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.
- Permit and monitor operations and agencies for compliance with state licensing standards, rules, and law.
- Give child-care providers technical assistance to help them meet licensing standards, rules, and laws.
- Tell parents and the public about child care, including how specific homes, child-care operations, and child-placing agencies are complying with minimum standards of care.
2012 Accomplishments and Initiatives
Improving Texas Child Care
Texas child care standards, rules, and law include the concept of “controlling persons”. The Texas Human Resources Code defines a controlling person as “a person who, either alone or in connection with others, has the ability to directly or indirectly influence or direct the management, expenditures, or policies” of a child care operation.
Until September 2011, this concept applied only to 24-hour residential child care facilities. The 82nd Texas Legislature changed that with the passage of Senate Bill 1178. The concept now applies to day care, both operations and homes. This is a significant change for Texas day care providers and it was a significant undertaking for CCL to implement this change in FY 2012.
A controlling person is accountable and responsible for keeping children safe and complying with CCL standards and regulations. A controlling person is also accountable for any actions that lead CCL to revoke a child care permit. When CCL revokes a child care operation’s permit, the responsible person (after due process) is prohibited from applying for a permit or being a controlling person for five years.
Also, Senate Bill 78 of the 82nd Texas Legislature requires Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to communicate with each other about persons whose actions caused an agency to take adverse action, such as denying or revoking a permit. HHS agencies must share permit and controlling person information through a cross-agency database. This prevents individuals with a bad record at one agency from getting a permit from another agency that would put them in contact with at-risk populations served by HHS agencies.
The 82nd Legislature passed other laws that affected child-care centers and child-care homes. The primary changes for both child-care centers and homes related to training. Specifically, higher qualifications for trainers, more training for caregivers and directors, and a requirement that all training for caregivers and directors is relevant to the age of the children they serve. Other changes in law included administration of medication, specialized medical assistance for a child in care, and automatic permit suspension for those who don’t pay licensing fees on time.
Technical Assistance Library
The Technical Assistance Library is a repository of documents that Child Care Licensing shares with child care providers. Topics include best practice techniques and ways to comply with minimum standards while promoting the health, safety, and wellbeing of children in child care. CCL continued to add to the Technical Assistance Library in FY 2012. CCL staff use tablet PCs to download helpful documents from the library and share them with providers during inspections. The Technical Assistance Library is continuously updated and is available to everyone via the DFPS public website.
The eApplication is a tool available on the DFPS website that lets you submit an online application to become a listed or registered child-care provider in Texas. In FY 2012, the eApplication tool made it easier for applicants to apply, reduced processing and handling time compared to paper applications, and streamlined the process for getting DFPS background checks.
CCL Online Orientation
The CCL Online Orientation tool gives prospective providers of listed and registered-child homes information to help them apply for a listing or registration. It puts required materials and helpful resources at their fingertips before they take a pre-application class either in person or online. The CCL Online Orientation tool provides information on the types of day care operations in Texas, application checklists, information on licensing law and rules, and step-bystep guidance on the application process.
Search Texas Child Care
One of the most important services that CCL provides is information to parents about child care. CCL’s website serves up comprehensive compliance and regulatory information for both residential and day care operations. Anyone who wants to find and compare child care can use the online database (www.TxChildCareSearch.org) to search by type of care, location, services, name, or address. For each child care operation they will also find 2 years of compliance history, including a summary of inspections and deficiencies. The Texas Child Care Search results were viewed 1,634,975 times in FY 2012.
Don’t Be in the Dark
CCL continued its Don’t Be in the Dark (about child care) campaign during FY 2012. CCL launched the campaign in 2006 and in 2010 expanded it to feature two sets of public services announcements in English and Spanish; one that focuses on choosing regulated care and the other on parents listening to their children and talking to their child care provider. The spots were available to the public on the campaign website as well as the DFPS YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/TexasDFPS.
The Don’t Be in the Dark campaign directs parents, consumers and other interested persons to the agency’s child-care database (TxChildCareSearch.org), where they can find and research the regulatory compliance records of day care operations. See DontBeInTheDark.org for more information.
