Translation Disclaimer

parents_icon
Parents

Why Quality Matters

All parents want to support their child’s health, happiness and development. Choosing quality child care is an excellent way to do this! A quality child care program promotes a safe, fun environment where children can PLAY, LEARN and LAUGH!

Research tells us that 90% of brain development occurs in the first five years of life, and what children experience in these early years (see, hear, smell, taste and feel) shapes their brains. High quality child care programs feature enriched experiences that are linked to greater achievement and success in school and in life.


Kid Talk 2 - Importance of Quality Care

Benefits of Quality Child Care:

  • Impact how children learn, think, develop and behave
  • Promote social and emotional skills
  • Encourage curiosity and cultivate a love of learning
  • Prepare children for school

Indicators of Quality Child Care

  • Relationships and Interactions

    Skillful adults provide warm, responsive relationships that foster confidence as they respond to children’s needs consistently. Adults engage in culturally and linguistically appropriate conversations with the children, and are respectful and supportive of each child and their family.

  • Staff Qualifications and Training

    Knowledgeable adults structure the environment to provide maximum opportunities for children to learn.  Teachers who are better prepared are more likely to engage in positive interactions, plan developmentally appropriate activities, and use feedback to develop strong relationships.

  • Play and Learning:

    The curriculum is age appropriate, supported by a variety of toys and materials, and promotes learning and development in all areas. There is a written plan that outlines the educational goals, activities, materials, assessment, and daily schedule.

  • Health and Safety

    A quality child care program puts health and safety first. The environment is organized, clean and safe (inside and out), toys and equipment are monitored and cleaned daily, and safe health practices, such as hand washing, are consistently followed. A high quality program will also promote nutrition and exercise to support healthy development.

  • Low Ratios and Group Size

    The number of children a caregiver is responsible for can be described as a ratio. A 3:1 ratio means there are 3 children per caregiver. Group size refers to the total number of children per class, program or home. Typically the fewer the children in relation to caregivers, the greater the supervision.

Choosing Quality Child Care

Choosing quality child care is one of the most important decisions you will ever make as a parent.

To learn more about choosing a quality child care program in Virginia, visiting programs, making observations and asking the right questions, view our Quality Childcare Brochure (English), (Spanish)

What is Virginia Quality

Virginia Quality is a program that assesses, improves and communicates the level of quality in child care centers and pre-schools. Programs that are in good standing with their regulatory authority voluntarily commit to continuous quality improvement to better serve the children in their care. To learn more about Virginia Quality:

Parent Rack Card Parent Rack Card (Spanish) Virginia Quality Info Sheet (Spanish) Search for a Virginia Quality-rated Program

Read More

Benefits of Licensed Child Care

What is the difference between licensed versus unlicensed and unregistered care?

Licensed child day care programs can be offered in a child day center or in a family day home.  They have an initial inspection and two unannounced inspections per year.  Additional inspections are conducted as a result of violations and/or complaints. They have requirements for background checks, education, training/orientation, and health and safety standards.

Unlicensed and unregistered child day care programs do not have any of the following requirements or safeguards to protect vulnerable children: background checks, training/orientation, or health and safety requirements; and only minimal Code of Virginia requirements apply.

Why should I use a licensed care provider?

Choosing quality child care is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a parent. Licensing is the first step in quality care. Quality child care impacts how children learn, think, develop and behave; promotes social and emotional skills; promotes self-esteem and confidence; encourages curiosity and love of learning; prepares children for school; strengthens math and reading skills; and increases probability of attending college.

When you select a licensed care provider in Virginia, you are selecting a qualified professional in the field of early education with a commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for children by demonstrating compliance with regulations.

Who inspects early care and education programs?

The Virginia Department of Social Services inspects licensed programs prior to operation, twice per year for unannounced inspections, as needed for program development, and in response to complaints.
Regulated programs that are unlicensed are inspected accordingly:

Religious Exempt child day centers are inspected by VDSS when there is a report of a complaint and/or allegation.

