Indiana House backs bill for tougher day care rules

WTHR file photo of a day care
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Church and home day cares in Indiana that accept taxpayer funding would have to meet new safety regulations under a proposal advancing in the state Legislature.

The Indiana House voted 71-24 on Wednesday to approve the bill covering unlicensed day care providers. Its provisions would limit the number of children per caregiver and at each operation.

The Indianapolis Star reports its investigation last year found at least 22 children have died in Indiana day cares since 2009, with 16 of those deaths in unlicensed day cares.

Bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Mahan of Hartford City says the new rules would better protect children.

The bill now goes to the Senate. Similar legislative proposals have failed before, with opponents saying the regulations would infringe on the religious freedom of church ministries.

The call for more day care regulation grew in 2012 after the death of a young boy at a church day care. Juan Carlos Cardenas wandered off alone and drowned in a baptismal pool at the Praise Fellowship Assembly of God in February 2012. A proseuctor found no evidence of neglect and no criminal charges were filed, although the family did file a wrongful death lawsuit. They also filed a suit against Indiana's Family and Social Services Agency, alleging that the FSSA failed to inspect the facility properly.

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