Fairfax County Child Care Update
July 17, 2012 – Chairman Sharon Bulova today sent the letter below to Fairfax County day care providers describing a change to how the Commonwealth licenses in-home day cares, a possible change to the County Zoning Ordinance, and how residents can continue providing care to kids in Fairfax County.
"I am contacting you to bring some clarity to the issues surrounding these changes and to share with you what Fairfax County is doing to ensure that our in-home day care providers have all the information and assistance they need to continue operating," Chairman Bulova wrote in the letter.
At issue are a state licensing change and the upcoming consideration by the Board of Supervisors of an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance increasing the number of children allowed in a day care by special permit. The issues are complex, Chairman Bulova said, but Fairfax County is working to ensure state-licensed day care providers understand the changes and have adequate time to come into compliance without disrupting service.
"Child Care Providers in Fairfax County play an important role in the early childhood development and the safety of our children. I am hopeful that these steps will allow for us to work through these changes in a constructive and supportive way," Chairman Bulova wrote in the letter.
July 17, 2012
Fairfax County is home to almost 500 state-licensed child day care providers. Administrative changes recently adopted at the State level have prompted Fairfax County to review and possibly amend our own Zoning Ordinance as it applies to Child Care Providers. Our goal is to ensure that daycare providers are able to come into compliance with the County’s Zoning Ordinance and continue to operate.
I am contacting you to bring some clarity to the issues surrounding these changes and to share with you what Fairfax County is doing to ensure that our in-home day care providers have all the information and assistance they need to continue operating in compliance with all applicable laws.
1. What has happened at the State level that has created this confusing situation?
The Virginia Department of Social Services has adopted a recent administrative change requiring those providers renewing their state licenses, or new providers getting their first state license, to have the local Zoning Administrator sign a form indicating the Zoning Administrator has been informed of the provider’s plan to seek a child care license.
In Virginia a child care provider receiving a State license is allowed to care for up to 12 children.
Presently however, the County’s Zoning Ordinance allows “by right” seven children in a single-family detached dwelling and five children in a townhouse, apartment, or mobile home. With a Special Permit (granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals) Fairfax County allows up to 10 children in an in-home day care facility, less than the State maximum of 12 children.
2. What is being done to address this inconsistency?
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider changing our ordinance in order to allow for up to 12 children with a special permit. The Board will hold a public hearing on the issue to solicit information and opinions from County residents on the possible change. If adopted by the Board, the maximum number of children allowed by special permit would be the same as the maximum number of children allowed by State licensing regulations.
Since that process can take several months, during this time, Fairfax County will, temporarily, not enforce the limits against a current provider who is not in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance unless the violation presents a health or safety risk.
In the meantime, The Virginia Department of Social Services has agreed to renew existing licenses for providers for their existing number of children until otherwise notified by Fairfax County, essentially granting a temporary grace period while this issue is being resolved.
The Zoning Administrator will work with providers who may have more children than allowed by the Zoning Ordinance to help bring them into compliance or provide them with guidance and assistance regarding how to navigate the special permit process. Meanwhile, providers who care for more than the number of children allowed by the Zoning Ordinance are encouraged to allow normal attrition in their program to occur in order to preclude the potential need to disenroll families should their licensed capacity change.
Child Care Providers in Fairfax County play an important role in the early childhood development and safety of our children. I am hopeful that these steps will allow for us to work through these changes in a constructive and supportive way.
Please feel free to contact my office at 703-324-2321 if you have any questions or comments or if I can be of assistance in any way. Contact information for the Office for Children is 703-324-8100. The Zoning Administrator can be reached at 703-324-1314.
Cc: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors