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DFPS Press Release

"Don't Be in the Dark" about Child Care

State agency gears up to go after illegal day care

DFPS Media Specialist
August 19, 2013

At this time of the year, a lot of parents are searching for day care for their preschoolers as their older kids get ready to go back to school. Unfortunately, some parents pick unregulated day care because it might be cheaper, and because they just may not know it's illegal.

The fact is that illegal day care operations are more likely to be unsafe. There are no background checks on workers, no inspections, and no standards to protect children in illegal day care. They operate in the dark.

This year the Legislature gave the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service's Child Care Licensing program new staff to go after illegal 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.  

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 database on the DFPS website.  You can also learn more about choosing child care at, 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 child care at and 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.
  • Meet the caregiver or director. Discuss any concerns and make sure you are satisfied with their answers. Make a surprise visit later for a second look.

All regulated day care staff must undergo background checks but regulation and state oversight increase with the size of the day care.

  1. Listed homes (1-3 unrelated children) must apply and pass background checks but are not inspected regularly.
  2. Registered homes (maximum of 12 children at any time) must meet training requirements and pass background checks, and are inspected every 2 years.
  3. Larger licensed homes and day care centers must meet health and safety requirements, get regular training, and are inspected every 5-12 months.

FY 2012 Texas Child Care Facts*

  • Regulated daycare centers and homes – 23,991
  • Capacity of regulated day care – 1,078,044 children
  • Number of state inspections – 35,755
  • Number of investigations of day care centers and homes – 14,114
  • Permits revoked, denied or suspended – 175
  • Number or DFPS background checks conducted – 214,313 
  • Number of FBI checked requested –156,997

* Source: DFPS 2012 Annual Report and Data Book

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