Voluntarily Registered homes are inspected by VDSS prior to issuance of an initial certificate and prior to issuing a renewal inspection.  Registered homes are 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 Virginia Department of Social Services staff.

Family Day System is operated by Infant/Toddler Family Day Care and they are inspected by VDSS.  Individual family day homes approved under the umbrella of the system are directly inspected by the family day system on a quarterly basis to ensure compliance with the system's policies and procedures. At least two visits are required to be unannounced.

How do I find out about inspection reports or violations?

Inspection reports are available for licensed and religious exempt child day centers, licensed and voluntarily registered family day homes, and certified preschools. Click here.

To view inspection reports enter the necessary information of the facility or home and activate the search, the programs information will be displayed. In addition to the program’s contact information, the assigned inspector and license information is displayed.

Inspection reports are posted with the most recent inspection displayed first. Details of the inspection reports highlights the areas reviewed, technical assistance provided during the inspection, and the inspector’s comments. Specific information on violations are available and include specific standard numbers, description of the violation, and the center’s response and/or corrective action if provided.

Parents who would like to file a complaint regarding a violation of a health and safety standard and/or citizens who would like to report an allegation of an illegally operating facility may do so by completing the Division of Licensing – Children’s Programs - Online Complaint form or by calling (800) 543-7545.

How can I tell if a child care program is operating illegally?

A child day provider may have a business license issued by a locality, but a business license is not the same as a license issued by the Department of Social Services.

Child day centers are child day programs offered to (i) two or more children under the age of 13 years in a facility that is not the residence of the provider or of any of the children in care or (ii) 13 or more children at any location. 

Child day centers must be either licensed or exempt from licensure.

A center may be operating illegally if:

  • A current exemption letter cannot be produced; or
  • There are more children in care than are allowed by the license or exemption letter.

Ask the center to show you their license or letter of exemption letter issued by VDSS. 

Licensed family day homes may provide care for five to twelve children (exclusive of the provider's own children and any children who reside in the home) when at least one child receives care for compensation. The care may be offered in the home of the provider or in the home of any of the children in care.

A family day home may be operating illegally if:

  • A current license cannot be produced;
  • The provider or someone who resides in the home is identified as a sex offender or child abuser;
  • There are more children in care than are allowed by the license; or
  • There are more than four children under the age of two, including the provider’s own children or any children who reside in the home.

Ask the family day home provider to show you their license issued by VDSS.

Voluntarily Registered family day homes are not required to be licensed, but may choose to be registered. These homes have fewer than five children in care, not including the provider's own children and any children who reside in the home. Voluntary registration is not available in areas where local ordinances regulate unlicensed providers (Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria).
A voluntarily registered family day home may be operating illegally if:

  • A current registration certificate cannot be produced;
  • The provider or someone who resides in the home is identified as a child abuser or is registered as a sex offender;
  • There are more children in care than are allowed by the registration certificate; or
  • The program is located at a different address from the one listed on the certificate.

Ask the family day home provider to show you their voluntary registration certificate issued by VDSS.

Certified preschoolsoperated by private schools that are accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the State Board of Education are allowed by Section 63.2-1717 of the Code of Virginia to be exempt from licensure.

A certified preschool may be operating illegally if:

  • A current certificate cannot be produced; or
  • The program does not meet the requirements in the Code of Virginia.

Ask the preschool to show you their certificate issued by VDSS.


Read More

Child Care & Early Learning Options

A child day care program in Virginia refers to a regularly operating service arrangement for children where, during the absence of a parent or guardian, a person or organization has agreed to assume responsibility for the supervision, protection and well-being of a child under the age of 13 for less than a 24-hour period.

There are two types of child day programs in Virginia: child day centers (center-based) and family day homes (family-based).

Categories of care include:

  • Licensed
  • Unlicensed (but regulated) 
  • Approved
  • Unlicensed and Unregistered

Although, choosing a licensed provider is strongly encouraged, not all programs require licensure. If you are unsure about the type of care you are receiving, ask your provider if they are licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). Licensed programs are required to display their license certificate. Look for this license certificate to be visibly displayed near the entrance.

