Are you a Virginia resident looking to start a family daycare or child care center? While it’s a lengthy process, you will be satisfied with the outcome in the end being able to own your own business that helps children to learn and grow.
Start a family-based or center-based daycare in Virginia by following these 6 steps.
- Recognize whether your daycare is license exempt or not.
- If your daycare must be licensed, follow the necessary procedures.
- Become a Virginia Child Care Subsidy Program vendor.
- Hire staff and train your staff.
- Physically set up your facility.
- Enroll children into your daycare program and choose your grand opening day.
Be diligent in the process, use your resources, and you will be a Virginia daycare provider in no time!
Virginia Daycare Market Overview
Daycare costs are relatively high in Virginia, and they are some of the highest in the country. To lower the burden on lower-income families in need of childcare, you can connect them to the Virginia Child Care Subsidy Program that can pay part of their weekly daycare costs.
The Economic Policy Institute found in August 2019 that infant care costs about $14,603 annually ($1,172 monthly cost) as toddler care for children aged 4 is about $10,687 annually ($906 monthly cost). That rivals the average annual cost for college expenses and even housing costs.
For more information on the daycare market in Virginia, visit ABC 13 News.
Recognize Whether Your Daycare is License Exempt or Not
Recognizing whether your daycare is license exempt or not is determined by the amount of children that you wish to have enrolled at your home or center-based facility.
If you are caring for less than 4 children aged 2 or younger that are not related to the family biologically, through marriage, or by adoption, your family daycare does not have to be licensed. However, your business must be regulated. An inspector will come visit your home facility to be sure that health, safety, and spatial standards are being met for proper operations.
If you are caring for more than 4 children in this age group plus your own children at home simultaneously, you must undergo licensing to operate lawfully in the state of Virginia. The inspector that visits your home will let you know your maximum child capacity based on the amount of space each child must have as set forth by the Virginia government regulations. Once you reach this maximum, you must move to a larger facility or wait until a child un-enrolls to be able to accept more children into your facility.
If Your Daycare Needs Licensing, Follow These Steps
If you are starting out small with less than 4 children at your home daycare, that’s good for you! However, if you are looking to expand and become more profitable in your daycare business venture, it’s time to get your Virginia facility licensed.
Go through this checklist to receive licensure. For more information on Virginia daycare licensure, visit the Virginia Department of Social Services.
- Review the written steps for licensure at the link above.
- Attend the required Pre-Licensure Orientation training.
- Follow the licensure steps specific to your type of facility. There is a set of steps for family-based facilities and center-based locations.
- Fill out the licensure application that matches your facility type.
- Undergo the facility inspection by a certified inspector.
- Complete background checks and fingerprinting for all of your staff.
Become a Virginia Child Care Subsidy Vendor
To become a child care subsidy vendor for your Virginia daycare, follow these steps.
- Complete the vendor subsidy orientation.
- Finish and submit the vendor subsidy application packet.
- Include all the required documentation with your application.
- An acceptable document showing your operating status.
- Form W-9 and other supporting IRS documents.
- A copy of Professional Development Certificate of Completion of VA Preservice Training for Child Care Staff.
- Undergo the subsidy vendor monitoring pre-approval inspection and the yearly inspection.
- Expect a 45-day turnover for being approved or denied as a subsidy vendor.
Hire and Train Your Staff Members
Hire staff members that will bring experience and quality to the table at your daycare facility.
- Associates and/or Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education or related field.
- 2 or more years of child care experience whether at home or at another daycare facility.
- The ability to monitor, redirect, and engage their students.
For Teacher’s Aides:
- Currently pursuing or already has an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education or related field.
- 1 or more years of child care experience at home or at another facility.
- The ability to assist and support Teachers in the classroom to engage students.
For Substitute Teacher’s Aides:
- The same main requirements as Teacher’s Aides.
- The ability to have a flexible schedule to accommodate unexpected call outs and be able to fill in as a substitute to help maintain teacher to child ratios at all times.
Once you have hired all of your staff members, have them complete the free 10-hour Virginia Department of Social Services health and safety training to prepare them for anything as they work in your facility. Staff members will learn:
- Transportation safety.
- Emergency preparedness.
- Proper infant care.
- Shaken Baby Syndrome and SIDS.
- Food safety and allergic reactions.
- Child development information and strategies.
- How to include all children in the classroom.
- And more!
The training can be completed prior to opening day or it can be incorporated into their usual work day for a more enriched dual learning experience.
Each staff member can split up the courses into 2 hour segments to finish the whole course within one 5-day work week. The best time to have staff complete the training is during nap time as each teacher and aide in the classroom takes their lunch breaks.
Find out more information and access the free courses here.
Physically Set Up Your Facility
Get your facility physically set up as your licensure paperwork is being approved and you are waiting on your home or center inspection. Follow this checklist to be sure you cover all the furnishing requirements before opening day.
- Choose an office supplies vendor for pens, printer paper, and printer ink for your daycare office.
- Choose a high-quality work desk that makes you look professional when people enter your facility.
- Find the business telephone you will use at your facility. Get a wireless to be able to take the phone with you as you walk around the daycare regularly to check on everyone in the classrooms.
- Purchase daycare furniture whether new from a furniture store or department store or gently used from a private seller or a thrift store. Just be sure any gently used furniture is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use.
- Get enough cubbies to accommodate toy storage, game activities, and craft activities. Enlist suggestions from your staff to see how they personally wish to organize their classrooms, so you can purchase the storage furniture with your employees in mind.
- Purchase age appropriate toys for each classroom or receive gently used donations from parents of the enrolled children or from other connections. Be sure that any gently used donations are properly disinfected before being given to the children.
Enrol Children and Choose Your Grand Opening Day
This last step is going to be the most joyous for you and your staff. Come to an agreement with your staff about the daycare’s opening day. Meanwhile, it’s time to enrol the children. Follow these steps for enrollment.
- Pass out flyers to local businesses that allow the soliciting to get the word out about your daycare. Try laundromats, public libraries, or children’s stores with community bulletin boards.
- Create social media pages for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use Facebook as your main social media page to get the most possible exposure for enrollment.
- Host a tour day for all interested parents and children to receive a tour of your facility at the same time.
- Answer questions at the end of the tour to reinforce parent engagement.
- Offer paper enrollment forms at the end of the tour.
- Take down parents’ phone numbers to send the enrollment forms as another option.
- Follow up with the parents within 3-7 days after the tour via email and a phone call to see if they are interested in enrolling their children at your facility.
- Cap your enrollment once you reach the capacity set forth by your licensing inspector. Any applications received after the cap must be put on the waiting list until a child discontinues their current enrollment or if you move to a larger facility to accommodate more children.
Establish Your Child Care Destiny
If caring for children is your passion, then becoming a Daycare Owner could be the best bet for you! Find people with a like-minded passion in your Virginia community to be your staff and your facility will soar high in changing the lives of many children in your local area.
- Why is it important for staff to undergo the free 10-hour Virginia Department of Social Services training?
All your staff members should undergo this free training to:
- Become a higher-quality child care provider.
- Enrich their knowledge on child care.
- Become their best at engaging and caring for children.
- Know the regulations and requirements for being in this profession.
- What emergencies could happen while working at a daycare?
Many possible emergencies could occur at a daycare. This is why every daycare should have an emergency preparedness plan in their daycare handbook. Emergencies that could happen while working at daycare include:
- Flooding rain storms.
- Intruder invasions.
- Gun threats.
- Forest fires (if located near the woods)
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
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