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Demystifying the DFPS Child Care Inspection Reports

Rebecca Cole, Cofounder, Mom

December 11, 2018

The Austin American-Statesman is in the midst of publishing a yearlong investigation called Unwatched. It’s a compelling and chilling look at day care facilities in Texas. For parents who are considering a day care facility or for parents who currently have children in one, the American-Statesman’s series is an important piece of information that should be considered. It got me to thinking about all the things parents can and should use to make a decision about where to park their precious cargo every day.  I’m talking about your kids of course.


Whether you’re buying a car or pajamas on Amazon, consumer reviews play a part of the decision making for many. The same goes for child care. There are unofficial sources (like parent reviews) and official sources. The Texas DFPS produces licensing reports every year when they inspect a center (they may do more often than once per year, but that is the minimum requirement).

The reports can read like a government report (hard to access and confusing to understand… shocker), so we wanted to demystify those inspection reports and talk to you about what you should be looking for in the report.   

STEP 2: Type in the child care center or preschools name you are wanting to look up where it says ‘Operation Name’.  You can leave everything else blank.

STEP 3:  When the Child Care Search Results come back, click on the correct center that shows under  the table heading ‘Operation/Caregiver Name’.

STEP 4: Scroll to the bottom of the text that comes up.  Go down past ‘Operation Details’ to where it says ‘Two Year Inspection Summary’. Now we’re finally where we need to be.  Now that wasn’t hard was it?! 

What you want to look at in this section is how many inspections were done,
how many standards were examined, and how many deficiencies were found.  

STEP 5:  DFPS gives a nice summary table of the deficiencies that were found too, so you can see how serious they were. 

STEP 6: If you click on each individual category (High, Medium-High, etc.) you can see more specifics on each item. In this example if I clicked on ‘High’ it would bring up another table that shows what those two high deficiencies were.

STEP 7:  If you then click within the ‘Narrative’ column a pop-up box will come up that shows you more details.  

STEP 8:  Note patterns or severe incidents that concern you.  With all of the things that licensing examines during their inspections, it is extremely rare that you will have a school with zero deficiencies.  So it is not the number of deficiencies that concern me so much as the type.

When I see a center that has a pattern of paperwork not being on file or background checks not being completed on time, it makes me wonder how well-managed that center is. 

I also look for extreme incidences where I child is left unattended or an accident report wasn’t filed and a parent reported something.    

When these types of things happen, it is best to talk to the director and ask about these things. Tell them your concerns and see if they have good answers for you.  A good director will be able to address your questions without getting defensive and state exactly what they have put in place to ensure they don’t have repeat deficiencies in these areas.

I hope that helps give you a bit of direction on what to look for in a report.  Please let me know what questions you have, as I would be happy to discuss things further. Leave a comment below.

Cheers, Rebecca