Educating yourself on available care options, and knowing what to look for when selecting a program, are essential to your child’s well-being. Search for child day care.

Licensed - When you select a licensed care provider in Virginia, you are selecting a qualified professional in the field of early education with a commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for children by demonstrating compliance with regulations. Licensed child day care programs can be offered in a child day center or in a family day home. 

Licensed child care programs have an initial inspection and two unannounced inspections per year. Additional inspections are made as a result of violations, allegations and/or complaints. Requirements include background checks, education, training/orientation, and health and safety standards. The number of children allowed in licensed care varies per center or family day home - based on determining factors such as the total square footage in centers and adequate space in homes. The maximum capacity can be identified on the provider’s posted license certificate. Click the program you are interested in for further information.

Licensed

Center-Based Family-Based
Child Day Center    Short-Term Child Day Center Family Day Home
Unlicensed (but regulated) - Some programs offering child day care obtain a general business license to operate from the county within which they do business; however, that license is not the same as a child day care license obtained from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), which holds the child day care provider accountable to the health and safety standards set forth by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

 

Unlicensed (but regulated) child care programs vary in their requirements.  These programs are not licensed by VDSS, but do receive oversight in certain areas. For example:

  • Voluntarily registered family day homes are required to be inspected prior to certification, and every two years thereafter, to complete background checks and meet certain health and safety standards. 
  • Religiously exempt child care centers are required to complete background checks and must self-certify annually that the program is in compliance with background checks and health and safety requirements.
  • Certified preschools are operated by an accredited private school and are required to complete background checks and must self-certify prior to certification, and annually thereafter, regarding criminal record clearances on all employees, a list of staff qualifications, and health and fire inspection reports.

Religiously exempt child care centers and certified pre-school programs are not inspected by VDSS unless there is a complaint. Click the program you are interested in for further information.

Unlicensed but Regulated

Center-Based Family-Based
Religiously Exempt Child Day Centers     Certified Preschools Voluntary Registered    Family Day System

Approved child day care programs are regulated by an entity other than VDSS. These programs include certain northern Virginia localities - Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax who have the authority to approve by local ordinance certain family day homes and child day centers.

Approved

Center-Based

Family-Based

Approved by Local Ordinance
(Arlington)

Approved by Local Ordinance
(Alexandria)
(Arlington)
(Fairfax County)

Unlicensed and unregistered - child day care programs do not have any of the following requirements or safeguards to protect vulnerable children: background checks, training/orientation, or health and safety requirements; and only minimal Code of Virginia requirements apply.
  • The Virginia Department of Social Services does not inspect these programs and often times these programs are unknown to the Department.
  • Unlicensed and unregistered centers must meet an exemption in the Code of Virginia in § 63.2-1715.  For example, this program may be an after school program centered around a particular extra-curricular or sports-related activity.

Unlicensed and unregistered family day homes typically known as your family, friend or neighbor provide care in their home or the home of the child. They must follow the Code of Virginia requirements in §§ 63.2-1727, which prohibit the caregiver from being a sex offender or child abuser, and 63.2-1704.1, which requires the caregiver to provide in writing a notice to the parent stating that their child care program is not regulated by the Department and to refer parents to the Department’s website for information explaining the various types of child care options. 

If you suspect that a child day care program is operating illegally, you can file an Online Complaint form or call (800) 543-7545.

Unlicensed and Unregistered

Center-Based

Family-Based

License Exempt Centers

Family Day Home


Read More

Finding Child Care

How do I Find High Quality Child Care?

Virginia Quality is a program that assesses, improves and communicates the level of quality in child care centers and pre-schools. Programs that are in good standing with their regulatory authority voluntarily commit to continuous quality improvement to better serve the children in their care. To search for a Virginia Quality rated program, click here.

