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Choosing Child Care Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Choosing Child Care

Whether you have a new child, a new home, or a new job, choosing a child care provider is an important decision. The Office for Children will answer your questions about child care options, outline the signs of quality child care and offer information to families seeking care for their children.

Anne-Marie Twohie : Good afternoon! Welcome to "Choosing Child Care" with the Fairfax County Office for Children. We're here today to talk about child care options, outline the signs of quality child care, and other information for families seeking care for their children.

Chris : I am a teacher for FCPS and want to adopt as a single mother. Do you have any daycare suggestions for a women on one salary? With the high living costs in this area I am having a hard time for someone that makes above low income. Thank you

Anne-Marie Twohie : There are a variety of child care options in our community and a range of child care fees (see: You can also call us at 703-449-8484 to talk with a child care referral specialist who can help you to explore child care options and choices.

Teshome : I live in Burke VA and just wondering to how to get child care for my 4 months boy? Cheers, Teshome

Anne-Marie Twohie : A number of county child care centers and family child care providers care for infants and toddlers. You can do a child care search on our website at You can search by type of care, age of child, zip code and more. There’s also an organization called Infant Toddler Family Day Care, which matches families with family child care providers who participate in their system. You can call them at 703-352-3449.

it's always chilly in virginia : Where can I find a list of certified child care providers and how often are they updated?

Anne-Marie Twohie : There are over 2,500 child care programs in our child care database. This includes family child care providers with a county permit or state license, and state-regulated child care centers and preschools. This information is updated on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is current. Just click on “Search for Child Care” at

Chris : Are there child care providers or daycare center that allow parents to drop kids off on snow days when schools are closed but I have to go to work? Thank you!

Anne-Marie Twohie : Our website has a list of child care programs that provide occasional or back-up care: As with any child care arrangement families make, it’s important to contact and visit programs in advance to ensure that they meet your family’s needs. It’s also important for your child to visit in advance so that he or she is familiar with the setting.

Anonymous User : why do I need to apply for a fairfax county permit. some ladies in my area are taking care of children without a permit and nothing has happened to them

Anne-Marie Twohie : In Fairfax County, all family child care providers are required to have a county permit or a state license. If a child care provider cares for five or fewer children, he or she should apply for a county permit. If they care for six or more children, he or she should apply for a state license. You or your neighbor can call us at 703-324-8100 and a child care specialist will provide information on how to get a permit or license. Details are also online at

Gerry : I don't know how to assess what "quality" care is. The teachers are nice and my child seems happy. Is that enough?

Anne-Marie Twohie : It’s wonderful that your child is happy in his or her child care program! Positive adult-child relationships are one of the most important signs of quality child care. Also, teacher education and experience contribute to quality, as does programming that supports each child’s individual learning and development. A clean, safe, comfortable environment with a variety of easy-to-reach, age-appropriate books, toys and learning materials is also important. Our website has more info at:

Angie : How can I be sure my child will be ready to start school next year?? She is 4 and attends preschool half day. thanks.

Anne-Marie Twohie : Social/emotional development is the foundation of all learning. If your child is confident, eager to learn, motivated to go to school, makes friends and has self-help skills, she’ll be ready. Recognizing her name and some letters, and singing songs and rhymes are early literacy skills that are also important. You are your child’s first teacher and support her learning and school readiness every day. "Helping Your Child Love" to Learn is a booklet for families that has simple activities that support school readiness which you can enjoy with your child as part of your daily routine. The booklet is available here:

Anonymous User : I've looked at the online childcare database and while it appears helpful, I don't find it very useful. It only provides a long list of names and phone numbers. That doesn't help me make a decision about narrowing my choices for childcare. Basically, you're asking me to call random people in the database. Do you have plans to enhance the system so there's more useful information, perhaps such as a bio or description provided by the providers? Something, anything will help because right now it's not useful to me. Thanks.

