AL--Victims urge lawmakers to fix religious day care loopholes
For immediate release: Thursday, April 14, 2016
A new investigation shows that religiously-affiliated day care centers can be especially dangerous for children and that Alabama is one of the worst states regulating them. We urge Alabama legislators to put kids first and remedy this irresponsible imbalance immediately.
Alabama is one of six states that provide little or no restrictions or oversight for such centers (along with Indiana, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia). About half of Alabama’s day care centers take advantage of the “religious exemption” that puts kids at risk.
The investigation also found:
-- “Many faith-based day cares in Alabama, Indiana and Missouri don’t have to meet any required staff-to-child ratios, for instance.
--“Religious day cares in Alabama, Indiana and Missouri also require little to no child safety training for their workers, leading to dozens of serious injuries.”
We urge lawmakers to toughen laws so that kids are safer in every day care facility. The religious beliefs of adults cannot trump the physical safety of children. Adults can believe whatever they like but cannot do whatever they like, especially when the well-being of innocent kids is at stake.
We urge parents to think long and hard, and do considerable research, before putting kids in religiously-affiliated day care programs, especially in the 16 states with safety exemptions for such programs and the states with little or no restrictions or oversight: Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
We urge religious figures to voluntarily comply with or exceed state safety standards for secular day cares and prod other religious institutions to do likewise.
And we urge police, prosecutors, judges to do all they can to deter church employees from endanger kids by exploiting religious exemptions for their own financial benefit by aggressively investigating, charging, convicting and punishing wrongdoers.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child abuse, neglect, sex crimes and cover ups in day care centers – especially at religious ones – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists and regulators, get justice by calling attorneys, get comfort by calling support groups like ours and push for long-term change and protection by prodding lawmakers. This is how kids will be safer, devastated families will recover, the criminal and the negligent will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Religious day cares get freedom from oversight, with tragic results
By Amy Julia Harris / April 12, 2016
The God Loophole: Thousands of religious day cares across America legally are allowed to run their facilities with little government oversight. But freedom from regulation can come at a high price for children. And when things go wrong, parents have little recourse.
Like many parents, when Juan Cardenas began looking for a day care for his 1-year-old son, Carlos, he relied on word-of-mouth. A friend recommended Praise Fellowship Assembly of God in Indianapolis.
Cardenas never had planned to put his baby . . .
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.