State law requires that facilities operated as child day centers be licensed. Centers operated by religious institutions may, however, exercise an option to be exempt from licensing standards, provided the religious institution files certain information with the Virginia Department of Social Services. This exemption applies if the religious institution is actually operating the center, not if another entity is operating the center using its space. A list of the documents required by law for child day centers operated by religious institutions exercising the exemption option appears below.
Buildings used for child day centers must meet statewide building requirements. The local fire marshal must inspect buildings before your exemption and the buildings must meet the Uniform Statewide Building Code or the Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
The Building Code prescribes the number of exits, type of materials in fire resistant doors, etc. Also, the number and ages of the children that may be served is a part of the building inspection. The requirements will be stricter for children under 30 months of age because they would be at greater risk and more difficult to evacuate in an emergency.
Early in your planning, check to see that your building is approved for child care and that no special permit is required from the local zoning office. You may avoid costly renovations and added expense.
The local health department will regulate matters involving your kitchen and kitchen staff, water supply, sewage hookups, etc. Determine the requirements before you finalize your plans. Changing water and sewer arrangements to meet the increased load can be costly.
All persons officially involved in the operations of the facility in which the center is located must have a criminal records clearance. This includes the pastor, officers of the governing board, or board with decision-making authority over the center and other persons involved in the center's day to day operations. All other prospective employees or volunteers or any other person who is expected to be alone with one or more children enrolled in the center, must have a criminal records check and a Child Abuse or NeglectCentral Registry check.
If you decide to proceed with filing for exemption, you will need to provide the following:
- Statement of intent;
- Certification of tax Exempt Status;
- Building Inspector's Report (Certificate of Occupancy or State Fire Marshal's Report;
- Local Health Reports, which include a Report of Sanitary Inspection and if applicable, a Food Establishment Inspection Report;
- Local Fire Report;
- Verification of Required Staff-to-Child Ratios;
- Staff Health Reports; and,
- Statements of Code Compliance covering the following topics:
- Written disclosure to parents or guardians:
- of exempt status;
- of general staff qualifications;
- Notice to parents or guardians and general public regarding:
- physical facilities
- enrollment capacity;
- food service;
- health requirements for staff;
- possession of public liability insurance;
- Statements of assurance regarding:
- establishment and implementation of hand washing procedures;
- establishment and implementation of procedures for appropriate supervision of children;
- establishment and implementation of procedures for a daily simple health screening and exclusion of sick children;
- the presence of a person trained and certified in first aid whenever children are present;
- compliance with health laws concerning immunizations;
- all areas of the premises accessible to children being free of obvious injury hazards, including providing and maintaining cushioning materials under playground equipment;
- Statements assuring code compliance in the following areas:
- all staff are able to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect;
- reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect;
- drivers' licenses;
- vehicle inspections;
- insurance for vehicles used to transport children;
- use of child restraint devices in vehicles;
If you wish to pursue religious exemption, the booklet "Information for Religiously Exempt Child Day Centers" and forms may be found under the heading "Current RECDC Providers" below.