What are minimum standards? What does this mean to my family? What does exceeding look like? Is it necessary? How would I know what to look for in my current childcare?
Let’s dive into the basics.
What are Minimum Standards?
The minimum standards are developed by the TDFPS with the assistance of child care operations, parents, lawyers, doctors, and a variety of other experts in related fields. These standards are a product of contributions that reflect what the citizens of Texas consider reasonable and minimum.
These minimum standards are weighted based on risk to children. The weights are: high, medium-high, medium-low, and low. Each licensed childcare provider is inspected to ensure compliance with the minimum standards to prevent risk to children in care
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services oversees the license of a child care center. Every child care organization teams up with a regional representative to ensure that the minimum standards are being met. These are called inspections. They can be random, after a concern was raised, or based upon compliance history.
What does an inspection mean?
During an inspection, a center can be found to be either in or out of compliance with the minimum standards. Not being in compliance with the minimum standards is called being in deficiency. The weight of the deficiency is set out in the minimum standards. The center will need to address all issues that prevent them from being in compliance within a certain timeframe and with the guidance of the representative. All child care centers have the help of their licensing staff to provide technical assistance.
The expectation is to always be in compliance while going above and beyond in your policies and procedures to ensure the safety for all children in your care.
How can I know what inspections my center has had?
A quick search on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (found here) will let you see the last five years of compliance summary. You will click on the number of deficiencies, date of inspection, correction date required, see the weight of the deficiency, and the narrative of the representative.
You will also see self-report in the summary. All licensed centers are required to report serious incidents that happened at the facility. This could range from reporting a serious illness/injury to needing to close the facility for any reason.
Wow! What do I do now that I know!?
If you see some deficiencies, read through each one and see what type of deficiency it is. What is the weight? Was it corrected? Have you seen policies and procedures implemented that show you that they are actively doing corrective action against this deficiency? Sometimes, deficiencies are clerical and may show that a person forgot to sign a training certificate. However, some deficiencies can show that a center needs to restructure their training, policies, and procedures to ensure they meet the minimum standards to keep their children safe.
What action should I take?
If you see deficiencies that concern you, schedule some time with your school’s administration to address your concerns. A high quality child care center will be happy to discuss your concerns and have answers to all deficiencies found. You should feel reassured that your child care team is going above and beyond to address all safety concerns. Feel free to ask for specific examples of procedures that address the deficiencies.
How do centers exceed the minimum standards?
Centers can exceed the minimum standards by creating and enforcing standards that go beyond what is needed in all categories. From staff training, family involvement, indoor and outdoor environment, toys, to our guidelines for teacher-child interactions, we know that raising the standard in every way is the best way to care for our children.
Every parent/guardian has the right to know the details about the center that is providing care for their child. Open communication and transparency is key to creating bonds between caregivers and families.
Let us know your thoughts about licensing and minimum standards!