Search for Child Care

The “Search for Child Care” webtool provides facility information and inspection reports for licensed and religiously exempt child  care centers, licensed and voluntarily registered family day homes and certified pre-schools.

Information provided includes:

  1. Type of facility 
  2. Facility name, address and telephone number
  3. Expiration date of license, exemption or certification
  4. Name of the administrator or director (if applicable)
  5. Hours of operation
  6. Approved capacity (maximum number of children allowed in care)
  7. Age range for which care is provided
  8. VDSS inspector name and telephone number
  9. Inspection dates and reports, as well as the facility’s plan of correction (where applicable)

If you would like personal assistance in finding child care, contact Child Care Aware of Virginia at 866-543-7852.

Need help using the “Search for Child Care” webtool?

  • Less is more!
    • Search using the most distinctive part of the facility’s name. For example, “Jonah’s Little Whales” might have been entered in the database as “Jonahs Little Whales.” If the name isn’t typed into the search page exactly as it is spelled in the database, including spaces and punctuation, the search will be unsuccessful.  Try searching with just the word Jonah or even Jona, omitting whatever comes after the punctuation. If there are several facilities with similar names, search for only the part of the name that is different.
    • Try different spellings: for example, Kids, Kidz, Kids’, or Kid’s.
    • If the facility’s name includes multiple words combined into one, try searching using only part of the name (for example, Honey instead of HoneyPots).
    • If you entered the name, location and zip code and don’t find what you are looking for, search again using only ONE of those criteria.
  • The search results will display the facility’s name, address, and phone number. Click on the facility’s/provider’s name to see additional information, including inspection dates.
  • Click on an inspection date to see the inspection summary and violations (if any) for that date. You may also click on “Yes” in the “Violations” column to go directly to the “Violations” section of the inspection results. Both methods will take you to the same page of inspection reports.
  • Call the licensing inspector if you have questions not addressed on the report.

Read More

Paying For Child Care

Need Help Paying For Child Care?

The Virginia Department of Social Services administers the Child Care Subsidy Program which provides financial assistance to eligible families to help pay a portion of the cost of child care so they can work or participate in education or training programs. The Child Care Subsidy Program services are child-centered and family focused and support the broader objective of strengthening families’ goals of self-sufficiency and quality early childhood programs for their children.

Two ways to apply for The Child Care Subsidy Program  

  • CommonHelp  - This web-based app allows Virginians to screen for eligibility and apply for benefits and services available through VDSS.  This app may be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  To screen for eligibility and/or apply for subsidy child care assistance via CommonHelp, click here.
  • Child Care Service Application and Redetermination Form (.DOC, PDF, Spanish) - This form may be completed manually and returned to your local department of social services. You may pick up an application in the office, or request that one be mailed to you.

How the Child Care Subsidy Program Works

The Child Care Subsidy Program helps low income families pay their child care fees so they can work or participate in education or training programs. You may screen for your potential eligibility and/or apply for assistance online at: CommonHealth. Your application will be reviewed within 30 days. During that time, you may be required to participate in an interview and provide verification of income, employment and/or participation in an education or training program, in addition to other required documents. 

If you are eligible, and are approved for services, your local department will authorize care for your children with a VDSS Subsidy-approved child care provider of your choice, and VDSS will pay a part of the child care cost directly to your provider. This is called a subsidy payment. You may also be required to pay a part of the cost; this is called the family co-pay. The subsidy payment and the family co-pay go directly to your chosen child care provider.

If your child care subsidy does not pay the full amount that your child care provider charges, you may be required to pay the difference between the subsidy payment and their private charges.

Licensed child care providers are paid by the Subsidy Program at a rate higher than the rate paid to unlicensed providers.  This difference generally reflects the higher level health and safety requirements with which the licensed providers must comply. 

Approved for a subsidy… Now What?

When you are approved for child care assistance, you will play an important part in this process. Your case manager will discuss all of your responsibilities with you.

