Childcare programs are strictly regulated by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). While most working parents are familiar with the general safety standards that apply to all childcare programs, many are unaware of the rules for get-well programs and nighttime programs.
Rules for Get-Well Programs
Get-well programs provide care for children with minor illnesses who are too sick to attend a regular daycare program but not sick enough to require isolation at home. These programs may operate as part of a larger facility that also serves healthy children or as a separate entity. Some of the many rules that apply to this type of childcare arrangement include:
- The child’s needs must be evaluated before entering the program to ensure it is possible to care for their illness without compromising the safety and wellbeing of the other children in the program.
- The get-well program is required to have a separate entrance that is not used by healthy children in the same facility, as well as a separate ventilation system.
- There should be a hand-washing sink in every room. If the facility serves children in diapers, the diaper changing surface must be next to a sink.
- Children with respiratory illnesses must be separated from children with gastrointestinal illnesses using curtains, partitions, or walls.
- All supplies used by the get-well program, including furniture, equipment, and linens, must be sanitized before being used by healthy children in the same facility.
- Meals and drinks should be served using disposable, single-use cups, plates, and utensils.
- Staff members supervising and caring for children in the get-well program are not allowed to care for healthy children the same day.
- Get-well program employees are required to complete five hours of annual training in the prevention and control of communicable diseases and care of ill children in addition to the standard education requirements that all childcare providers must fulfill.
Rules for Nighttime Programs
Nighttime programs provide care for children with parents who work second- or third-shift jobs. Nighttime programs are defined as those that provide care to children who spend the night or part of the night at the childcare center between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Some of the rules that apply to this type of program include:
- Even if the children are sleeping, caregivers must be awake at all times.
- Children under the age of 18 months must have a crib and children over 18 months must have a cot, bed, or mattress.
- Boys and girls must have separate sleeping and dressing areas if they are six or older.
- The facility can’t care for children for more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period on a daily basis or more than three consecutive 24-hour periods with a maximum of six 24-hour periods per month.
- Children must be provided with activities and routines suitable for nighttime care, such as time to complete homework, quiet activities such as puzzles or reading, time for personal care routines and preparation for sleep, and an evening meal, breakfast, and snack.
When the Rules Aren’t Followed, Children Can Be Seriously Injured
HHSC rules are outlined in a 244-page guidebook on the department’s website. All facilities are expected to be aware of the rules that apply to their programs and follow them accordingly. If a violation results in a child’s injury, the care provider or facility owner can be held civilly liable for the resulting damages. In some cases, criminal charges may also be filed.
If your child has been injured due to a daycare provider’s negligence, The Button Law Firm can help. We’ve created a free guide, A Five-Step Guide for Parents Dealing With a Daycare Injury, that explains the steps you should take to protect your family’s legal right to compensation after your child has been injured. We also invite you to contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your child’s injuries and the best way to proceed with your case.