Q:

What are the differences between licensed and unlicensed daycares in Virginia?

A:

A license is not required for operating a legal daycare in Virginia. Daycares in Virginia may be based out of a home or a center, with or without a license. However, daycares in Virginia must be regulated, or approved by local rather than state agencies.

Daycares licensed in the state of Virginia must meet the standards of the State Board of Social Services, which are enforced by the Virginia Department of Social Services through scheduled and unscheduled inspections. Regulations for licensure cover such issues as immunizations and physicals for children, tuberculosis screening for employees, and the physical and mental health of staff and volunteers, as well as attendance records and parent agreements. Licensing dictates the level of education, credentials and experience needed by the director of the daycare, who must be over the age of 21. Program leaders must have a combination of experience and training, including classes in child development and playground safety. Daycare aides must be at least 16 years of age. Anyone in the daycare who administers medication to children must complete a training program approved by the Board of Nursing. In order to obtain the state license, all employees and volunteers must pass a criminal background check.

Because of its lax licensing requirements for daycares, Virginia is at the bottom of a national ranking by Child Care Aware, a national child care information resource.

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