Baby Room to Breathe
The Baby Room to Breathe campaign continued and was enhanced during FY 2012 with the goal of educating parents and caregivers on ways to lower the risk of infants dying in their sleep. CCL and the Office, the Forensic Assessment Center Network, and 2-1-1 Texas.
The CCL Division is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of children who are not in the immediate care of their families and receive care in child-care facilities, listed and registered family homes, temporary shelter child care programs, and small employer-based child care (also all known as child care operations). CCL is also responsible for licensing child-care administrators and child-placing agency administrators who have roles in general-residential operations and child-placing agencies.
Through a process mandated by Chapters 42 and 43 of the Human Resources Code, CCL develops administrative rules and minimum standards for child-care operations and administrators. CCL also develops policies and procedures for CCL staff to follow when conducting regulatory activities, which include:
- Processing applications and issuing permits.
- Inspecting child-care operations.
- Investigating alleged violations of licensing statutes, rules, and minimum standards.
- Investigating reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children in care.
- Providing consultation, technical assistance, and training to potential and existing child-care providers on how to comply with minimum standards.
- Taking corrective or adverse action against an operation as necessary.
CCL also helps parents and others make informed decisions when choosing child care or making placements by giving them information about the types of child-care available, the locations of child-care operations in Texas, and the results of licensing inspections and investigations.
Who We Regulate
CCL regulates four basic categories of child care operations: licensed operations (day care and 24-hour residential care), registered child-care homes, listedfamily homes, and operations with a compliance certificate.
All licensed operations have specific minimum standards they must follow and they are routinely monitored and inspected by CCL. The applicant must complete a pre-application overview or orientation on regulation and be cleared by background checks. CCL issues a license only after it completes an on-site inspection to ensure the applicant is meeting licensing standards. CCL inspects licensed operations at least annually or more often if there are reports of alleged child abuse or neglect or violations of licensing statute, administrative rules, or minimum standards. Licensed operations include both day care and 24-hour care.
- Licensed child-care homes (known in statute as group-day care homes) provide care in the caregiver’s residence for 7-12 children under 14 years old for less than 24 hours a day, but at least two hours a day, three or more days a week.
- Child-care centers (also known as day care centers) are any operation, which cares for 13 or more children under 14 years old for less than 24 hours, but at least two hours a day, three or more days a week.
- Before and after-school programs provide care before or after the customary school day and during school holidays for at least two hours a day, three days a week, to children who attend pre-kindergarten through grade six.
- School-age programs provide care and supervision, along with recreational or skills instruction or training, before or after the customary school day for at least two hours a day, three or more days a week, to children attending pre-kindergarten through grade six. A school-age program may also operate during school holidays, the summer period, or any other time when school is not in session.
24-Hour Residential Care
- Foster-family homes provide 24-hour care for 6 or fewer children under 18 years old. Foster family homes can be verified by a child-placing agency (known as agency foster family homes) or can be independently licensed (known as independent foster family homes).
- Foster-group homes provide 24-hour care for 7 to 12 children under 18 years old. Foster group homes can be verified by a child-placing agency (known as agency foster group homes) or can be independently licensed (known as independent foster group homes).
- General-residential operations provide 24-hour care for 13 or more children under 18 years old and may provide various treatment services, emergency care services, or therapeutic camps. General-residential operations include residentialtreatment centers.
- Child-placing agencies are persons or organizations other than a child’s natural parent or guardian who place or plan to place a child in a child care facility, foster home, or adoptive home.
Registered-Child Care Homes
Registered child care homes (also known as registered family homes) provide regular care in the caregiver’s home for up to six children under age 14 and may also take in up to 6 additional school-age children.
Regular care is defined as “at least 4 hours per day, 3 or more days a week, for three or more consecutive weeks -or- four hours a day for 40 or more days in a period of 12 months.” The number of children allowed in a registered-family home is determined by the ages of the children. No more than 12 children can be in care at any time, including the caregiver’s children.
