There are more than 25,000 daycare operations and homes in the state of Texas. And as the school year looms, parents have to choose among them to find safe child care that's a good fit for their family's needs. But a warning from the state: be careful when choosing; 524 Texas operations have been found guilty of abuse or neglect.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services *(DFPS) warns that the cheapest child care may not be the safest.
"They're probably charging less but they're not being regulated. And that's where the problem is," DFPS spokesperson Julie Moody told KUT News.
Moody said you can't always trust people running unregulated day care services out of their homes. If a day care provider is unregulated, the babysitters or the people they live with have not submitted to background checks or received state-recommended training.
Also, Moody said, their homes may not have been inspected for minimum safety standards, such as working fire alarms.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has two websites to help parents searching for good childcare:
The Texas Child Care Search allows parents to look for regulated centers in their area by zip code, city or county. It also has a compliance history of all regulated centers so parents can verify that their center has a good record.
Don't Be In the Dark emphasizes the importance of choosing a regulated child care provider and answers frequently asked questions about day cares in Texas.
Moody also urged unregulated providers to become regulated. She said that DFPS is not a law enforcement agency so providers who had been operating without regulation will not be penalized. But they will need to get training and submit to inspections.=