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Indiana Senate approves loosened regulations for unlicensed child care homes

Greg Walker speaks on the Senate floor. Walker is a White man, balding with some gray hair on the sides, wearing glasses and a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus) spoke on the Senate floor on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 about HB 1102, which he sponsored. "If I felt there was anything in this bill that would put any child in danger, I would not put my name on this bill," Walker said.

Regulations of home-based child care will be loosened by legislation approved by the Indiana Senate Monday.

HB 1102 increases the number of children allowed in child care homes from five to seven — which doesn’t include any children in the home who are relatives of the owner. It also allows those homes to care for kids longer, from four to six hours a day.

Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus), the measure’s sponsor, said parents and families need more child care options and the bill aims to provide them.

“Making sure that home care providers have the ability to get the costs down and work with families to provide additional capacity without being regulated out of business,” Walker said.

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Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) said increasing the number of children who can be in those unlicensed homes goes beyond the levels national experts recommend.

“Making child care more accessible at the risk of child safety is something that I absolutely cannot support,” Ford said.

The Senate passed the bill along party lines. It now heads back to the House, which can vote to send it to the governor or take it to conference committee for further work.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.