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Legislators Seek Tougher Standards For Day Care Centers

Last updated on Thursday, January 16, 2014

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Legislators are trying to satisfy objections from church-run child care ministries to a proposed toughening of health and safety standards.

Legislators voted last year to require smoke detectors and hot and cold running water in all child-care centers. Representative Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) says the minimal scope of that bill is "an embarrassment." He's introduced a bill to expand the law, with minimum requirements for room size, the number of adults present, nutrition, and sanitation.

The regulations would only apply to centers which receive government money through the Child Care Development Fund.

Church day cares are exempt from licensing requirements but do have to meet health and safety regulations. The Indiana Catholic Conference and the Registered Ministry Advisory Council both support the changes. But other church child-care ministries and the conservative group Advance America charge the law is too vague, and could open the door for state officials to shut down a church ministry, a step they say would shatter the barrier between church and state.

Mahan says that's a mischaracterization of the bill. But he put off seeking a committee vote until next week, to give a newly assembled subcommittee time to try to hammer out acceptable wording.

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