It's almost back-to-school time. This is also a time when a lot of parents are hunting for day care.
If you're one of those parents, the Child Care Licensing Division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services urges you to do your homework and always choose regulated day care.
At first glance, unregulated or illegal day care might seem like a good deal - but without any oversight there are no checks and balances to protect your kids.
You can find a state-regulated day care in your area and review its record by using the TxChildCareSearch.org database on the DFPS website. You can also learn more about choosing child care here, where you will find a downloadable tip card and brochure.
If you're looking for day care, remember to look, learn, visit, and meet:
• Look for features that will help your child thrive. Consider the caregiver's education, experience, and training, as well as the size of the group and setting.
• Learn about licensed and registered child care at DontBeInTheDark.org and TxChildCareSearch.org. You can explore day care options - searching by ZIP code, city, or county and read the history of the day care's inspection records.
• Visit the day care you are considering while children are there so that you can see activities, how caregivers interact with children, and how the children like it there.
• Meet the caregiver or director. Discuss any concerns and make sure you are satisfied with their answers. Make a surprise visit later for a second look.
All regulated day care staff must undergo background checks but regulation and state oversight increase with the size of the day care.
1. Listed homes (1-3 unrelated children) must apply and pass background checks but are not inspected regularly.
2. Registered homes (maximum of 12 children at any time) must meet training requirements and pass background checks, and are inspected every 2 years.
3. Larger licensed homes and day care centers must meet health and safety requirements, get regular training, and are inspected every 5-12 months.
Texas Child Care Facts*