  • Choose a provider and inform your case manager
    Once you have selected the provider that best meets your needs and the needs of your child/children, please contact your case manager so care can be authorized.
  • Participate in the Virginia Electronic Child Care System
    When you begin using your child care services, you will be required to participate in the Electronic Child Care (ECC) System. You will receive an ECC Card in the mail which must be activated, and must be used to record attendance for your child/children. You will be expected to record attendance daily with your chosen child care provider to ensure accurate and timely payment for services. To learn more about the Virginia Electronic Child Care System, view the Quick Reference Guide or watch the video.


Read More

Child Growth & Development

From birth to age 5 is an incredibly exciting time of growth and development. It is during these early years when children develop the foundations for social, emotional, physical, language and cognitive growth. During these years, you may also have many questions about your child’s development.

How do I know if my child is developing typically?

Children develop in similar patterns at similar times, and typically go through a sequence of accomplishments (crawl, stand, walk, run.) However, each child is unique and will therefore learn, grow and reach milestones according to their own timeline. Knowing when to be concerned and when not to be is important for parents and family members. Your child’s pediatrician is your partner in determining whether or not your child is developing typically. The Center for Disease Control has a wealth of information about child development and developmental milestones. To learn more, or to see how your child is progressing, click here.


Kid Tours 2 - Growth and Development

Milestones of Child Development

Virginia’s Milestones of Child Development is a comprehensive resource for family members and providers who care for young children. They focus on the observable behaviors that highlight the learning and development that occurs from birth to kindergarten, as well as recommended strategies to provide optimal learning environments and experiences. The Milestones are organized into 6 areas of children’s growth that encompass the dimensions of children’s overall development:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Approaches to learning
  • Language and literacy
  • Cognition and general knowledge
  • Fine arts, and
  • Physical development and health

All of these areas of development are interrelated, and growth in one area often influences or depends on development in other areas. No area is more important than another. To learn more about Virginia’s Milestones, click here.

Milestones in Action

This resource contains a free library of photos and videos of developmental milestones.


Who do I contact to have my child screened?

If you have concerns about your baby, and would like to request a developmental screening, you can contact the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia at 1-800-234-1448.

Early Intervention in Virginia

Early intervention services are services provided through the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) that are designed to meet the developmental needs of each child and their family, and provided in natural environments for the child (such as the home or child care setting.) Services are offered through two distinct programs: Part B (preschool children ages 3-5) and Part C (infants and toddlers ages 0-2). To learn more about Early Intervention in Virginia, click here.

Early intervention for Infants and Toddlers (Part C of IDEA)

From birth through age 2 a child is eligible to receive services if they:

  • Have delayed functioning
  • Exhibit atypical development or behavior
  • Demonstrate a behavioral disorder that interferes with development, or
  • Have a diagnosed physical or mental condition with a high probability of a resulting delay (even if no delay currently exists)

Early intervention services are provided by the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia. To learn more, determine if your child is eligible, or find your local program, click here.

Early Intervention for Preschool (Part B of IDEA)

Preschoolers may be eligible to receive early intervention services through the  Early Childhood Special Education program of the Virginia Department of Education if they have one or more of 14 disability categories such as, but not limited to:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Learning or emotional disability
  • Visual, hearing or speech impairment
  • Developmental delay

Early intervention services for preschool aged children are provided by local school districts. To learn more about early intervention for preschool children, determine if your child is eligible, or find more information on the 14 disability categories, click here.

Your rights under IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures children with disabilities receive services such as early intervention, special education, and related programs. Under this law, parents have specific special education rights, which are detailed in Virginia’s Procedural Safeguards Notice. To learn more, click here.

Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC)

The PEATC offers services and support for families as well as easy-to-understand, research-based information and training.

Early Childhood Mental Health

Early childhood is a critical time for developing the foundations for later emotional and mental wellness. Adverse experiences have the potential to affect brain development, and contribute to developmental delays. The foundations for strong mental health include a safe environment, adequate nutrition, and positive interactions with caregivers. Mental health is part of overall health; a healthy child has a healthy body and a healthy mind. To learn more about mental wellness in early childhood click here.

