COVID-19 Child Care Resource Guide

The availability of child care is not only important for maintaining a strong workforce but also vital for the growth and development of children. As school districts begin moving to new models for providing instruction to children, including staggered in-person schedules and all-virtual learning, employers must address new challenges that impact employees with school-age children. This Resource Guide is designed for employers who want to help employees navigate child care options or are interested in providing child care at their job site.

The Virginia Department of Social Services’ Division of Licensing Programs (DOLP) provides information, guidance and updates regarding health and safety guidelines for child care in response to COVID-19. For child care resources and updates, click here. To learn more about licensure requirements, visit Inquiries regarding licensing information can also be directed by phone to 1-800-543-7545 or (804) 692-2394 (Richmond only). To learn more about becoming licensed, contact your nearest regional licensing office.

Working parents in search of resources and support in meeting their child care needs during COVID-19 should visit Child Care Aware of Virginia. Additional child care resources are also available through the United Way and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Employers seeking to provide child care services within the workplace should note that Virginia law generally requires a state-approved license for a child day center if the center is providing child care services to: (i) two or more children under the age of 13 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.

However, there are certain exemptions for the requirement for state-approved licensure during the COVID-19 pandemic and state of emergency. Your child care center may be eligible for exemption for licensure if:

  1. You operate a child care program for children of essential personnel
  2. You file an exemption with the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and abide by the following additional requirements:
    • Report serious injuries or death to the VDSS
    • Post a public notice that the program is not licensed
    • Have at least one staff certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation/first aid
    • Maintain attendance records that document children’s arrival and departure
    • Have an emergency preparedness plan in place
    • Follow transportation laws
    • Comply with American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines for infants
  3. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidance on safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  4. Businesses owned or operated by a religious institution are likely exempt from the full state-approved licensing rules. However, in order to operate a child care operation, requirements in § 63.2-1716 must be met, to, include the following:

    1. Notify VDSS of your intent to operate
    2. Receive approval from your local health department and fire marshal
    3. Supervision and ratio requirements:
      • One staff member to four children from ages zero to 16 months
      • One staff member to five children from ages 16 months to 24 months
      • One staff member to eight children from ages 24 months to 36 months
      • One staff member to 10 children from ages 36 months to five years
      • One staff member to 20 children from ages five years to nine years
      • One staff member to 25 children from ages nine years to 12 years
    4. Staff in a supervisory position must be cleared by a physician to care for children
    5. Background checks as required in Section 63.2-1724 of the Code of Virginia
    6. Requirements for the transportation of children in Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia
    7. Training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid
    8. Health and safety requirements including handwashing, supervision, injury prevention, and recognizing the signs of child abuse and neglect

    For more information and requirements for religiously exempt child day centers, visit To view the Code of Virginia exemption requirements, click here.

    Creating a Safe Space for Child Care

    Spaces free of hazards and environmental risks protect children from harm and reduce risk of injury. Businesses considering child care or the use of unconventional spaces for child care should consider:

    1. Conducting a building inspection of new space or facilities,
    2. Consulting with their local health department
    3. Ensuring hazardous substances are locked and inaccessible to children, and
    4. Inspecting the physical environment to identify and remove safety risks.

    Emergency child care programs should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health guidance on safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additional COVID-19 Child Care Guidelines are located here.

    Basic health and safety guidelines include:

    1. Reporting serious incidents, injuries or death to VDSS
    2. Posting a notice explaining that the program is not licensed
    3. Having staff certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation/first aid
    4. Maintaining attendance records that document children’s arrival and departure
    5. Having an emergency preparedness plan in place
    6. Following transportation laws
    7. Complying with the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines for infants
    8. Infection control policies such as safe and healthy diapering/toileting and handwashing
    9. Medication administration procedures
    10. Supervision and accountability procedures

    For additional health and sanitation guidelines, please reference the following:


    Emergency child care programs should consider requiring staff to complete basic training that introduces them to important health and safety information. The Virginia Department of Social Services, through the Pennsylvania State University, offers Virginia Preservice Training for Child Care Staff, a free, 10-hour online course that covers prevention and control of infectious diseases, food and allergy reactions, handling and storage of hazardous materials and other critical topics. The course is required to become a provider in Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy Program, but all child care staff in Virginia can take the course. Participants successfully completing the course receive a certificate and can obtain CEU credit. For more information or to start the training, click here.

    Background Checks

    Background checks are required by the Code of Virginia for all licensed, regulated and registered child day programs including all individuals involved in the day to day operation of the program. Procedures for these programs can be found here.

    Most programs that are exempt from licensure, except for programs mandated by the Code of Virginia, are not required to complete background checks. While not required for most exempt child care programs, background checks help to ensure the safety of children by identifying criminal convictions and child abuse or neglect offenders. It is recommended that exempt programs obtain criminal record checks from the Virginia State Police and a search of the Child Protective Services registry to ensure the safety of children in care.

    Becoming A Child Care Subsidy Provider

    Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy Program provides eligible low-income families with financial assistance to pay for some of the cost of child care so that parents or guardians can work or participate in educational or/and training programs. Over 20,000 children are served through the program each year and nearly 2,500 child care providers participate. Subsidy providers make a big difference in the community. They deliver important services that allow parents to work and remain self-sufficient and promote child development and well being by providing healthy and safe care and environments. Subsidy providers receive payments for carrying out this important job.

    To find out how to begin the process of becoming a Child Care Subsidy Program vendor, visit, click on the “Provider” tab at the top of the page, and select “Become a Subsidy Vendor.” Completion of the Child Care Subsidy Orientation is required. To enroll in an orientation, contact Child Care Aware of Virginia for information. There is no cost for orientation and training participants will receive technical assistance with the application. For additional steps on becoming an approved child care subsidy vendor, visit the VDSS website or click here.

    Financial Resources

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed into law in late March, providing approximately $70 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CDCBG) funding to Virginia for immediate use to support and sustain child care. For more information on Virginia’s Child Care CARES Act implementation, click here.

    Additional financial resources for small businesses are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Click here for more information regarding COVID-19-related small business guidance and loan resources.

    Additional Resources