” (ALA.CODE 1975 § 38-13-3)
Minimal research reveals that the Community Nursery and Preschool Academy in West Mobile received federal subsidies, thus AL DHR had an affirmative duty to ensure background checks were conducted and received by DHR before they released funds. In addition to the state law, the Federal law requires these safety regulations to be followed. In 2013, the Inspector General clarified current Federal regulations to address states failing to oversee subsidized funds in licensed exempt facilities. “As written, the proposed regulations do not allow providers to self-certify compliance with health and safety requirements, and require States to take specific steps to monitor all CCDF providers.” https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-10-00231.pdf.  Additionally, in 2014, President Obama signed important legislation insuring accountability with federal funds, and all child care facilities receiving federal funds including licensed-exempt face additional inspections and requirements.
http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/11/some_church_child_care_centers.html.

Yet some irresponsible news outlets are accusing legislators who opposed a bill in the last legislative session of being responsible for this child’s death.  Rev. Robin Mears who helped in writing the Child Protection law in 1999 and is Executive Director of Alabama Christian Education Association stated, “IF the 2017 legislature had passed HB277, it would not have prevented this tragedy. WHY pass more laws if the agency entrusted to oversee the compliance with those laws is AWOL?” In addition to the background check requirement, Alabama law already requires staff qualifications to be provided to parents in a signed affidavit. This must be sent to DHR as well. There are other regulations including that multiple agencies are required to inspect all licensed exempt facilities. http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/Child_Care_Services/license%20Exempt%20Centers.aspx

At least twelve state agencies are already required to regulate every child care facility whether licensed or licensed (exempt). The four legislators cited by columnists as having been responsible for the defeat of HB277 acted in good faith, borne out of an honest political disagreement over both the effectiveness and appropriateness of certain facets of the bill.  There is no evidence to suggest that licenses ensure child safety.
Parents should not falsely rely on this as supporters of HB277 suggest. Examples of abuse have occurred in every child care environment in Alabama. Incidents of child abuse and neglect have even occurred at licensed facilities after complaints were filed with proper authorities.
http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/01/authorities_shut_down_homewood.html
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/12/former_hoover_day_care_work_wo.html

Eagle Forum of Alabama rejects the falsehood that child safety and religious liberty are mutually exclusive.  Eagle Forum of Alabama finds that current child safety laws are sufficient if they are enforced by the proper authorities.  Eagle Forum of Alabama’s analysis on HB277 was signed by twenty organizations, child care providers, and leaders including, The Blackstone & Burke Center For Law and Liberty and the South East Law Institute.

HB277 would not have improved child safety or prevented failed compliance by DHR with existing laws.  The statements recently made by some misinformed media sources are false and misleading.  Eagle Forum of Alabama and the legislators mentioned work every session to promote sound public policy solutions to pressing issues faced by Alabama families.  Several falsehoods have been repeated and spread in the media about licensed exempt facilities in Alabama.  Some such statements appear to have been borne out of prejudice against ministries which hold traditional values and religious beliefs. One major lie is that licensed exempt facilities are exempt from DHR regulation or state laws involving child safety including back ground checks. That is false. No one is legally allowed to harm children in Alabama regardless of the environment.  Again, it is up to state prosecutors and DHR to enforce our laws in the areas of child safety.

Rather than address the issue of DHR’s failure to ensure that federally subsidized facilities follow the law, proponents of HB277 advocate removal of religious liberty protection of all church ministries.  Some have disingenuously and deceitfully refused to recognize the facts in favor of unconstitutional church regulation.  The individuals who violated current state laws and the authorities who failed to enforce them are the individuals responsible for this tragic death. Clearly the individual who neglected or harmed the child should be held responsible.  The question remains, “Why is DHR not ensuring compliance with federal and state law?”

See our Get the Facts document here.

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.

Protect Vital Child Care Providers: STOP HB277

Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safest, and most positive child care options for children in Alabama.

If hard working Alabama parents no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children. HB277 will hurt poor families that depend on government subsidies to help pay for child care. An unintended consequence of HB277 will be that that many children in rural areas of the state will no longer have any positive child care options.

Eagle Forum of AL also needs to address an advertisement by the Voices organization
released earlier this week on Alabama Public  Radio. This commercial falsely claimed that half of the state’s child care facilities are completely unregulated and do not follow even basic safety standards.