Fostering Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children
Milestones: Understanding Your Child’s Social and Emotional Development

Home Visiting

The Virginia Home Visiting Consortium is a group of public and non-profit programs that serve families of children from pregnancy through age 5. Their purpose is to deliver in-home parenting education and family support services that improve the health, social and educational outcomes of young children and their families. Click this link to learn more about the Home Visiting Consortium’s programs and resources.


Read More

Health & Safety

In addition to finding a child care provider who is available based on your activity schedule, it is equally important to search for a quality child care setting where health and safety are considered a priority.  A high quality child care program puts health and safety first.  The following information and links will help parents learn more about health and safety, and valuable tips and hints to ensure that their own home is just as safe.

Healthy Eating and Nutrition

The USDA provides many resources to help families explore healthy eating and tips for engaging children in the process.  Healthy habits begin at home and will stay with your children for a lifetime.  We know that life is all about choices, let’s help children start on the right foot.   Here you will find tips for becoming a role model and developing good habits.  10 Tips for Setting Good Examples

www.choosemyplate.gov  is an excellent resource to learn more about nutrition and physical activity.

Healthy eating goes hand in hand with increased physical activity for children to support growth and learning.  Good habits start early and may effect child development and success in school.  As childhood obesity rates continue to increase, it is more important than ever for everyone who comes in contact with a child to help them stay healthy and active.  LET’S MOVE!!!  Click here for additional information.

Physical Activity among People with Disabilities


Kid Tours 2 - Health and Safety

Emergency Preparedness

Be prepared.  When facing an emergency situation it is very important to remain calm to make appropriate decisions to ensure your safety.  Imagine you are a child care provider and must ensure the safety of the children in your care.  Having a well thought out plan and preparing prior to any emergency situation is key.  For additional information and resources on emergency preparedness, please click here.

Child Care Aware of VA Crisis and Disaster Resources

Caring for Children in a Disaster

Safe Sleep – SIDS

The Safe to Sleep® campaign (formerly known as Back to Sleep®) aims to educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.   About 3,500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States.  These deaths are the result of unknown causes, Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB), and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is defined as an unidentified cause of death in a baby younger than one year.  Here you will find additional information about SIDS to arm yourself with the information to keep your children safe at home and with their child care provider.  For additional information please click here.

A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep

Child Care Providers Guide to Safe Sleep

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome is a type of inflicted traumatic brain injury that happens when a baby is violently shaken.  A baby has weak neck muscles and a large, heavy head.  Shaking makes the fragile brain bounce back and forth inside the skull and causes bruising, swelling, and bleeding, which can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death.  Shaken baby injuries usually occur in children younger than 2 years old, but may be seen in children up to the age of 5.  To learn more about Shaken Baby Syndrome as well as tips for parents and providers to understand the triggers and reduce the occurrence of injury click here.

Never Shake your Baby

Low Cost Lead Test Kits

Health professionals and scientists now understand that there is no safe level of lead exposure for babies or toddlers. The best way to know if your home’s water is contaminated is to test what’s coming out of the tap. The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health has partnered with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) to make Lead in Water Action Kits available to families across America so they can test their tap water for the presence of lead. These in-home test kits will be sent to a lab at Virginia Tech for analysis, and each family will receive its test results along with a report containing actions the family can take to reduce their exposure to lead.


Read More

Resources

Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive!

Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive! is a federal effort to encourage healthy development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for children, and support for the families and providers who care for them.  Early identification allows for earlier intervention which tends to cost less and be more effective. To learn more about Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive! click here.

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFFEL)

CSEFFEL is focused on promoting the social and emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age 5 and has developed an extensive set of training materials, videos and print resources including family tools for supporting social and emotional development.

Child Care Aware

Child Care Aware of Virginia is a community-based network of early care and education specialists whose purpose is to deliver services to families, child care professionals, and communities to increase the accessibility, availability, and quality of child care in Virginia. Child Care Aware provides a referral service and information about child care for parents, as well as the opportunity to talk with experts about parenting issues. To learn more about Child Care Aware click here.

