Benefits of Licensed Child Care

As a parent seeking child care options in Virginia, it’s important to understand the differences between licensed and unlicensed child care. These differences directly impact the quality, safety, and overall well-being of your child:

1) Licensing and Regulation

  • Licensed Child Care: Licensed child care providers in Virginia have undergone a thorough process of meeting specific standards and regulations set by the state. This process includes inspections, background checks, and compliance with health, safety, and educational requirements.
  • Unlicensed Child Care: Unlicensed child care, on the other hand, operates without the same level of oversight and regulation. Providers may not have met the state’s standards for safety, staff qualifications, and educational programming.

2) Quality and Accountability:

  • Licensed Child Care: Licensed child care programs are held to higher standards that prioritize the well-being and development of children. These programs are accountable to health and safety regulations enforced by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Licensing indicates a commitment to maintaining a safe and enriching environment for children.
  • Unlicensed Child Care: Unlicensed providers may lack the same level of accountability. Without state oversight, there’s a higher risk of variability in the quality of care and adherence to safety standards.

3) Health and Safety:

  • Licensed Child Care: Licensed providers undergo inspections to ensure that the facility, equipment, and practices meet state standards for cleanliness, safety, and emergency preparedness.
  • Unlicensed Child Care: While some unlicensed providers may still prioritize safety and cleanliness, the lack of regulation can result in potential gaps in emergency procedures and safety protocols.

4) Educational Programming:

  • Licensed Child Care: Licensed child care programs often offer structured educational activities that support children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. These programs are designed to promote learning and school readiness.
  • Unlicensed Child Care: Unlicensed providers may not adhere to the same educational standards. The absence of licensing doesn’t guarantee access to age-appropriate educational experiences.

5) Peace of Mind:

  • Licensed Child Care: Choosing a licensed child care provider offers parents peace of mind, knowing their child is in an environment that meets state-regulated safety and quality standards.
  • Unlicensed Child Care: Opting for unlicensed child care carries more uncertainty, as the provider’s adherence to safety and quality standards may not be as consistent or guaranteed.

Child Care Licensing—Inspections

The Virginia Department of Education inspections licensed programs prior to operation, twice per year for unannounced inspections, as needed for program development, and in response to complaints.

Religious Exempt Child Day Centers

  • May be inspected by VDOE to determine compliance with the Code of Virginia.
  • At minimum, inspected when there is a report of a complaint and/or allegation.
  • If the religious exempt center is a subsidy vendor, a minimum of one unannounced health and safety inspection per year.

Voluntarily Registered Family Day Homes

  • Inspect by VDOE prior to receiving initial certificate and prior to renewing certification.
  • Inspected when there is a report of a complaint and/or allegation.
  • Annual monitoring inspections are conducted on a random sampling of homes by contract agency staff and/or VDOE staff.
  • Voluntarily registered family day homes that are subsidy vendors receive a minimum of one unannounced health and safety inspection per year.

Visit the VDOE website to learn more about the benefits of Licensed Child Care!

Did you know…You can review a provider’s inspection records and check their subsidy status on the Department of Social Services website!

Click here when you’re ready to start searching for child care!