COVID-19 Child Care Resource Guide

In response to COVID-19, school districts are moving to new models for providing instruction to children and the pandemic has forced families to reexamine their child care provider needs and availability. Choosing quality child care is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a parent. Whether this is your first time researching providers, or you’re in a position of reevaluating your options, this resource guide is for you.

Child Care Law in Virginia: Understanding Licensed vs. Unlicensed Child Day Care

Not all child day programs are required to be licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS).

The VDSS Division of Licensing Programs (DOLP) annually inspects licensed child day care programs. Licensed child day care programs are also required to complete background checks, meet staff qualification requirements, conduct orientation/training, and provide a healthy and safe environment for children.

The DOLP does not inspect unlicensed and unregistered child day care programs (Va. Code § 63.2-1715). These programs do not have the same requirements as licensed child day care programs.

To learn more about licensed and unlicensed child day care programs, visit the ‘Choosing Quality Child Care’ page on, VDSS’ dedicated child care website. For additional inquiries, contact 1-800-543-7545 (Richmond residents: 804- 692-2394)

Finding a Child Care Provider

Child Care Aware of Virginia is the Commonwealth’s primary resource for finding child care providers. This site also reflects the latest information on child facility closings. Consumer Education Specialists are available to help parents find child care. Call 866-543-7852 – Option 2 to speak with a specialist about your child care needs, ask questions and receive a personalized list of referrals or visit

Health and Safety Considerations

To keep your child safe and healthy, all child care programs must follow guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health on safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additional COVID-19 child care guidelines are located here.

In addition to COVID-19 guidelines and Code of Virginia requirements for exempt programs that operate child care programs during the pandemic, additional basic health and safety guidelines may include:

  1. Reporting serious incidents, injuries or death to the Virginia Department of Social Services
  2. Posting a notice explaining that the program is not licensed
  3. Having staff certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid
  4. Maintaining attendance records that document the arrival and departure of children
  5. Emergency preparedness plan
  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

Need Help Paying for Child Care?

Virginia’s Child Care Subsidy Program helps eligible low-income families pay for child care so that parents or guardians can work or participate in education or training programs. You can apply or screen for eligibility through CommonHelp, a self-service portal available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, or you can submit an application to your local department of social services. Additional information on the Child Care Subsidy Program can be found by visiting the ‘Paying for Child Care’ page on