The responsibilities of Child Care Licensing (CCL) are to:
- Regulate all child-care operations and child-placing agencies to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in care.
- Establish and monitor operations and agencies for compliance with licensing standards, rules, and law.
- Inform parents and the public about child care, including the histories of specific homes, child-care operations, and child-placing agencies in complying with minimum standards of care.
- Provide technical assistance to child-care providers on meeting licensing standards, rules, and laws.
2011 Accomplishments and Initiatives
Scope of Child Care
The child-care industry is a significant and growing part of the Texas economy. Child care is one of the top 20 fastest growing industries in the state. It contributes about 1.9 percent of all new jobs in Texas and enables over half a million parents to work, while providing a secure and stimulating environment for Texas' children.
Improving Texas Child Care
In 2009 and 2010, CCL began a series of initiatives and invested $4 million in federal economic stimulus funds to enhance high-quality day-care programs for infants and toddlers. In 2011, CCL completed the plan for improving the quality of infant and toddler child-care programs. Some of the initiatives completed in 2011 are listed below:
- Technical Assistance Library–CCL created a centralized resource library for staff to share with those caring for infants and toddlers in regulated child-care settings. This library enhanced CCL's proactive approach to protecting children. The library lets staff provide technical assistance information to providers during an inspection. The library is continuously updated and has more than 137 documents. The library is available to everyone via the DFPS website.
- Tutorials–Working with AgriLife Texas Cooperative Extension (a part of the Texas A&M University system), CCL developed online tutorials for child-care providers, parents, caregivers, and CCL staff that focus on the healthy and safe care of infants.
- Advanced Instructor-Led Training–AgriLife Texas Cooperative Extension developed advanced training for caregivers and other professionals working with infants and toddlers. This instructor-led training was made available statewide. It focuses on basic health, safety, nutrition, safe sleep practices, continuity of care, quality care environments, and the social, emotional, and cognitive development of infants and toddlers.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: There were two CCL campaigns featuring Radio and TV public service announcements, social media, and news media coverage.
- Don't Be in the Dark–To educate the public on the importance of selecting regulated day care and improving communication with caregivers. www.DontBeInTheDark.org.
- Baby Room to Breathe - To educate public and child caregivers on ways to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and co-sleeping deaths and improve the health, safety, and development of infants and toddlers. www.BabyRoomToBreathe.org.
- Pre-Application Online Course - In July 2011, CCL released an online pre-application course that is an introduction to becoming a child-care provider. The course is for prospective licensed, registered, and listed child-care homes.
Additionally, CCL continued its oversight of residential operations by holding enforcement team conferences for residential treatment centers. The conferences review the facility's inspections and investigations and are designed to identify risk and begin strategies for reducing risk. In FY 2011, staff completed 108 enforcement team conferences in residential treatment centers.
The 81st Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 68, which requires DFPS to regulate certain programs for children not previously regulated by CCL. These include many skills or sports-based after-school programs and day care in environments such as domestic violence and homeless shelters. As a result, Child Care Licensing began regulating three new types of care in FY 2011:
- Before- and after-school care programs
- School-age/skills-based programs
- Temporary shelters providing child day-care services
CCL developed two new classes of standards to address the unique needs and services offered by these providers. Chapter 744 of the Human Resources Code focuses on school-age and before- or after-school programs, and Chapter 743 contains standards specific to (Temporary) shelter-care programs.
Senate Bill 68 also changed the main child-care law for Texas, Chapter 42 of the Human Resources Code, to refer specifically to "general residential operations" instead of "child-care institutions." In the past, "child-care institution" referred both to general residential operations and residential treatment centers. The wording was changed so all residential facilities are now called "general residential operations." While residential treatment centers are now a subset of general residential operations, their requirements have not changed. In FY 2011, CCL defined some other groups:
- All residential treatment centers.
- All operations offering child-care services only. These operations do not provide emergency care or treatment services. They may provide a transitional living program.
- All operations offering emergency-care services (short-term basis). These operations may also provide respite care and are more commonly known as emergency shelters.
- All operations offering multiple services or any combination of treatment or programmatic services under the same license. This is the category for all operations that do not fit into one of the first three categories.
CCL continues building and strengthening connections with community partners and other agencies and programs. Examples include the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Workforce Commission, AgriLife Texas Cooperative Extension (a part of the Texas A&M University system), the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Division of Early Childhood Intervention, the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, the Texas Licensed Child Care Association, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Agriculture, the State Fire Marshal's Office, and 2-1-1 Texas.
CCL is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of children who are not in the immediate care of their families while they attend or reside in regulated child-care operations and homes and while in the process of being adopted.
Chapters 42 and 43 of the Texas Human Resources Code require CCL to develop licensing standards for regulated operations and homes, as well as policies and procedures for enforcing those standards. CCL is responsible for inspecting child-care operations and investigating reports alleging violations of licensing standards or abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children in care. CCL also licenses child-care administrators and child-placing agency administrators. CCL provides technical assistance and training to potential applicants and child-care providers about complying with licensing standards. CCL also provides parents and other consumers with information about the types of child-care available, locations of child-care operations and homes in Texas, and the results of licensing inspections and investigations.
