Although many Houston parents rely on daycare providers to nurture and care for their children while they work or attend school, many childcare operations are unsafe and even dangerous.
According to a 2018 investigation of Texas child care centers conducted by the Austin American-Statesman, more than 3,200 childcare facilities were cited for abusing and neglecting the children in their care over the prior decade. During that same period, another 450 children had been sexually abused while in daycare, and 88 children were killed, 42 while being cared for at illegal daycare sites.
Hundreds of thousands of parents send their children to daycare each day, often selecting a provider based on location, affordability, and convenience. However, when choosing a daycare for their children, parents should also look for evidence that health and safety are a priority for the daycare. Part of this process includes familiarizing themselves with the state’s rules and regulations that daycare providers must follow and the training they should have.
Texas Child Care Regulation
Child Care Regulation (CCR) is a statewide Texas program that regulates childcare operations and child placement agencies by inspecting and investigating operations to ensure they meet the state’s standards. CCR inspection reports are available online to assist parents in making informed childcare decisions.
There are two Child Care Regulation programs in Texas:
- Child Day Care, which issues permits and monitors center-based and in-home programs caring for children 13 years old or younger for less than 24 hours a day while parents or guardians work or attend school, and
- 24-Hour Residential Child Care, which issues permits and monitors operations and child placement agencies that provide 24-hour care for children 17 years old or younger whose parents or guardians are unable to care for them (temporarily or permanently).
CCR routinely inspects licensed and registered programs for compliance with minimum standards, rules, and laws. If a violation is found, CCR issues a deficiency, notifies the operation in writing, and posts the deficiency online. In addition to these routine inspections, CCR also investigates reports and complaints of potential violations, including those calling attention to unregulated or illegal operations that might be providing childcare without a permit.
How to make sure your child’s daycare is safe
Here are some steps parents can take to ensure that their children’s potential or current daycare program is safe:
- Weigh your options. There are many types of childcare to choose from in Texas, and it is critical that you find a provider who fits the needs of your children and your family. Ensure that the program is licensed. Under Texas law, every daycare facility must be licensed if care is provided for four or more children at one time. Although licensing does not guarantee quality, it sets minimum requirements for providers and ensures that programs are continually scrutinized for compliance. In Texas, local Child Care Licensing offices inspect a daycare’s operations before licensing and complete at least one on-site inspection to evaluate the program’s ongoing compliance with minimum standards. They also ensure that employees have cleared background checks and received all required training. Topics covered under basic licensing requirements include building safety, the number of children and providers on-site, and staff qualifications.
- Do your research. Parents should consider researching any daycare for previous incidents and violations before they enroll their children there. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provides a searchable website listing every licensed daycare in the state. This website provides the minimum standards for licensure and details the history of inspections and violations for each facility. Researching the daycare’s previous violation history can provide parents with valuable information to help choose the right daycare to keep their children safe.
- Look for transparency. When assessing a daycare facility, inquire whether the center allows impromptu drop-in visits from parents or offers livestream video access – secured with a password only provided to parents – that will enable them to check in on their children at all hours of the day. This level of transparency provides parents with peace of mind regarding their children’s care and also makes daycare staff accountable since someone could be watching them at any time.
- Watch for warning signs. Although most daycare providers operate safely, parents should watch for subtle warning signs of abuse and neglect, such as unexplained injuries, behavioral irregularities, uncharacteristic bedwetting, and loss of appetite. To protect your children from daycare abuse and neglect, you should educate them on appropriate and inappropriate touching and behavior and communicate regularly with them about what happens at daycare. Tell them they’ll never get in trouble for anything they tell you.
Can I hold a Houston daycare provider responsible for my child’s injury?
When parents entrust the care of their children to a daycare provider, they have a right to expect that their child will not be harmed. However, when a child is hurt in a childcare setting, their parents or guardians can pursue justice and monetary compensation through the Texas civil court system, where daycare operations can be held accountable under several legal doctrines, including:
- Negligent supervision of children – a daycare facility breaches its duty to properly supervise the children in its care.
- Negligent hiring, training, and supervision of staff – a childcare operation fails to conduct background checks or adequately train and supervise its staff, and a child is injured as a result.
- Negligence per se – acts by a daycare center that are inherently negligent because they violate a specific requirement, law, or regulation.
At The Kishinevsky Law Firm, we understand the sensitive nature of child injury claims. Our Houston attorneys work hard to determine the cause and severity of your child’s injuries and who should be held accountable. We know how to build a strong case against a negligent daycare center or childcare provider and will advocate for your entire family during this difficult time. Call us at 832-529-1111 or fill out our contact form to arrange a free initial consultation today – we want to help.
Houston personal injury lawyer Rashmi Parthasarathi represents clients in personal injury claims and has spent several years representing clients in product liability cases who were injured by pharmaceutical and medical device companies who put profits before safety of their products. In January 2020, Rashmi Parthasarathi joined the Kishinevsky Law Firm where she continues working to help clients harmed by the wrongful acts of others to obtain justice, especially individuals being taken advantage of by insurance companies and other large corporations.