Day care amendment voted down in Senate

Juan Cardenas drowned at this day care last week.
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As his family makes arrangements to bury one-year-old Juan Carlos Cardenas this weekend, Indiana lawmakers are trying to make sure no other family suffers a similar loss. Juan drowned in a baptismal pool at his church-run day care last week.

All day care centers are inspected by the state, but the majority of day care ministries fall under different guidelines than non-religious centers. State inspectors only have the authority to enforce basic health, safety and sanitation regulations.

The debate over differing day care standards is not new, but the difference in this case was that an amendment to change that law was filed three days before the toddler's death.

Only five days have passed since the boy drowned in a baptismal pool at Praise Fellowship Assembly of God day care in Indianapolis. That was three days after State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) filed his amendment in the state legislature to hold church run day cares to the same standards on training standards, building safety and staff to student ratios as state licensed facilities.

"My amendment is clear. It will...make sure that all Hoosier children have the ability to go to a day care that is gonna be regulated in a manner that doesn't allow a toddler to end up drowning in two feet of water," said Taylor.

"Maybe the time has come for us to get serious about this issue that we take care of what I call the least of these," said Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle).

Sen. Holdman had a similar bill fail to even get a vote last year.

"If that bill had passed this tragedy we now know of with this one-year-old child could have been prevented," said Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville).

But the legislature is a deliberative body that struggled in this case with lack of committee and public hearings.

"If we do it here today with all these restrictions in here we will find out we may have missed the mark," said Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville). "Not only too hasty but probably put people out of business immediately by passing this."

That point was not lost on Micah Clark who works for the American Family Association of Indiana.

"For years this has been a running battle which many see as the camel's nose under the tent. I just think we need to be careful in the face of tragedy to not look to the government to fix everything. Accidents happen and it's unfortunate but I am not sure regulating church day care providers one day would fix anything," said Clark.

The Senate agreed, voting down the amendment 30-19.