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Amendment stops federal funds to child care centers with health or safety violations

Kamden Johnson died this August after being left in a hot daycare van at a preschool he was attending in Mobile, Alabama. Due to a state exemption for religious affiliated day care centers, Kamden’s daycare center was not subject to state oversight or inspections.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment by Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) prohibiting federal grant funding from going to child care centers with a record of injury or death due to health or safety violations. The amendment’s adoption follows the death of five-year-old Kamden Johnson at an Alabama day care center. Rep. Sewell’s amendment was attached to a package of appropriations bills expected to pass the House this week.

“My amendment is a commonsense fix following a tragedy that we cannot allow to happen again,” said Rep. Sewell. “Kamden Johnson’s death this August was not the first child death at an unregulated day care center in Alabama, and it will not be the last so long as we continue to fund centers that violate health and safety standards. It is our responsibility to ensure that federal resources are directed to accountable centers that care for our children’s health and safety, especially as safe child care centers like Head Start struggle to receive the funding they need. I was happy to see my amendment pass tonight with bipartisan support, and I look forward to continuing work with my colleagues in Congress to improve safety at child care centers across the country. For our children, for parents, and for kids like Kamden, we can and must do better.”

Kamden Johnson died this August after being left in a hot daycare van at a preschool he was attending in Mobile, Alabama. Due to a state exemption for religious affiliated day care centers, Kamden’s daycare center was not subject to state oversight or inspections. The driver who was responsible for Kamden when he died had an extensive criminal record.

As of 2016, there were 943 day care centers in Alabama exempt from basic licensing standards. Over 30 Alabama legislators have come together to support a bipartisan bill extending licensing requirements to facilities currently exempt from oversight.

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