Parent’s Resource

Want to know more about the safety of your child’s day care? We gathered records to help.

Type in your day care name to find any records of injuries, abuse and prohibited punishments.

You can also download a checklist of questions for your day care here. D

Injury records

4,822 total records, Oct. 2016- July 2018

Abuse records

3,217 total records, Jan. 2007 - Dec. 2017

Prohibited punishment records

812 total records, Feb. 2016 - Jan. 2018

Sources: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Download the data.

When it comes to choosing a child care facility, many parents focus on the basics: price, location, convenience. But there are other factors that go into selecting the best place to send your child. Here are some tips on how to assess operations — as well as some red flags to watch out for — when looking for child care.

How to choose a good day care center

Check the state website for violations: Almost all child care facilities have violations of some sort. In Texas, the average center has about nine at any given time. But the number isn’t as important as the types of violations. Serious violations, such as prohibited punishments or failure to do background checks, should raise red flags. Lesser infractions, like not having a complete first aid kit, may be viewed with less worry.

Observe the classroom: Is the teacher interacting with the children? Does there appear to be enough staff? What are the children doing? What kind of demeanor does the teacher have? Are they making eye contact with the child, seeming to enjoy the children? If a center balks at a visit, consider it a red flag.

Ask questions: How long has the place been open? What kind of experience does the director have? How long have the teachers been there? What kind of training do employees get? Can they accommodate special needs children?

Check accreditations: Some day care facilities that participate in the federal child care subsidies program go beyond the state-mandated rules for children and obtain Texas Rising Star certification, a quality rating system for child cares that voluntarily exceed state requirements in areas such as employee training, activities and curriculum. Others obtain accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is considered an even higher standard. It involves a multiyear process that evaluates curriculum, policies, procedures, safety, community involvement, finances and teacher-child relationships.

Ask if the facility has cameras: Cameras are a controversial topic among child care operations. Some providers find them too invasive. Others see them as a way to offer parents comfort and to protect the child care operator from false allegations. Consider how you feel about them and go from there.

Review the policies: Discipline, security, privacy, expulsion, nutrition and sick policies are among the things you want to know about.

Go with your gut: There’s something to be said for just trusting your impressions and feelings about a child care facility. If something feels off, even if you can’t pinpoint what, it might be best to look for alternatives.

Red flags

Numerous safety violations: There are hundreds of state rules guiding the way child care operations are supposed to be run. When child care facilities fail to meet them, they are cited for violations. The state weighs those violations, giving parents a sense of what is considered most serious. Some, such as failing to do criminal background checks, are considered among the most dangerous. Others, such as incomplete day care policies, are considered less crucial. Look at the number and types of violations before choosing your child care provider.

High employee turnover: To be sure, most child care facilities face turnover problems simply because employees don’t make a lot of money. But if your child is constantly being exposed to a rotating cast of caregivers, you should ask why.

No clear curriculum: Child care is not just baby-sitting. Children should be offered structure and activities that promote learning and development. If children are watching television all day, they lack the opportunity to develop important social or physical skills. Ask your potential child care provider what children do all day. Look for up-to-date toys and play areas.

Too many children: There are plenty of large day care centers out there that take good care of children. But sometimes, child care facilities have more kids than they can handle, resulting in poor supervision and risk of harm. Take stock of whether the day care facility seems under control or whether chaos rules. Texas requires a certain number of caregivers per child, which can be found in the state’s manual for child care standards.

Physically unsafe environment: Look for overall cleanliness, trash, safety locks, broken toys and proper seating. Are caregivers washing their hands after changing diapers? Do you smell smoke? These can be clues the day care operation isn’t safe.

Poor communication: You should be able to easily schedule a meeting with your child care’s director. Teachers should be able to talk to you about what your child did all day and any concerns that might have popped up. If you feel like you’re not getting straight answers, this might not be the day care operation for you.