Eagle Forum of Alabama along with many other policy organizations in Alabama researched these claims made by Voices. We found them to be untrue. There are at least eleven agencies that regulate all licensed exempt child care providers in Alabama.  Basic safety regulations are already required for all of these child care providers.  See “Get the Facts on HB277” analysis for more details.

We all believe in protecting children, but Eagle Forum of Alabama finds that this legislation is not properly focused on addressing the real problems at hand. We encourage you to oppose HB277 as more work needs to be done on this legislation.

Oppose HB277/SB236 State Overreach into Church Ministries

State Overreach Into AL Church Ministries:
Oppose HB277/SB236

On Thursday April 20, 2017, Representative Warren will offer her substitute version of HB277 – a version that we CANNOT support. The substitute does three things:

1.     Licenses all faith-based childcares that participate in the
government child subsidy program
2.     “Grandfathers” all current faith-based preschools (not childcare
centers) that does not participate in the child subsidy program
3.     Requires licensing of all future faith-based childcare programs

Eagle Forum of Alabama objects to the “grandfathering” provision; and narrowing the exemption
to “preschool.” THAT MAKE THIS SUBSTITUTE UNACCEPTABLE!

This new chart here analyzes the recent deception of HB277 supporters.

REMEMBER–Licensure is not synonymous with safety. Currently half of the states parents utilize licensed exempt (church ministry) child care providers over state licensed (controlled). HB277 advocates claim everyone must license but there has been NO evidence offered to support licenses protect children. HB277 is about state control of ministries of the church. This push is being promoted by the Federal government and out of state donors.

Get the Facts on HB277  then contact your Alabama legislators now let them know you oppose HB277 and any substitute. House Information:  (334) 242-7600  | Senate Information: (334) 242-7800.

 

Celebrate Church Day Care in Montgomery and Lobby against HB277 – DHR Control of Church Ministry

Celebrate Church Child Care Week and stand up for our children and religious liberty – this week at the Alabama State House in Montgomery –  Tuesday thru Thursday, April 11-13 beginning with a briefing at 10AM each morning in Room 325.  We must stop HB277.

  • HB277 is an unnecessary and unConstitutional overreach of government into church ministry.
  • It is a violation of the Alabama Religious Freedom Act and the Free Exercise Clause of the US Constitution.
  • It adds nothing to the health and safety of children already in day care run by legitimate churches.
  • The language in the bill could open control by the DHR of other church related ministries.

We have negotiated and presented ideas and language that should have satisfied the proponents of HB277, but they would not compromise in any form. This is about power and federal funding and not about Child Safety or otherwise they would have accepted at least a few of our recommended changes. See http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

We cannot over emphasize the importance of the presence of you and your family and friends at the State House this week at least one of the days mentioned; and if you can attend more days, great. We must show our legislators that we are against HB277.  Please give us an estimate of how many you estimate will be in your group.  We will have people at the State House to help direct everyone and will have handouts in Room 325 to give to the House members along with a brief orientation.

PLEASE email or call and tell your representative that you will be in Montgomery at the state house on one of these days and you want to visit with them.  For your House Member call 1-334-242-7600 and the receptionist will connect you to your representative; or for the Senate call
1-334-242-7800 and the receptionist will connect you to your senator.
If he/she is not available ask the secretary to give them a message that you will be traveling to Montgomery to see them for 5 minutes to discuss your opposition to HB277.

Bring as many as you can! Remember, there will be a brief orientation and training. Bring your business cards, daycare pamphlets, or church/ministry information to pass out.

For information on HB277 Gets the Facts here
http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

For Instructions for State House Lobbying, visit our website, here.

Topics

No one is exempt from children safety laws or regulations.
What is currently required of license exempt (church) facilities?
What are the thirteen agencies which regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?
Licensed care does not ensure safety
Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action
HB277 targets church facilities but exempts certain other child-care Follow the money Public policy should be based on facts, not stereotypes
Religious Liberty Violations:  First Amendment and Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, Section V Government overreach Removes parental authority and choice Truth about minimum standards Real Solutions

Signators

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty
Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association
Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention
Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute
Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama
Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing
Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church
Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member
Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church
Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm
James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church
Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy
Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy
Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy
Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education McCaney Law Group, LLC
Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy
Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy
Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama
Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