Family Readiness Kit

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently developed an updated AAP Family Readiness Kit to help families prepare to get disaster-ready.

First Things First Parent Kit

This digital Parent Kit will help you meet the challenges of being a parent and supporting the healthy development of your baby, toddler or preschooler. To learn more click here.

Head Start Early Learning & Knowledge Center

The Head Start Early Learning & Knowledge Center has a wealth of resources for families about Head Start, Early Head Start, health & safety, child development, parenting, school readiness and supporting your family’s well-being. To learn more click here.

Healthy Futures VA

Healthy Futures VA is your source for up-to-date children’s health information. View videos and text about children’s health topics or explore what happens during a child’s health care visit to a medical professional. To learn more about Healthy Futures VA click here.

Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia

The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia provides early intervention supports and services to infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 who are not developing as expected or who have a medical condition that can delay normal development. To find out more about early intervention services in Virginia, click here.

Learn the Signs. Act Early

Free tools: Track your child’s development, and photos and videos of developmental milestones. From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves. Track your child’s development and act early if you have a concern.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

The National Association for the Education of Young Children promotes high-quality learning for all children birth – age 8. This national organization accredits child care programs based on ten standards of quality that they have developed. They also offer information for families on a variety of topics related to child development and learning. To learn more about the National Association for the Education of Young Children click here.

Safe Kids Virginia

Safe Kids Virginia is your go-to source for safety information, where you will find tips from safety experts to keep kids of all ages safe from preventable injuries. To learn more click here.

Talk, Read, and Sing Together

Research-based tip sheets for families, caregivers and early learning educators to help make the most of everyday language building experiences. Downloadable resources are in English and Spanish.

Talking is Teaching

Talking is Teaching is a campaign that shares tips and great ideas to make everyday activities teaching moments by talking and/or reading and/or singing with young children. To learn more about Talking is Teaching click here.

Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network

The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network has a resource section on their website that provides information on numerous topics for families including child development, early intervention, early childhood mental health, and exceptional children. To learn more about these resources, click here.

Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time

VPOST is dedicated to developing and expanding academic, social, emotional, and physical supports and services to school-age children throughout Virginia during out-of-school time hours. They offer resources to parents on parenting and raising children, food security, summer activities, STEM, and help finding the right afterschool program. To learn more about the Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time click here.

Virginia Quality

Virginia Quality is a program that assesses, improves, and communicates the level of quality in childcare centers and preschools. Programs that are in good standing with their regulatory authority voluntarily commit to continuous quality improvement to better serve the children in their care. To search for a Virginia Quality rated program, click here.

Zero to Three

Zero to Three is a national, nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals and policy makers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development. They offer a broad range of information using tip sheets, pod casts, videos, articles and more on topics ranging from play to challenging behaviors, social-emotional development and school readiness and early learning. To learn more, click here.


Read More

Other Assistance

The Child Care Subsidy Program helps low income parents pay for child care while they work or participate in approved education or training activities. In addition to the Subsidy Program, the Commonwealth of Virginia offers numerous other programs to assist low income families in their goal of achieving self-sufficiency. To learn more, the Family Resource Reference Guide offers families a brief description of these programs and information on how to apply.

Financial Assistance

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Nutrition Assistance

  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Medical Assistance

  • Medical Assistance Programs, including CHIP, FAMIS and Medicaid
  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Services (EPSDT)

Early Childhood Resources

  • The Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI)
  • The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia
  • Virginia Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Programs

Read More

Early Childhood Development

All parents want to support their child’s health, happiness and development. Choosing quality child care is an excellent way to do this!

When looking for a child care provider, ask these questions
about the activities
that occur:
Is there dedicated outside time and indoor time?
Is there adequate supervision
at all times?
Do the
children have pretend play, music and art time?
Is there a routine but flexible schedule?
Are the
meals and snacks nutritious?
Top