Alabama House delays action on bill which could require licensing of church day care centers

Christian conservatives have been getting ready to fight against a bill which could require church-based day care centers to secure licenses, but the Alabama House of Representatives has delayed action on the matter to pave the way for more negotiations.

(REUTERS / Jim Young)The Edmund Pettus Bridge is seen in Selma, Alabama, January 8, 2015.

Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee), who sponsored the bill on the House, explained that child care centers must have oversight for children's protection. Church-based centers are currently not required to secure licenses from the Alabama Department of Human Resources under state law, but Warren's bill will change that, AL.com details.

Before the House could vote on the measure, Warren temporarily withdrew the bill to allow for more negotiations.

"There has to be some type of oversight," Warren explained. "Whether it's a license, or whether it's an inspection. There has to be oversight on all of our day cares."

"This is not about churches. This is not even about religion," Warren added, according to the AL.com report. "This is about babies, who can't speak for themselves."

Warren acknowledged that there are church-based day care centers that provide excellent service. However, she said there are also others with poor service that do not have to procure licenses because Alabama does not have strict rules for getting religious exemption. Nevertheless, she is confident that the bill will be passed soon.

Speaking to the ABC 33/40, Julie Wilson, the director of the First Baptist Church Child Development Program in Tuscaloosa, said the measure could result in a lack of places for preschoolers to go to if church-based centers are shut down. As of now, her program has 235 students and over 200 more on a waiting list.

Wilson, who is against the licensing of church-based day care centers, has expressed confidence in First Baptist's ability to comply with state requirements. However, she said there are other churches that will not willingly do that and will only be forced to shut down their preschools.