UPDATE: House committee approves day care regulation bill

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- UPDATE:

A House of Representatives committee has approved a compromise proposal to give the state limited oversight over faith-based day cares.

The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee unanimously approved the bill Tuesday.

An advocacy group, VOICES for Alabama's Children, says Alabama is one of seven states that broadly exempt faith-based day cares from regulation. Nearly half of the 1,914 day cares in the state claim the religious exemption.

Under the compromise bill, the centers would remain exempt from getting a license, but the state would be able to inspect the centers once yearly. They would also have to submit names of workers and their criminal histories.

Rep. Pebblin Warren, the bill's sponsor, said many exempt centers aren't part of actual churches, but claim a religious affiliation to escape regulation.

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Alabama lawmakers are holding a public hearing on legislation that would allow the state to inspect church-affiliated day cares.

The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee on Tuesday will discuss the proposal to allow the inspections at least once yearly. The centers would also have to submit insurance proof and the names of workers and their criminal histories

Alabama for years has exempted faith-based facilities from licensure and regulations such as maximum child-to-worker ratios. Nearly half of the 1,914 day cares in the state claim the religious exemption.

Exempt centers have come under increasing scrutiny after recent incidents.

A 5-year-old in Mobile died last year after being left inside a van. Eighty-six children were sickened in 2015 at a Montgomery facility after eating food that had been left out overnight.