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A Parent's Guide to Daycare

When you choose licensed child care, you and your family join your child in new
experiences and relationships. You, the child-care director, child-care staff, and other
people in the child-care center have a responsibility to protect the health, safety, and
well-being of your child.

What is child-care licensing?
• The Licensing Division was established by
law to regulate child-care facilities to help
protect the health, safety, and well-being
of children in care.
• With the assistance of child-care providers
and experts in areas such as child
development, early childhood education,
fire safety, health, and sanitation, the
Licensing Division develops minimum
• Licensing staff inspect child-care centers, private kindergartens and nursery
schools, some unaccredited private schools, group child-care homes, and drop-in
care centers to be sure that minimum standards are met. The staff also investigate
complaints about violations of the minimum standards and the child-care licensing law.

Your child-care facility is responsible for meeting minimum standards. Many child-
care programs exceed these requirements. Licensing does not regulate child-care
fees, collection policies, or the kind of learning program your child-care facility offers.
Each facility has its own special personality and approach to educating and caring for
children. Parents can choose the kind of program that best meets the needs of their
child and family.

Suggestions for parents
Choose your child-care facility carefully.
• When you visit a child-care facility, ask to see the license. The license means that
the child-care facility met the minimum licensing standards the last time it was
inspected for such things as fire, sanitation, and safety; the number of child-care staff
required; staff qualifications; and requirements for special services.

Establish a good relationship with the child-care facility
• Spend time at the child-care facility before you enroll your child. Ask questions
about the program and observe the activities. Make sure the child-care facility has all
the information needed about your child and family to provide good care.
• Work with the staff of the child-care facility you choose. Parent involvement is an
important part of a successful experience with child care.
• Read all the material the child-care provider gives you. In addition to material
required by licensing standards, each facility has its own policies and requirements.
It's important that you understand these requirements before you enroll your child. It's
equally important, once your child is in care, to read the notices, special requests,
notes, and other materials the child-care provider sends home.
• Drop in occasionally during the day to observe how your child interacts with staff
and other children, and get a good picture of the day-to-day activities at the center.
Be careful not to disrupt activities.
• Keep your side of the bargain. Pick up your child on time.
• Discuss concerns with the child-care director. Be aware that the teacher's main
responsibility is working with the children. Don't be offended if the teacher can't
spend much time talking with you when you drop off or pick up your child. If you need
more time to talk about your child, set up a conference.
• It's important to let the child-care facility know about things at home that may affect
how your child is doing in child care.

When your child starts child care
• Remember that it's normal for a child to have some fears and misgivings about
starting child care. Children need time to get used to new situations. Prepare your
children for the change as far in advance as possible. Discuss their concerns. If
you're enthusiastic, chances are they soon will be, too.
• Depending on their ages, some children will temporarily "act out" their feelings by
clinging to you and refusing to let go, forgetting their toilet training, having bad
dreams, sucking their thumbs, or other such behavior.

Talk things over with your child
• Make an opportunity each day to gently ask questions when your children are quiet
and feeling secure and protected. Share their excitement about new friends, new
skills, and new abilities; listen to their concerns; and give them a chance to boast
about their achievements.

Parent responsibilities
The child-care facility must get certain information and records from parents to
ensure the child's health and safety, handle emergencies, and meet minimum
standards. If you do not provide this material, the child-care facility will not be in
compliance with the minimum standards.
• Complete an enrollment form that includes basic information about your child;
telephone numbers where you can be reached during the day; authorization for
emergency care for your child; and written permission for swimming, other water
activities, and transportation services.
• Tell the caregiver about any special concerns or needs, including allergies, medical
history, and current medications.
• Give the child-care facility a copy of your child's immunization record showing
immunizations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella,
and Haemophilus influenzae type b. In some parts of Texas, a tuberculosis test report
is also required. For school-age children, you can sign a statement that these
records are on file at the school.
• Provide a doctor's statement that your preschool child is physically able to
participate in the child-care program.
• Inform the child-care facility in writing about who is permitted to take your child from
the facility. Generally, the child-care facility may only release your child to you or to
an adult you designate.
• The facility may allow a school-age child to leave the facility alone or allow an older
brother or sister to pick up a child if you request this in writing. The facility is only
allowed to do this when all safety considerations have been met.
• Make sure that child-care staff know the child has arrived. Make sure that staff are
aware when you come to pick up your child. Don't leave your child at the front door,
and never leave your child at the facility before opening or after closing.
• Other requirements must be met if the child-care provider gives medication to your
child, if your child is an infant, or if your child needs special care or a special diet.

Take a good look
As you become more familiar with your child's child-care program, you will see many
strong points. Almost all child-care facilities strive to provide a warm, loving, safe, and
healthy environment for children. Look for these characteristics, but also be aware of
warning signals that tell you something is wrong.

Feel secure when you see that:
• the facility welcomes you to visit any time, and you are invited to observe the class
or participate in activities.
• staff are alert and involved with the children.
• staff seem warm and interested in the children. There is spontaneous laughter,
hugging, and eye-to-eye contact.
• staff are gentle, but firm when necessary.
• the facility is clean and attractive.
• your child is relaxed and happy after the initial adjustment period.
• your child seems physically well cared for. Staff inform you of minor accidents and
tell you when your child doesn't feel well.
• children seem involved with constructive activities, and they get individual attention.

Be seriously concerned when you see that:
• parents are not encouraged to visit the facility.
• children are left without direct adult supervision.
• adults spend much time scolding, ordering, and yelling at children.
• adults are physically rough with children or allow rough play.
• the building is dirty, or you see unsafe conditions.
• your child is unhappy about being left at the facility, and this doesn't improve with
• a child comes home bruised or injured, and the center can't explain what happened.
(The child may not remember minor bruises and scrapes received when playing,
• children seem aimless, bored, angry, or frustrated, or there are too many children to

When things aren't going well
You may find yourself displeased about something that has happened at the facility.
Talk about these things with facility staff. There may be a misunderstanding that can
easily be resolved.

If the situation isn't resolved and you believe minimum standards are not being met,
call the local child-care licensing office. They will handle your call discreetly.

A licensing representative will investigate your complaint. The licensing
representative may need to interview you and your child and may also interview other
children at the facility.

If the licensing representative finds that a standard has been violated, the facility will
be notified and a time set for the facility to correct it.

Licensing staff may revoke a license if a facility doesn't meet minimum standards. The
department does not take action to revoke a license unless children are in immediate
danger or the licensee refuses to comply with standards.

If you suspect child abuse
Most child-care facilities, like most parents, take good care of children. Child abuse is
rare, and it is very unlikely that anything like this will happen to your child.

If you do suspect that your child has been abused or sexually molested, report the
situation immediately. Use the toll-free Child Abuse Hot-line number (1-800-252-
5400), available 24 hours a day. If you think the abuse occurred in a child-care
facility, call your child-care licensing office. The situation will be investigated
immediately, and you will be given referrals or recommendations for help for your
child and family.

Should agency staff interview or examine your child during an abuse investigation, a
reasonable effort will be made to notify you within 24 hours after the interview or

Parents who suspect or believe that their child has been abused in child care
sometimes remove their child from care, but don't report the problem. This leaves
other children in danger. State law requires you to report suspected child abuse.

Should testimony in court be needed, you may be able to testify on behalf of your
child if you were the first person to hear your child's story.

When people make a report of suspected child abuse in good faith, they are immune
from any liability. If a complaint is made with malicious intent or for revenge, there is
no liability protection.

When the department investigates a complaint, the identity of the complainant is not
revealed. Everyone, including child-care providers, is required by law to report
suspected child abuse or neglect immediately
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