Choosing child care is a difficult decision for any family. You want to be sure that your child will be safe and well cared for. Talking to other parents of children with disabilities will help you find trustworthy, high-quality child care centers or homes. But don’t stop there. Do your homework and learn as much as you can. The resources in this article can help.
Child care centers and child care homes must be licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Learn more about the types of care available and how often DFPS staff inspect a facility. If you want to review the compliance history of a licensed or registered center or home, visit the DFPS’s Search for Child Care Center or Home. (Note: to do a search, you need to know the exact name of the facility as it appears on their license or registration.)
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) may help with child care services if you are receiving or transitioning off public assistance and have a low income. Your local Workforce Development Board provides financial support to area child care providers. Find your local Workforce Board and contact them to learn if you are eligible.
Almost all child care programs must follow Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means they cannot discriminate against children with disabilities. Child care programs that are run by a religious institution such as a church, synagogue, or mosque are the exceptions. They do not have to follow Title III of the ADA, though some may comply anyway.
Once you have a list of licensed or registered child care options, it is important to visit the programs in person. Talk to the director of the program about what you are searching for and ask how they can respond to your child’s needs. The resources that follow can help you become a wise child care shopper.
Download 5 Steps for Selecting Care for Your Child (PDF) from Little Texans, Big Futures. It covers the different types of child care programs, tips for searching for child care (including for children with disabilities), and forms you can use to keep track of information as you research and visit different programs.
Check out Choosing Quality Child Care from ZERO TO THREE, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to making sure that infants and toddlers have a strong start in life. It offers a lot of good child care shopping advice.
Some child care centers go through an accreditation process to demonstrate their program meets high standards of care and uses appropriate teaching practices for young children. There are several national child care accreditation organizations:
Visit The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to search for a NAEYC-accredited child care program near you. NAEYC also offers tips and a guide for finding quality child care programs.
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) accredits home-based providers. Use the NAFCC search tool to find accredited home-based child care providers in your area. Here are tips from NAFCC to find quality child care.
The Association for Early Learning Leaders focuses on leadership development and enhancing program quality.
Just because a program is accredited doesn’t mean it will be right for your child or your family. You still have to do your homework and visit the program to judge for yourself.