A child day care program in Virginia refers to a regularly operating service arrangement for children where, during the absence of a parent or guardian, a person or organization has agreed to assume responsibility for the supervision, protection, and well-being of a child under the age of 13 for less than a twenty-four-hour period. The broadest categories of care are out-of-home ("Center-Based") care and in-home or "Family-Based" care in a private home. Those categories can be further broken down into "licensed", "unlicensed (but regulated)", and "approved". Regulated refers to a facility is regulated by the Virginia Department of Social Services
(VDSS). Approved refers to a facility that is regulated by an entity other than VDSS. The chart below allows you to explore the types of child care available, how they are regulated and provide you with related forms and applications. If you need further assistance selecting child care, the Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network (VACCRRN)
- Certified Preschool - Section 63.2-1717 of the Code of Virginia allows preschool programs operated by private schools that are accredited by a statewide accrediting organization (or another accrediting organization recognized by the Board of Education) to be exempt from licensure.
The State Board of Education recognizes the accreditation process for private schools administered through the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) Commission on Accreditation. Accrediting organizations that are approved by VCPE administer their own accrediting process for schools in their organizations.
In order for preschool and nursery school programs operated by accredited private schools to be certified, certain information must be filed with VDSS before the beginning of the school year or calendar year. That information must be filed annually thereafter. The information includes, but is not limited to, verification of accreditation or accreditation candidacy, a statement of intent, documentation that the parents or guardians of children in care have received written notification that the preschool is exempt from licensure, documentation that the school requires criminal record clearances on all employees of the preschool, a list of staff qualifications and health and fire inspections reports.
Child Day Center
- Child day centers are child day programs offered to (i) two or more children under the age of 13 years in a facility that is not the residence of the provider or of any of the children in care or (ii) 13 or more children at any location. A child day program is a regularly operating service arrangement for children where, during the absence of a parent or guardian, a person or organization has agreed to assume responsibility for the supervision, protection and well-being of a child under the age of 13 years for less than a 24-hour period.
Licensed programs must meet the standards promulgated by the Child Day-Care Council. The Virginia Department of Social Services enforces these standards by inspecting centers at least twice a year and investigating complaints.
- Religious Exempt Child Day Center - Child care centers operated by religious institutions may be exempt from licensure, per section 63.2-1716 of the Code of Virginia. Outlined in the Code are the requirements for religious exempt child day centers, who, unlike licensed centers do not have to meet the regulations prescribed by the Child Day Care Council. Religious exempt child care facilities must meet the requirements for exemption from federal taxes for religious purposes, or be exempt from paying local real estate taxes on the property owned by the sponsoring religious institution.
Facilities seeking exemption must submit certain documents to the Virginia Department of Social Services annually. These documents include:
- Statement of intent;
- Certification of tax-exempt status;
- Local health and fire reports;
- Verification of required staff/child ratio and staff health reports; and
- A statement showing the facility is in compliance with other health and safety requirements in the Code.
The Virginia Department of Social Services, Division of Licensing, may send inspectors to these facilities only to confirm that they are in compliance with Code requirements and to investigate complaints.
- Family Day System/Homes - The Code of Virginia requires licensure of any person who approves family day care homes as a member of its system and who refers children to available day care homes in that system.
The system refers children to member homes, as well as provides the operators with training, technical assistance and consultation, inspection, supervision, and monitoring. The system is also responsible for referring children to available health and social services.
The system is inspected at least twice a year by licensing inspectors. Regulations require the system to visit member homes quarterly (two visits must be unannounced) to ensure compliance with the system's policies and procedures. Licensing inspectors may make unannounced visits to member homes at any time.
A member home of a system may provide child day care for a maximum of 12 children. The operator of the home is subject to the same requirements for criminal record checks, child abuse/neglect central registry checks, and tuberculosis screenings as a licensed family day home provider.
licensed Family Day Home System in Virginia is operated by Infant/Toddler Family Day Care. More information about this system can be found on their website, http://www.infanttoddler.com
Family Day Homes
- Family day home care is the most common form of child care in this country, especially for younger children. Parents may choose family child care for its intimate, home-like setting, flexible hours, consistency of care-giver, and small group size.
The Code of Virginia mandates the licensure of family day homes that provide care for six to twelve children (exclusive of the provider's own children and any children who reside in the home). The care may be offered in the home of the provider or in the home of any of the children in care.
During the (less than 24 hour) absence of a parent or guardian, the licensed family day home provider assumes responsibility for the supervision, protection, and well-being of a child under 13 years of age.
Licensing standards, which are proposed by the State Board of Social Services and enforced by the Division of Licensing Programs, ensure that the activities, services, and facilities of the family day home are conducive to the welfare of the children in care.
Voluntary Registered Family Day Homes
- Voluntary Registration is a form of regulation offered to family day homes that are not required to be licensed. These homes have fewer than six children in care, not including provider's own children and any children who reside in the home. Voluntary registration is not available in areas where local ordinances regulate unlicensed providers (Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria). The program is administered by four agencies
that have contracted with the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) to perform this function in a specific area of the state.
To register, a family day home provider pays a contracting agency $50.00 for a two-year certificate. All adult residents of the applicant's household must undergo a criminal history background check, child abuse registry clearance and a tuberculosis screening at the time of their initial application and subsequent renewals. Assistants and/or substitutes must complete a health and safety checklist assessing the home and personal qualifications.
The contract agency makes a home inspection to make sure basic child safeguards are adequate. Upon recommendation by the contract agency, VDSS' Commissioner then issues them a two-year certificate of registration. During two-year period, the contracting agency and VDSS licensing staff monitor a small sample of registered homes for compliance with staffing requirements and a health and safety checklist.
Training and Development
For more information:
Pembroke Office Park
291 Independence Boulevard
Pembroke IV Office Building, Suite 300
Virginia Beach, VA 23462-5496
Phone: (757) 491-3990
Ask for the Child Care Licensing Division