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Is your child's daycare safe? Childcare advocates warn against unlicensed facilities

Dianne Nielson, Executive Director of the Children's Coalition of Aransas County, said there are indicators that parents can look out for.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Four people have been arrested in Lockhart in connection to an alleged sexual assault at a Texas daycare center.

It calls into question the safety protocols that are in place, to make sure that children are being handed to the right caregivers. 

The incident occurred at a non-licensed daycare facility. As more and more parents struggle to find proper daycare for their children, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it's more important than ever to know where you're taking your kids and what security they have in place. 

Dianne Nielson, Executive Director of the Children's Coalition of Aransas County, said there are indicators that parents can look out for. 

"If a center says, oh, no, you have to make an appointment. Oh, no, we don't allow parents to come in. That's a big red flag," Nielson said. 

Nielson was named Advocate of the Year by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children. She said when searching for child care, be on alert for any signs of deception. 

"What's that center trying to keep from you? So parent engagement and involvement and inviting parents in is an important sign of quality," Nielson said. 

One suggestion she has for parents is to drop in unexpectedly.

"Pop in unannounced, see what's going on, communicate with your child's teacher, know who the teacher is, have contact with them," Nielson said.

Searching for reputable daycares through the Internet alone isn't enough, according to Nielson. 3NEWS reached out to Texas Health & Human Services and received the following statement:

Unregulated operations are not inspected and do not require caregivers to undergo background checks; unregulated operations also do not meet physical environment, training, and other basic health and safety requirements and can present real risk to children

Nielson recommends that parents ask questions and check for proper accreditation before placing their child in that center's care.

"Ask if the center is accredited. They'll have a big sign in the office that'll show that they've met those standards," Nielson said. "It's important for parents to be present."

If residents have any questions about child care operation, they can call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 800-252-5400.

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