Build Back Better Becomes More Inclusive in Faith-Based Child Care


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A Senate committee removed some of the controversial language from the Build Back Better bill that would restrict funding and assistance to faith-based child care and preschool programs unless they adhere to federal anti -discrimination.

The federal bill had raised concern among several faith groups who said the bill would bar faith groups from obtaining federal aid because of their religious views.

According to a report By the Washington, DC-based Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), released Monday, two developments emerged regarding the legislation.

On December 11, according to IRFA, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a revised text that removed “proposed non-discrimination requirements that would have prohibited religious hiring and religiously selective admissions to child care and pre-kindergarten programs ”.

“Child care certificates are confirmed to be ‘indirect’ government funding that allows child care providers to include religious education and activities. However, religion continues to be banned from the pre-K program, which is a grant-funded program, ”the Alliance explained.

“The language of the two programs underscores the many legal obligations of participating programs without clearly emphasizing protections for faith-based organizations and small organizations that will allow a wide range of them to know that they are welcome in these programs.

IRFA noted that while they approve of the changes made to better include religious groups, they still maintain some concerns about the proposed legislation as drafted.

Defended by the Biden administration, the Build Back Better Act is a major bill that creates programs and establishes funding for a host of issues, including education, child care, taxes and immigration.

On December 1, an interfaith coalition sent a letter in Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., And Richard Burr, RN.C., respectively chairman and senior member of the Senate HELP committee, expressing concerns about the impact of Bill BBB on their child care and d ‘education.

According to the letter, “the current child care and universal preschool (PUK) provisions of the Build Back Better Act will remove or even exclude the participation of many faith-based providers; and faith-based providers are what more than half of American families choose for child care.

“Although the language of the BBBA does not preclude parents from choosing sectarian providers, subsequent provisions in the text of the bill make it virtually impossible for many religious providers to participate,” the letter said.

According to faith groups, the bill would define “all recipients as recipients of federal financial assistance, whether the funds come from certificates (in the child care program) or direct grants (in the preschool program) “, Which would trigger” federal compliance obligations and non-discrimination provisions.

Additionally, according to the letter, BBB would apply “non-discrimination requirements to both childcare sections and pre-K universal sections which are generally unrelated to FFA.”

Signatories to the letter included Catholic Charities USA, two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Freedom Commission. Convention, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the Council of Islamic Schools of North America, among others.

Although the bill has passed the House, it is stuck in the Senate, in part because Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., expressed his opposition to that.

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