Anyone wanting to become a registered-child care home provider must complete a pre-application overview or orientation on regulation and be cleared by background checks. CCL issues a registration only after it completes an on-site inspection to ensure the provider is meeting the standards for a registered home. CCL inspects registered-family homes every 1-2 years. CCL will conduct an investigation if it gets a report alleging child abuse or neglect, or a violation of licensing statutes, administrative rules, or minimum standards.
Listed-family homes provide regular care in the caregiver’s home for one to three unrelated children under age 14. Regular care means “at least 4 hours per day, 3 or more days a week, for three or more consecutive weeks or four hours a day for 40 or more days in a period of 12 months.” Listed-family home providers must be at least 18 years old and go through an application process that includes a criminal background check and getting a “listing” permit from CCL in the form of a letter.
Listed-family home providers do not have to meet minimum standards or take training. While CCL does not inspect listed homes, it does investigate them when it gets reports alleging that:
- Children have been abused or neglected.
- The home is providing child care for too many children.
- A caregiver is giving a child medication without their parent or guardian’s written permission.
- There is immediate risk to the health or safety
of a child.
Operations with a Compliance Certificate
Persons wanting to operate a temporary shelter day care facility or employer-based day care facility must complete an application and be cleared by background checks. CCL completes an on-site inspection prior to issuing the permit to determine compliance with statutory requirements and minimum standards, if applicable. While CCL does not routinely inspect operations with a compliance certificate, it does investigate them when it receives a complaint or report of child abuse or neglect.
Temporary-Shelter Child Care
These operations provide child care at a temporary shelter, such as a family violence or homeless shelter at least four hours a day, three or more days a week, to seven or more children under 14 years of age while parents, who reside at the shelter, are away.
Beginning September 1, 2012, temporary-shelter child care operations will have to pass criminal background checks and an initial inspection. CCL will not regularly inspect these operations but will investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect or a violation of licensing statute, administrative rules, or applicable minimum standards for this type of operation.
Small Employer-Based Child Care
Small employer-based child care operations provide care for up to 12 of the employees’ children that are under 14 years of age, for less than 24 hours per day. Care is provided on the employer’s premises and in the same building where the parents work.
Before CCL issues a compliance certificate, the operation goes through an applications process that includes criminal background checks and an inspection. There are no minimum standards for these operations and they are not inspected after they have their certificate. However, CCL will investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect or a violation of licensing statute or administrative rules.
For more information, see: DFPS Data Book, pages 75-105
Reports on Licensing Violations
CCL uses licensing standards to protect the basic health and safety of children in out-of-home care. Our 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. Regulating child-care facilities and child-placing agencies routinely presents two challenges for CCL staff and permit holders alike:
- Consistent interpretation of minimum standards
- 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.
The DFPS Data Book includes a Statewide Trends Table for day-care operations. It includes the top 10 standards deficiencies for day-care operations, based on an analysis of violations in FY 2012. Regional data is available upon request.
For more information on statewide trends, see: DFPS Data Book, pages 89-90
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 2012. There is no regional analysis for residential-care operations because Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL) is a statewide program.
For more information on statewide trends, see: DFPS Data Book, page 105
Addressing Violation Trends with Technical Assistance
It is important to note that CCL cited these violations in various types of inspections. CCL found some during routine monitoring inspections, some after a complaint about a specific incident, and others during follow-up inspections. CCL puts emphasis on giving child care providers technical assistance to help them comply with licensing standards. Violation trend data helps CCL management and field trainers promote awareness of specific issues and target technical assistance to help 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 child-care regulation, a broad range of CCL staff across the state received over 5,000 hours of training and work-related professional development in FY 2012. Topics included ethics, communication, automation support, communicable diseases, EPAsponsored integrated pest control, safe sleep practices for infants, social and emotional development of young children, and child nutrition.
At the same time, CCL staff held more than 203 training events for 7,357 caregivers. Topics included prevention of abuse and neglect, health practices, infant and toddler care, reducing risk to children in care, positive discipline and guidance, supervision, updates to the minimum standards, directing for success (for new directors), and school-age care. During the same period, CCL conducted 282 orientations for 2,665 people. These sessions provided an overview of the licensing process and included how to complete an application and get a permit to operate in Texas.