Anne-Marie Twohie : When you do a child care search on our website, click on the word “select” next to the name of the resulting child care programs. This gives you details about the type of care provided, the ages served, what elementary schools are nearby, the languages spoken, the accommodations for children with special needs, whether the home has pets or smokers or is near public transportation, whether the program participates in the USDA Food Program, and more. When you call child care programs for more information, you can use this telephone interview form offered by the Virginia Dept. of Social Services:

JustMoved : Hi, I'm planning to send my son to one of the day care centers located in Isaac Newton Square, Reston . However I noticed that there's a huge electric substation/transformer-like area between the W/OD trail and the Sunset Hills Rd close to the Isaac Newton Square . I'd like to find out what it is and whether or not it may pose any risk to kids' health. Your timely response is highly appreciated.

Anne-Marie Twohie : Although Reston is served by Dominion Power, the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative says: “the effects of electromagnetic fields is a long-studied topic. A tremendous body of research has produced no conclusive evidence that indicates EMF from transmission and distribution lines are, or can be, hazardous to the health of human beings.” You can find more info on NOVEC’s website here:

Anonymous User : How do I get a Fairfax County Permit?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Call the Office for Children at 703-324-8100 for an application packet. Our staff will help you through the permit process. You can also find details at

Anonymous User : Can I visit the home/facility/center before committing?

Anne-Marie Twohie : Yes, it's very important to visit any child care program you're considering. You can make an appointment for a tour, and it's also important to drop by for an informal visit during the day to observe the program in action. When you've narrowed down your choices, make sure to take your child for a visit.

Mari M. : What can I do to help my provider give quality care? What can I do to make sure my kids get quality care? How can I be sure my kids are eating healthy at the family day care?

Anne-Marie Twohie : It's important to work in partnership with your child care provider. Open communication, continuity between home and child care and shared goals for your child make a difference. Encourage your child care provider to take child care courses and workshops and to join a professional association. You can also encourage your child care provider to participate in the federal USDA Food Program, which supports them in serving nutritous foods, provides annual training, and more. The Office for Children is a USDA Food Program sponsor; you can refer your child care provider to us at 703-324-8100.

Herndon : How many child care providers have lost their certification in the last year? How can people report bad child care providers?

Anne-Marie Twohie : If you have concerns about a child care program in Fairfax County, please contact us at 703-324-8100 or e-mail us at

Anonymous User : I recently heard that day care providers are not allowed to give medication to day children. Is this true?

Anne-Marie Twohie : State-licensed family child care providers are authorized to give prescription medication to children if they have completed the state Medication Administration Training. At the current time, county-permitted family child care providers are not authorized to give prescription medication.

Anonymous User : Does the county provide any grant money to help providers start their business?

Anne-Marie Twohie : While grant money is not available at this time, we provide a number of supports to child care providers including training on how to start to family child care business as well as other training. There are also opportunities for family child care providers through the Women's Business Center for Northern Virginia (703-768-1440).

Sara : What distinguishes the providers in the Infant Toddler Family Day Care program from the list of in-home providers on the OFC website?

Anne-Marie Twohie : The family child care providers who participate in the ITFDC system receive training, monitoring and business support services from ITFDC system.

Anonymous User : I am a daycare provider. My friend is alos a permit daycare provider. My friend is in an OFC pilot program and permit staff are helping with a technical assistance plan and other things. When will all providers get the chance to participate in that program

Anne-Marie Twohie : Technical assistance and training is available to all county-permitted family child care providers. If you would like more information, just contact your Office for Children child care specialist.

Care for Special Needs Child : How can I get help finding care for my special needs child?

Anne-Marie Twohie : You can call the Office for Children at 703-449-8484 to speak with a child care referral specialist who can help you identify options for your family. You can also do an "advanced search" in the child care search on our website, and select "special needs." The results will list child care providers in your area who have indicated they care for children with special needs:

Anonymous User : I am moving soon is there any other service in VA like yours that can help with looking for child care

Anne-Marie Twohie : You can contact the Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network at 804-285-0846 or at

Anne-Marie Twohie : Thank you to everyone who participated in today's "Ask Fairfax" with the Office for Children! If we didn't get to your question, please feel free to e-mail us at