Last year, almost a dozen children died in unlicensed and unregistered child care facilities in Texas.
On Wednesday, state agents launched a campaign right here in Lubbock to fight those illegal daycares. The goal, to protect the children of Texas.
According to the state's childcare licensing division, the number of illegal daycares is up and the number of legitimate daycares is down. They say more operations are going underground - and that's putting thousands of children at risk.
"In 2005 in Texas, we had 10 kids die in unregulated daycares. In 2004 there was eight. We want to cut down on that and make sure that these parents have a safe place to leave their kids," says Greg Cunningham with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Cunningham says many parents find unregulated centers appealing because they are usually less expensive.
This state-wide campaign is aimed at keeping your child safe when you drop them off every morning. So how can you tell the difference between the good and the bad places?
There are 289 licensed and registered care facilities and homes in the Lubbock area. Their number one priority is making sure your kids are safe when you leave. "Parents have to enter their code to enter our building," said Corey Jones, director at The Playhouse and Learning Stations.
It's not regulation, but this entry system helps ensure a safe facility for your children. "We're talking about your most precious possession in the world," Cunningham said.
All licensed and registered childcare facilities and homes throughout the state of Texas have guidelines in place to protect that precious possession. "Everything has to be safety inspected," Jones said.
He says having to follow rules and regulations keeps everyone on the same field. "We have our minimum requirements that we must uphold."
"We feel very comfortable that all these rules and regulations are for the safety of the children and that's what we're here for," Jones said.
"You might be able to save a few dollars by putting them in an unlicensed daycare, but you have no way of knowing if it's safe," Cunningham said.
Family and Protective Services urges you to investigate any care center before you take your child there. One thing to look for. An official license with the state of Texas seal on it. It should be hanging somewhere in the front. If you don't see that, you should start asking questions. To see a l0ist of licensed and registered providers throughout the state of Texas, (click here).