State Agency Goes After Illegal Child Care 8/26/13
CBS 7 News
August 26, 2013
Midland, TX - April Gomez a licensed childcare specialist with Toddler Tech in Midland says taking care of children is a career in itself.
“It has been my whole life's dream to take care of kids and keep them safe and I just got my bachelor's degree,” she said.
She says they must go through many requirements to keep the establishment licensed with the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS).
“Baby-sitting and day care are two different things,” Gomez said.
According to DFPS officials, if three or more children who are unrelated are being cared for under one roof, that caretaker must be licensed along with the building.
Nearly 24,000 Texas day care centers and homes were licensed in 2012, but with a high demand in the Permian Basin some businesses do not comply.
“If they’re not licensed they do not have background checks, they’re not finger printed or CPR certified,” Gomez said, “They’re taking kids from us because they're charging a cheaper rate.”
“Pretty much there are waiting lists anywhere you look,” said Amber Vancleave, who is one of many local moms who can attest to the issue.
“Whether or not they have a license? Yes that's the first thing I look for,” she said.
She says it is not enough to just find that home away from home for her three-year-old daughter Riley, but also a safe service that meets the standards of the state.
“That would be an accident waiting to happen,” she said, “They pack the building full of kids and don't pay attention and that's scary.”
All regulated day care staff must undergo background checks but regulation and state oversight increase with the size of the day care.
"We are hiring 40 new staff whose only job is to track down illegal day care operators and either bring them into the light of state regulation or shut them down," says Paul Morris, acting assistant commissioner for Child Care Licensing. One of those investigators will be assigned to the Permian Basin area.
Morris urges all parents to do their homework and always choose regulated day care.
You can find a state-regulated day care in your area and review its record by using the TxChildCareSearch.org database on the DFPS website. You can also learn more about choosing childcare at www.DontBeInTheDark.org, where you will find a downloadable tip card and brochure.
If you're looking for day care, remember to look, learn, visit, and meet:
·Look for features that will help your child thrive. Consider the caregiver’s education, experience, and training, as well as the size of the group and setting.
·Learn about licensed and registered childcare at DontBeInTheDark.org and TxChildCareSearch.org. Explore day care options - searching by ZIP code, city, or county - and read the day care's inspection record.
·Visit the day care you are considering, while children are there, so that you can see activities, how caregivers act with children, and how the children like it there.