Databases helpful tools when deciding on child care | Opinion


Ask any parent who works and has children young enough for day care and they will tell you they worry about the day care facilities they use. They want their children to be safe and in a clean, nurturing environment while they are at work.

Oftentimes when it comes to finding a day care for their children, new parents are hard pressed to know how to find the right place.

With the popularity of social media, it is fair to presume many parents reach out on these platforms for recommendations and pros and cons of day care facilities.

This may not be the best way to vet a facility. We know social media comments are not always fact-based and are often misleading.

Other parents will seek opinions from people they know. Word-of-mouth recommendations are good and often prove to be valuable.

But parents need to know they have a strong fact-based resource available to them through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The state database lists all the licensed facilities in the state, searchable by county, city and even the name of a facility. It is a helpful tool for any person searching for information on any licensed facility in the state.

Advocate reporter Ian Grenier recently built a database highlighting the 31 licensed facilities in Victoria County. It is easy to use. It is a useful resource based on the facts of state inspections and the state’s reports.

The inspection reports filed twice a year by state inspectors are public to anyone who wants to search the database. These reports are based on the inspectors’ actual experience at the facility, not hearsay or some wild comment on social media.

Childcare facilities must have a license issued by the state before they can legally open for business. Center owners and operators have a 200-page book of state codes they must know and follow to stay open.

The inspectors, during their in-person, surprise visits, grade everything from cleanliness to safety of the facility and furnishings within the centers, how the children are treated and how they are being cared for by employees during the inspection, among many other items.

The deficiencies, if found, are rated from the most serious, heavy, to the less serious, light.

The records also contain reports made by parents as well as the centers’ staff of incidents that occur throughout the year.

Center operators hope every time an inspector walks through their doors that the inspector will find no deficiencies and the center will receive top ratings. That level of ratings not only says they’re doing a good job caring for the children but also are paying attention to the state requirements to safely operate.

A good report by the state is also a good marketing tool for the centers to show to potential customers who visit the facility.

But, not all inspections go well. Some deficiencies found are easily repaired while others take time.

The good and the bad are found in the reports. It is important for parents or anyone searching the site to know both sides.

One thing that would make this process better is if the state conducted unannounced inspections more frequently than twice a year. We agree that would require more inspectors as well as more money and resources, but the extra expense would be worth it.

Giving parents peace of mind that their children are attending a day care that follows state regulations is essential in this world today.

Parents should want to do their homework before agreeing to take their children to a particular facility and the databases are the best factual resources. The time it takes to study the databases is worth the peace of mind it brings knowing they selected a quality center for their children.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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