Get the Facts on HB277

Get the facts on HB277!  It is important for Alabamians to learn more about the significant role of religious and private child care providers in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church operated ministries to church members and outreaches to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families our choosing licensed exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed exempt and licensed by the state child care providers. Yet many decide to not attend licensed child care providers and purposely go to licensed exempt child care options. Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe, and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

No one is exempt from child safety laws or regulations 

  • Licensed exempt day care providers are not exempt from child safety laws and regulations. All child care providers in Alabama are either licensed exempt or licensed. To become licensed exempt the provider must file appropriate paperwork with DHR including immunization records.
  • Criminal behavior is already outlawed in the state of Alabama regardless of where the crime occurs whether in a private or public setting. There are many state laws which directly address child abuse and neglect. The appropriate state agencies already possess the authority to investigate and punish criminals
  • Just as public school employees those at licensed exempt child care facilities already must pass full criminal background checks. (AL Code 38-13-3)
  • In addition, the State of Alabama already places an affirmative duty on child care employees in private and public settings with the responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
  • Child care providers are regulated for health and safety standards by multiple state agencies already. License exemption for child care providers in Alabama does not mean they are exempt from child safety laws and regulations.

What is currently required of licensed exempt facilities?

 DHR provides a list of requirements that involves their agency here http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/Child_Care_Services/license%20Exempt%20Centers.aspx

  • Notice that the child care program is an integral part of a local church
  • Notice that intent to operate a child care program has been given to the appropriate health departments so that facilities will be inspected to meet standards
  • Inspection by fire department at least once a year
  • Inspection by the Alabama Department of Public Health at least twice a year
  • Notice to the department certifying health inspection reports, immunizations, and medical forms for all staff and children.
  • Notice to parents of staff qualifications, pupil-student ratio, discipline policies, type of curriculum, religious teachings, and type of lunch program.
  • Parents required to sign affidavits about licensed-exempt status
  • Church/facility must submit affidavits of notification to DHR
  • Must follow all state and federal laws

What are the thirteen agencies who currently regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?

  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama and Local Health Department
  • State Fire Marshall
  • State Building Commission
  • Alabama Department of Revenue
  • Alabama Department of Labor
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Federal Transportation Administration
  • Local Codes (zoning, safety requirements)
  • Safe States (enforce asbestos laws)
  • County District Attorney
  • The Alabama Code governing numerous aspects of caring for children

Licensed care does not ensure safety

DHR and other state agencies have failed on many occasions to follow through on inspections to facilities. In 2014 changes to block grants from the Federal Government required DHR to inspect facilities receiving grants whether or not they are license exempt.  Those inspections were not always completed.  Regulations and license requirements have failed on many occasions to protect children.

  • There is no evidence that licensed day care facilities are safer than license exempt facilities. We can all cherry pick examples in either public or private settings, but there is no factual evidence that licensed facilities are safer than non-licensed facilities.

Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action

As a matter of fact, every claim of injury to children upon which HB277 proponents rely are as a result of the violation of health standards already required of licensed exempt facilities.  If DHR and the responsible health departments had done their jobs, those events would not have happened. But more to the point, DHR regulation would not have prevented them. However, it certainly makes for good, if not misleading, selling points to uninformed observers.

Sunny Side Day Care– Sunny Side Day Care was highlighted as a key example of a licensed exempt center for a staph infection outbreak that happened at that location. Sunny Side Day Care receives funding from the Federal Government. That means state agencies already have more ability and responsibility to regulate that facility. However, on many occasions DHR has failed to inspect some facilities as they did in regards to Sunny Side. In regards to food safety all child care facilities must meet be food safety, standards already. All the reasonable measure are already in place to address this problem.  There was no clear testimony provided that regulations or licenses would have prevented the staph incident. This memorandum from the Office of Inspector General about license exempt facilities examines the legal authority. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-10-00231.pdf

  • There is no guarantee that regulations or licenses will prevent all health incidents but one thing is clear: Alabama DHR had the ability to inspect Sunny Side Day Care facility prior to the staph incident. Licenses and regulations do not ensure a child’s safety.

HB277 exempts certain child- care facilities but targets religious facilities

Do supporters of HB277 think that licenses and the regulations associated with this bill protect children?  Why then are shopping center day cares exempt on page 6 of HB277 Why would public controlled facilities be exempt from this regulation? The potential for safety concerns for children is the same in these locations as others.

