If a religious institution meets certain requirements and operates a child care program, they are exempt from licensure, but must be approved as a religiously-exempt center. Programs must submit a statement of intent, evidence of tax exempt status, results of local health department and fire marshal inspection results, and certification of the following: the center has informed guardians in writing that the center is exempt from licensure and that information is posted on the premises, employees meet required professional qualifications and are in good health required to provide care for children, the center meets staff-child ratio requirements, and the center is aware of and will abide by basic health and safety requirements.
The VDOE Office of Child Care Health and Safety will conduct inspections to monitor the RECDC’s compliance with Code requirements, investigate complaints of alleged noncompliance with Code requirements, and, if a program participates in the Child Care Subsidy Program, monitor compliance with subsidy health and safety inspection requirements.
This documentation must be submitted annually to renew. Religiously-exempt centers may receive unannounced compliance visits.
Steps for Getting Started:
- Review Code of Virginia regarding religiously-exempt centers and information about background checks for child day programs.
- Complete a statement of intent and submit the completed statement and all required attachments through the online portal. Refer to this quick reference guide for step-by-step instructions on using the online portal. If you are unable to access the online portal or encounter difficulties using the online portal, please contact the Office of Child Care Health and Safety in your region. Application should be submitted 30-60 days prior to your opening date. The following documents are required to be submitted with your application:
- Evidence that the religious institution has tax exempt status as a nonprofit religious institution in accordance with § 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, or that the real property owned and exclusively occupied by the religious institution is exempt from local taxation.
- Certificate of use and occupancy
- Environmental health inspection, and if applicable a food establishment inspection (completed within the last 90 days)
- Fire inspection (completed within the last 90 days)
- Staff-Child Ratio Information Sheet
- Staff Health Report for each staff
- Public Disclosure Statement or other proof that the following aspects of the child day center’s operations are described in a written statement to the parents or guardians of the children in the center and made available to the public: physical facilities, enrollment capacity, food services, health requirements for the staff and public liability insurance
- Proof that a person trained and certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be present at the child day center whenever children are present or at any other location in which children attending the child day center are present
- Ensure you are complying with all background check requirements
- Submit a statement of intent along with the following supporting documentation:
- Certification that the center has disclosed to parents or guardians in writing that the center is exempt from licensure, and has posted such information in a visible location on the premises (see model disclosure form);
- Certification that employees meet the required professional qualifications and are in good health required to provide care for children (see model form for staff health report);
- Evidence of tax-exempt status as a nonprofit religious institution under § 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, or that the real property owned and exclusively occupied by the religious institution is exempt from local taxation;
- Local health department and fire marshal inspection results
- Certification that the center meets certain staff-child ratio requirements (model form); and Certification that the center is aware of and will abide by the basic health and safety requirements in § 22.1-289.031.
Visit the VDOE website for more information about this process and the documents required to be a religiously-exempt center here.