Every year the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services compiles data from thousands of unannounced daycare inspections. While each licensed center or licensed or registered home has their individual inspection report available for view on the state's website, the compiled data, which shows trends in standards deficiencies, is available only in the yearly report. The top ten deficiencies across the state show which standards are most likely to be overlooked and give a good measure of not only how daycares can and should improve, but also what problems parents should look for in a daycare to help find quality childcare.
For 2011 the top two deficiencies and the fifth most common deficiency cited were missing, incorrect or expired background checks. The DFPS ranks these standards as medium, but as a parent, you should be wary of any daycare that does not keep up with background checks on all employees or in a home, all occupants over the age of 14. People with certain criminal histories are barred from working with children by law and a background check is the most effective enforcement tool.
Three other deficiencies that can be spotted by parents during a tour of a facility or home are areas free from hazards (home and center deficiencies are separated) and maintenance of building, grounds and equipment. DFPS lists such hazards as: electrical outlets, sliding glass doors, fans, air conditioners or heaters, pools or other bodies of water, poisonous or harmful household products, toys with sharp or rough edges or toxic paint and toy chests or other storage with hinged lids that could close on or entrap children. All of the above must either be inaccessible to children or modified for safety, such as putting outlet covers on unused outlets.
Three more of the top ten deficiencies deal with the caregivers themselves. Caregivers must "Demonstrate Competency, Good Judgment and Self-control." They also must supervise children at all times and be sure to keep within the maximum child-to-caregiver ratios. Though not always visible, these types of deficiencies are found on a center or home's inspection report. While checking that inspection report, be sure you can see the center's fire inspection was within the last twelve months. Over 1,000 daycare centers in Texas did not have their annual fire inspection last year.