Follow the money

The free market allows parents to decide for themselves in what type of educational environment or child care facility they would like to place their child. Most parents like options because it produces the best choices for their children. However some groups and individuals are resorting to scare tactics to push economic protectionism against religious affiliated facilities. In the last several years more families have been moving away from licensed facilities and towards licensed-exempt facilities. That concerns some who benefit economically from licensed centers.

  • In addition to the economic protectionism aspects of HB277, the Federal involvement and out of state donations to lobbying organizations have thrown big money to groups and agencies to push for licensure mandates. As the fiscal note for the HB277 shows the financial support for this regulation comes from the Federal government http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2017RS/FiscalNotes/FN-36426.htm. Another source of funding for this lobbying push comes from Kellogg Foundation a national out of state organization.

Public policy should be based on facts not stereotypes

Religious and secular child care providers both care about protecting children and helping families. That is why they do what they do.  There have been many innuendos and false claims made about religious institutions in Alabama.

  • The vast majority of Alabama’s religious institutions and religiously affiliated providers do wonderful work for Alabama’s families. Just as we do not judge every public school teacher by the actions of a small percentage of teachers we should apply that same respect for private and religious institutions.
  • We punish the individual not an entire religious community or group. We do not judge every private child care institution by select bad actors. That promotes fear and prejudice between Alabama’s religious populations, the general public and state agencies. Solid public policy proposals will not result from fear tactics and prejudice.

Religious Liberty Violations

“A child care facility that is an integral part of a church or nonprofit religious school shall be licensed…” (pg. 27 of HB277)  HB277 removes important religious liberty protections that ensure Alabama’s diverse religious population has freedom to exercise their religious beliefs in regards to early childhood development without government intrusion and control. “Also under existing law, child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school are exempt from licensing by the Department of Human Resources.” (pg. 1 of HB277) Alabama’s diverse religious communities have for generations worked to protect children, start hospitals, adoption agencies, founded schools, and ministries for the poor.

Separation of church and state means that the state does not control the church or any religious institutions. If the church must receive a license from the state in order to operate a ministry that violates the religious liberty protections Alabamians have been provided in the state and Federal Constitution.  Protecting children and religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact parents and the Alabama Constitution expect them to be mutually inclusive. The Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment provides for what is called the “compelling interest test.” Government may not burden or restrict a religious activity or belief without first having a compelling interest to do so in the least burdensome or restrictive way. HB277 is unconstitutional and will likely face class action suit by Alabama religious institutions. It will very likely be struck down.

  • First Amendment United States Constitution applicable to Alabama

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, section V

Section V. (a) Government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:

(1) Is in furtherance of a compelling government interest; and

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.

(c) A person whose religious freedom has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.

Government overreach

Hundreds of licensed exempt facilities will close due to HB277 unnecessary regulatory overreach. HB277 oversteps and violates what the proper role of government is in Alabama.  The government has an interest in protecting safety of all Alabamians but that does not mean the government should control private religious institutions. Reasonable regulations and criminal laws already punish bad actors. State agencies already retain the ability to regulate and inspect in needed situations.  Demanding licenses and the regulatory power that comes with licenses will not improve children’s safety. Instead, a license requirement will mean more state control over private and religious institutions. If the church was must come to the state to request to operate then the church is not free from state intrusion. In addition to day cares HB277 will regulate mother’s day out, volunteers, day nurseries, and play groups.

Removes Parental Authority and choice

Currently there are more positive child care options and choices in early childhood service providers in the state of Alabama. Once HB277 passes that will no longer be the case. If you dislike one provider, you have options outside of state regulated facilities or facilities who accept grants. Families who rely on grants also have options currently. However, HB277 will remove this option for parents.  It will require every child care provider to follow the same regimen, and it will give state agencies control of these institutions.

Truth about minimum standards

Many private and religious child care providers in Alabama already go above and beyond minimum standards by DHR.  HB277 would require every day care facility to follow the list of regulations called minimum standards. Child neglect, abuse, health, and safety regulations and law exist and are already in place outside of minimum standards. Many religious institutions or private facilities reject DHR minimum standards.  These regulations have many aspects that are not directly related to child’s safety but they are instead more focused toward the facility.

DHR would have the full authority to deny licensing, employment, and ability to volunteer based on individual receiving speeding tickets, or criminal charges even when found innocent.

