Virginia Childcare
State Requirements

Worker Qualifications

Program Leaders: Must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. If hired or promoted after 11/1/93, must also have an endorsement or BA in a child- related field; or 48 semester hours from accredited college or university, at least 12 of which are in a subject relating to group care of children and 6 months of age-appropriate experience; or a 1 year early childhood certificate from an accredited college or university of at least 30 semester hours and 6 months of age-appropriate experience; or a CDA credential or equivalent; or one year age appropriate program experience in group care and participation in a staff training plan of at least 10 hours in first year of employment.

Not all child day care programs in Virginia are required to be licensed. 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.

There are two types of child day care programs: Out-of-home care (Center-Based) and in-home care (Family-Based) in a private home.
These two types of care can be further broken down into:

Unlicensed (but regulated)
Approved; and
Unlicensed and Unregistered

Licensed child day care programs are inspected at least twice per year. They have requirements for background checks, training/orientation, and health and safety.

Note: Some programs offering child day care obtain a general business license to operate from the county within which they do business; however, that license is not the same as a child day care license obtained from the Virginia Department of Education, which holds the child day care provider accountable to the health and safety standards set forth by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Unlicensed but Regulated child day care programs vary in their requirements.

Voluntarily registered family day homes are required to be inspected prior to certification, and every two years thereafter, to complete background checks and meet certain health and safety standards.

Religiously exempt child day centers are required to complete background checks and must self-certify annually that the program is in compliance with background checks and health and safety requirements.
Certified preschools are operated by an accredited private school and are required to complete background checks and must self-certify prior to certification, and annually thereafter, regarding criminal record clearances on all employees, a list of staff qualifications, and health and fire inspection reports.

Religious exempt child day centers and certified preschool programs are not inspected by VDSS unless there is a complaint.

Approved child day care programs are regulated by an entity other than VDSS. These programs include certain northern Virginia localities - Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax who have the authority to approve by local ordinance certain family day homes and child day centers.

Unlicensed and unregistered child day care programs do not have any of the following requirements: background checks, training/orientation, or health and safety requirements; and only minimal Code of Virginia requirements. Unlicensed centers must meet an exemption in the Code of Virginia in § 63.2-1715. Unlicensed family day homes must follow requirements in §§ 63.2-1727 and 63.2-1704.1 of the Code. VDSS does not inspect these programs.

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, Child Care Aware of Virginia can help.

Provider /Child Ratio

Age Range Ratios for Center-based Care in Virginia State
Infants - 16 months (1:4)
16 months - 2 years(1:5)
2 years (1:8)
3 - 5 years (1:10)
schoolage - 8 years (1:18)
9 - 12 years (1:20)
Mixed age group ratio for youngest child in group
Age Range Ratios For Family Child Care in Virginia State
0 - 15 months (1:4)
16 - 23 months (1:5)
2 - 4 years (1:8)
5 - 9 years (1:16)
10 years and older these children shall not count in determining any ratio
Mixed age group a point system shall be applied to determine the need for an assistant

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 Education 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.

Contact Information

Child Care Licensing Agency
Licensing Offices (PDF)
Virginia Department of Education
James Monroe Building
101 N. 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219-1849
TOLL FREE: (833)-778-0204
Phone: (804) 225-2023
Virginia Daycare Listings  

Child Care Subsidy Agency
Licensing Offices (PDF)
Virginia Department of Education
James Monroe Building
101 N. 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219-1849 
TOLL FREE: (833)-778-0204
Phone: (804) 225-2023

Head Start - State Collaboration Office
Division of Child Care and Development
7 North Eighth Street, 6th Floor
Richmond, VA, 23219-3301
Phone: (804) 726-7640
Fax: (804) 726-7655

Child Care Food Program Administrator
Mercer Corporate Park
300 Corporate Boulevard
Robbinsville, New Jersey 08691-1598
Phone: (609) 259-5050
Fax: (609) 259-5128

Child Care Resource and Referral Contact
Virginia Child Care Resource & Referral Network
308 Turner Road, Suite A
Richmond, VA 23225
Phone: (804) 285-0846
Toll Free: (866) 481-1913
Fax: (804) 285-0847

Office of Child Support Enforcement
Division of Child Support Enforcement
7 N. Eighth St., 1st Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (800) 257-9986
Fax: (804) 726-7476

Child Abuse Reporting Hotline
To report suspected child abuse in Virginia, call (800) 552-7096.

For national child abuse information, call the Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline (staffed 24 hours daily with professional crisis counselors): 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-2-A-CHILD (T.D.D)

Home        Login      Sign-Up          Forum        Toys & Products        About Us