Virginia Child Care Providers—Licensing

While Child Care Aware of Virginia only refers families to regulated child care programs, not all providers in the state are Licensed.  Child care centers and family day home providers who are licensed by the Virginia Department of Education are required to have regular, unannounced inspections to ensure health and safety measures are in place. See the information below to learn the differences in the levels of oversight and regulation in Virginia.

Child Care Centers

Unlicensed, Unregulated Child Care Center

Unlicensed and unregulated child day care programs do not have any statewide oversight or regulation.  Unlicensed and unregulated child day care programs do not have to follow the state requirements for:

  • Staff background checks
  • Staff training and orientation
  • Health and safety requirements

These programs are not inspected by the Virginia Department of Education.

Licensed Child Care Center

Licensed child day care programs are inspected at least twice a year.  Licensed child care centers are required by the state to:

  • Perform full background checks on all staff
  • Complete continuing education requirements each year
  • Follow health and safety requirements (including maintaining First Aid/CPR certification for all staff)

These programs receive twice yearly random inspections by the Virginia Department of Education.

Religiously Exempt Child Care Center

Child care centers operated by religious institutions may be exempt from licensure.  Religiously exempt child care centers are required by the state to:

  • Perform full background checks on all staff
  • Follow some health and safety requirements
  • Not all staff required to be First Aid/CPR certified

The Virginia Department of Education does not inspect these programs unless there is a complaint, or the program is approved to accept child care subsidy payments.

Family Day Homes

Unlicensed, Unregulated Family Day Home

Unlicensed and unregulated family day homes do not have any statewide oversight or regulations.  Unlicensed and unregulated family day homes do not  have to follow state requirements for:

  • Staff background checks
  • Staff training and orientation
  • Health and safety requirements

These programs are not inspected by the Virginia Department of Education.

Licensed Family Day Home

A license is required for any home-based provider caring for 5 or more children.  Licensed family day homes may care for a maximum of 12 children and are required by the state to:

  • Complete full background checks on everyone aged 18+ living in the home or working for/with the provider
  • Complete continuing education requirements each year
  • Follow health and safety requirements (including maintaining First Aid/CPR certification)

These homes receive twice yearly random inspections by the Virginia Department of Education.

Voluntarily Registered or Local Ordinance Family Day Homes

Voluntary Registration or Local Ordinance is a form of regulation available to family day homes who cannot become licensed due to zoning, or choose not to become licensed.  Voluntarily registered or local ordinance family day homes may care for a maximum of 4 children and are required by the state to:

  • Complete full background checks on everyone aged 18+ living in the home or working for/with the provider
  • Follow some health and safety requirements (not required to be First Aid/CPR certified)

The Virginia Department of Education does not regularly inspect these providers unless there is a complaint, or the program is approved to accept child care subsidy payments.

Did you know…

You can see the results of a provider’s inspection records and subsidy status on the Department of Social Services website.