DHR would have the authority to consider a center’s beliefs unsuitable for licensing, employment and the ability to volunteer.

DHR can immediately terminate license, employment and the ability to volunteer for being viewed as unsuitable with no proof of wrongdoing. It gives them unintended control due to the subjectivity of determining who or what is “unsuitable”.

DHR can close a center for what they “think” is a lack of business funds.

DHR holds the approval to whether or not a Center Director can be hired.

DHR requirements for certain number of staff per child.

Real Solutions

Rather than address the issue of a few “for profit” daycares masquerading as churches, proponents of HB277 want to remove the protection of all churches. The good faith offer of actual redress of the real problem has been disingenuously and deceitfully rejected by supporters of HB277 in favor of unconstitutional church regulation. Using child protection as an excuse, their real goal is church regulation of this very important church ministry, the choice of parents to raise up their children in the way they should go. 

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty

Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association

Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute

Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama

Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing

Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church

Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member

Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church

Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm

James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church

Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy

Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy

Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy

Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education

Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention

McCaney Law Group, LLC

Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy

Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy

Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama

Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

Alert on HB277

We need your help protecting Alabama’s families from government overreach today!  Religious and private child care providers play an important role in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church-operated ministries to church members and to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed-exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license-exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed-exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families are choosing licensed-exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed-exempt and licensed by the state child care providers, but HB277 removes that choice.  Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license-exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, children are harmed.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

Communicate your opposition to HB277

There is a lot of misinformation on religious child care providers that has been pushed by out of state forces. Get the Facts here to address some of the false statements that have been pushed on the legislators. They need to hear from you about this church regulation bill. Call, e-mail and communicate on social media to your State Representative that you oppose HB277 now.  The main number for the House of Representatives is 334-242-7600.

Let them know that not only does it violates the Alabama Constitution, but it also harms Alabama’s children by removing positive options for them.  There are a number of Republican legislators who currently support this legislation because they have not heard from their constituents, nor have they been provided with all of the facts about the bill. Many leaders throughout Alabama are stepping up to oppose this state overreach. You can help by contacting your pastor, community leaders in your area of the state or the administrator of your child’s private or religious school. Let them know you would like for them to support the Get the Facts statement on HB277.

HB277 / SB256 Must be Stopped!

SB236/HB277 – Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward and Representative Pebblin Warren, proposes to require church nurseries and religious childcare providers (daycares) to be licensed by the state Department of Human Resources as are all other such providers. Church daycares and nurseries have always been exempt from licensure, even though their workers must pass background checks. The First Amendment should send a bold statement to state legislators about the proper role of state and federal government. Their role IS NOT to regulate churches or their ministries. This House bill passed unanimously by voice vote in the Child and Senior Advocacy Committee.  Eagle Forum of Alabama strongly opposes SB236/HB277. This bill will allow the state to regulate Vacation Bible School, for example. It removes important religious liberty protections that currently protect Alabamians. This bill is about much more than simply licensing church daycares and nurseries, it is also about money.  Foundation grant money has been awarded here in Alabama to push for all Alabama daycares to be licensed.  The Alabama DHR was awarded $1.7 million to improve the quality of daycare in the state.  Their only answer to that is to license daycares in church which are now exempt, although such centers are statistically safer for children by far than licensed centers. Those involved in negotiating for changes to the bill have offered 5 changes that would deal with the issues brought up by proponents for all child care facilities but these were totally dismissed, giving credence to the fact that this is not about protecting children, but about money and control.

Dollars are flowing from the federal government in support of licensed daycare facilities. The more that are licensed, the more money. With federal dollars come federal control.  The bill says that in licensed church daycare facilities “no employee of the department (DHR) may infringe upon the ability of the center to teach or practice a religion.”  However, these words would not control mandates from the federal government, such as those on the state Pre-K program that say, “no part of the day may be religious in nature.”  If religious day care programs are required to be licensed, it is safe to assume that such mandates would follow.

Please contact your Representatives and Senators today as well as Senator Ward  and Rep. Warren immediately to let them know that you strongly oppose this bill. His email address is [email protected], and office number is 334-242-7873. Representative Pebblin Warren’s email address is [email protected] . Her office number is 334-242-7734

Talking Points for SB236/HB277

  • Background check requirements already in place
  • Child abuse and neglect already outlawed in AL
  • This bill is about regulation and money, it is not about child safety