Child care can be one of the biggest expenses in a family’s budget. Shopping for the best rate is always a good course of action. However, at what expense? There are so many types of daycare facilities to chose from. There are nationally recognized daycare centers and there are home-based daycares that may provide a cheaper alternative. However, while a daycare run out of someone’s home may be the cheapest option, is it always the wisest?
Vetting a Home Daycare
Attorney Paul H. Cannon, of Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. advises the importance of thoroughly vetting in-home daycares for above and beyond just the cost. He has seen cases where a child will suffer an injury due to the negligence of a childcare provider, but there is no protection because the home daycares are not required by the State of Texas to carry liability insurance.
Texas Classifications of Home-Based Childcare and Daycare Facilities
There are three classifications for home daycare recognized by Texas, so it’s important to understand each.
- Licensed Family Homes are private residences owned and operated by at least one adult with up to three children, of no relation, brought into the home. In addition to these children, the homeowner/daycare provider can care for their own children or relatives with a maximum number of children set at 12. The primary caregiver for all these children only needs to be 18 years of age.
- Registered Child Care Homes are structured roughly the same way as Licensed Family Homes except they are restricted to only six young children (who are not school-aged) and six additional children who go to school and can only attend the daycare home during after-school hours. The primary caregiver must be at least 21 years of age.
- Licensed Child Care Homes are allowed a maximum of 12 children, but that number can fluctuate down if very young children are being cared for. These facilities are inspected every 10 to 12 months and the primary caregiver has to be over the age of 21.
Regulation of Registered and Licensed Childcare Homes
Both Registered and Licensed Child Care Homes must follow several requirements set forth in the Minimum Standard Rules of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the licensing requirements in the Human Resources Code, Chapter 42. These requirements mainly cover the education level of the caregiver, CPR certification, minimum amount of play areas, and other items. The full statute can be found here.
Are Daycares Required to Carry Liability Insurance?
The short answer is “no.” While there are several important requirements outlined and covered by the State laws, according to Cannon, one key item is not covered: liability insurance. “State law simply does not require that these types of childcare facilities carry any liability insurance to cover your children if they are injured due to the childcare provider’s negligence,” said Cannon. “This is purely optional.”
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Childcare Injuries?
Again, the answer is “no.” “The typical homeowners’ insurance policy contains an exclusion for injuries that occur during the course of a business being operated out of the premises. Thus, there is no coverage under homeowner’s policies for in-home daycare operations. Additional insurance can be purchased for this, but many of the people who open these mom-and-pop home daycare facilities are unaware of their homeowners’ policy exclusion or simply are not responsible enough to go pay for additional coverage,” said Cannon.
How to Confirm Whether Your Daycare is Protected
Before sending a child to a new daycare provider, ask the owner/operator/manager to see proof of any licenses they may hold and also proof of liability insurance. If the show you a simple homeowner’s insurance policy or declarations page, that is not sufficient proof of coverage for an injury to your child and you should go elsewhere.
“If your current daycare provider cannot provide you with sufficient documentation of liability coverage, you need to switch daycares,” Cannon advised. “If your child is injured by, or on the premises of, a home child care facility, you should speak to a Texas personal injury lawyer immediately to determine what regulations apply and what rights you have.”
For more information on daycare liability or any personal injury case, contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. at 713-932-0777. The initial consultation is free.