Leaving your child in the care of a stranger is unnerving, to say the least. So choosing a daycare facility or program is something that good parents take seriously. But with even the most reputable providers, there remains much risk for daycare injuries, Houston's injury attorneys, Grossman Law Firm say.
Though Texas is recognized as one of the states with the highest daycare standards and regulations, laws governing daycare centers, and particularly home-based daycares, are notoriously lax across the United States. One troubling example is that here in Texas, one needs only a high school degree or equivalent to operate a home day care. Daycare operators and workers are required to attend a state-sanctioned education session. But that's where the training requirements stop – at simply attending. In one notorious case, a home-based daycare owner ‘s home caught fire while she allegedly had left to shop at a nearby Target. Four children died as a result. When interviewed as part of the ensuing investigation, the trainer reported that the woman had wandered in and out of the classroom, put her head down on the table and spent much of the classtime texting on her phone. But because law requires applicants to simply attend the session, she had satisfied the requirement.
Texas regulations also mandate that children not be supervised by anyone with a known history of criminal activity, abuse or neglect. However, in an industry with a persistently high turnover rate, it's not at all uncommon for many smaller and home-based daycare providers to quietly skip that requirement, knowing that state inspections typically are done only ones per year or every two years. Also, sealed or expunged juvenile records may not show up, even on background checks performed by state workers for daycare license applicants.
Consider that each day upwards of 8.2 million America's children – including 40 percent of the nation's children under age five – spend at least part of their week in the care of someone other than a parent, most of them in daycare centers. Then, consider findings in a 2007 survey by the National Institute of Child Health Development, which rated the majority of America's licensed daycare provider operations as “fair” or “poor.” Just 10 percent were deemed to provide high-quality care. Clearly, there is much room for improvement in America's daycare centers, including those here in Texas.
When choosing a daycare facility for your child, be sure to confirm licensure with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Visit the center to meet with the facility's owners, managers and workers, and unannounced. While there, pay attention to details including cleanliness, the child-to-caregiver ratio, the presence of required safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, and the general well-being and demeanor of the children.