Regulating Child Care Operations
CCL regulates three categories of child-care operations. They are listed family homes, registered child-care homes, and licensed operations (licensed child-care centers and homes, 24-hour residential care, and child-placing agencies).
Listed Family Homes
Listed family homes provide child care on a regular basis (at least 4 hours per day, 3 or more days a week, for more than three consecutive weeks) in the providers' own homes for one to three unrelated children. Providers go through an application process that includes a criminal background check and getting a certificate. Listed family home providers must be at least 18 years old. However, there are no minimum standards and no orientation or training is required. Listed family homes are only inspected if DFPS receives a report alleging child abuse or neglect or violations of certain health and safety standards. CCL also investigates reports of homes that are not properly listed or registered.
Registered Child-Care Homes
Registered child-care homes provide care in the homes of providers for as many as 6 children younger than age 14 and as many as 6 additional school-age children. The number of children allowed in a home is determined by the ages of the children. No more than 12 children, including the provider's children, can be in care at any time. Providers are required to go through an application process that includes completing an orientation class and criminal background checks. DFPS issues a registration certificate after licensing inspectors complete an on-site inspection to ensure providers are meeting the minimum standards. Registered homes are inspected every one to two years. CCL also inspects them if it receives a report of child abuse or neglect or violations of standards.
All licensed operations must follow published standards and are routinely monitored and inspected. The application process includes completing an orientation class and criminal background checks. CCL issues a license after completing on-site inspections to ensure providers are meeting minimum standards. Licensed operations are inspected every 5 to 12 months or more often if there are reports of alleged child abuse or neglect or violations of state standards. Licensed operations include Day Care and 24-Hour Residential Care.
Child Day Care
- Licensed child-care homes provide care for less than 24 hours per day for seven or more children younger than age 14 in the caregiver's residence.
- Child-care centers provide care for seven or more children younger than age 14, for less than 24 hours per day, but at least two hours a day, three or more days a week, in a location other than the caregiver's residence.
24-Hour Residential Care
- Foster family homes provide 24-hour care for 6 or fewer children younger than age 18.
- Foster group homes provide 24-hour care for 7 to 12 children younger than age 18.
- General residential operations provide 24-hour care for 13 or more children younger than age 18 and may provide various treatment or programmatic services. Residential treatment centers, a subset of general residential operations, provide care exclusively for children requiring treatment services for emotional disorders.
- Child-placing agencies are people or organizations other than a child's natural parent or guardian who plan for placement of a child or place a child in a child-care facility, foster home, or adoptive home.
- Maternity homes provide 24-hour care for four or more minor and/or adult women in the postpartum period.
Annual Report of Licensing Violations
CCL uses licensing standards to protect the basic health and safety of children in out-of-home care. The goal is to appropriately and consistently enforce minimum standards for all types of operations statewide. Consistent enforcement aims to increase compliance by child-care operations and provide stronger protections for children. The regulation of child-care facilities and child-placing agencies routinely presents two challenges for licensing staff and permit holders alike: consistent interpretation of minimum standards; and consistent enforcement decisions and actions.
CCL analyzes trends in violations both statewide and regionally to get a better idea of the technical assistance providers will need in the future.
Child Care Violation Trends
The DFPS Data Book includes a Statewide Trends Table of the top 10 standards deficiencies for day-care operations, based on an analysis of standard violations in FY 2011. Regional trend data is available upon request.
Residential Care Violation Trends
DFPS also publishes a Statewide Trends Table of the top 10 standards deficiencies for residential-care
operations, which is also derived from analyzing standard violations during FY 2011.
There is no regional analysis for residential-care operations because Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL) is a statewide program.
Addressing Violation Trends with Technical Assistance
It is important to note that these violations were cited in various types of inspections. Some were cited during unannounced, routine monitoring inspections. Some were cited after a complaint about a specific incident. Others were cited during targeted, follow-up inspections. CCL puts emphasis on giving technical assistance to providers to help them comply with licensing standards. In addition, the data is shared with all management staff and field trainers to promote awareness of the need to provide targeted technical assistance to providers in an effort to improve compliance.
CCL reviews cases and uses analyses by the DFPS Performance Management Division to identify trends and develop recommendations for training, program structure, policy, and practice. This improves the quality and consistency of monitoring and investigations. CCL staff review compliance history information that indicates a higher risk of harm to children and provide objective recommendations to ensure the safety of children in care. CCL uses an automated quality assurance and performance management system to obtain measurable feedback on employee casework.
To enhance the quality of child-care regulation, a broad range of CCL staff across the state received almost 15,000 hours of training and work-related professional development. Topics included child development, automation support, regulation and inspection of operations, and health and safety issues. At the same time, CCL staff provided more than 79 training events for almost 10,712 caregivers. Those topics included minimum standards, health and safety, infant and toddler needs, guidance, discipline, staff-to-child ratios, and child development. During the same period, CCL conducted 405 orientation sessions for 4,117 people. These sessions give an overview of the licensing process, including steps for completing an application and obtaining a permit to operate in Texas.