The Epidemic of Unlicensed Daycares in Texas

| December 15, 2017 | Comments (0)

Unlicensed Day Care in Texas

When a parent has to work, finding a good day care is essential. For one Texas mom who worked late hours, the decision to choose an unlicensed day care became one with disastrous results.

After placing an ad online, Megan Norris and her mother visited the in-home day care. They admitted they didn’t check every room, but were told there were only two other children there. Megan’s child John started attending day care in January, and the mother said she felt her child was safe because the provider told her Child Protective Services had placed two other children in her care. It was later revealed by CPS that they never placed a child with that provider.

In August, the mother dropped the child off at 4:15 p.m. A few hours later, the child was found deceased after being left strapped into his car seat and placed in a closed closet at the home. The mother found out too late that the day care provider had been operating an unlicensed, unregulated day care and was watching an average of 10-11 children at the time.

While an unlicensed day care might be tempting for many parents due to lower cost, it’s important to understand that this could put your child at a heightened risk of injury or abuse.

“Use a licensed day care,” Norris said. “I don’t want what happened to John to happen to another child.”

The Case Facts and Statistics

While this particular day care was unlicensed, even those listed with the state are not free of ongoing problems. For example, a man in Everman was recently sentenced to prison after molesting a girl in his mother’s home day care. Parents are often unaware that even in-home day cares that are listed with the state do not receive the oversight they should.

In 2016, Arlington, Texas had the most violations and investigations of in-home day cares according to statistics the Star-Telegram obtained. The region also has the most day cares in the state, and has been high on the list of investigations and violations for the past seven years.

State statistics also show 27 children have died at day cares in the Arlington region in both home day cares and licensed facilities since 2010. Five died in Tarrant County during the same period, but there were no statistics available for home day cares individually.

Types of Day Cares

In the state of Texas, there are three different types of home day cares: licensed, registered, or listed with the Health and Human Services Commission. Parents need to make sure they are aware of what this means.

The state conducts background checks on all providers and their families regardless of the type of care. Unfortunately, once background checks are completed, inspections vary. For example, an application for a licensed home day care costs $35 and requires the provider to meet minimum standards.

The provider must pay an additional $35 before the state issues an initial license, and if the provider fails to demonstrate compliance with the initial minimum standards within six months, state officials have the option to extend this initial period another six months just one time for a fee of $35.

A major advantage of a licensed day care home is it is inspected at least once a year. Some of the warning signs parents should look for include the following:

  • Too many children in the home
  • Minimal of non-existent open communication
  • Unhealthy or unsafe environment
  • Lack of emotional support from caregivers
  • Lack of compliance with state licensing regulations

Parents can search the inspection history of an individual day care (including reports of day care abuse) at


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