A key indicator of the quality of child care centers is the child to caregiver ratio – the maximum number of children that one caregiver can be responsible for in a child care setting.
In Texas, ratio standards are established based on the age of children. For example, as shown in Table 1, for a group of two-year-old children, the maximum number that one caregiver may supervise is 11 children. If the number of children in the group exceeds that maximum, then the ratio standard has been violated.
Analysis of ratio data can help inform whether the State’s minimum ratio standards are adequate at keeping children safe.
Currently, the Child Care Licensing (CLL) division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services annually collects data and reports only if a child care center has violated the required ratio standard. However in June 2016, Collaborative for Children, Children’s Learning Institute, and the Child and Family Research Partnership worked with CLL to collect actual ratio data to understand the impact of child care ratios on child safety.
Preliminary analyses of the ratio data collected for the study show that when ALL classrooms in child care settings are better than the minimum standard, children are safer. Findings include:
These findings, though preliminary, suggest an important link between classroom ratios and children’s safety in child care centers. Additional data are necessary to fully support the link and to determine the ideal ratio; the ongoing collection of ratio data during licensing inspections is recommended.
For more about the study, see CFRP Policy Brief Child Care Ratios in Texas and Children’s Safety (B.025.0117).