Operating a Family Day Care Home
The County regulates the operation of Family Day Care Homes in Arlington through a series of inspections and review processes. This page discusses the County’s inspections and reviews that must occur once a Family Day Care Home is open for business, and when a provider is interested in expanding an existing Family Day Care Home.
Inspections and Reviews
The list below includes recurring inspections and reviews needed to operate a Family Day Care Home in Arlington:
- Use Permit Review
- Business License and Tangible Property Tax
- County Child Care Licensing Inspection
- State Child Care Licensing Inspection
- Fire Inspection
Use Permit Review
County Department: Planning Division, CPHD
For applicants that obtained a use permit from the County to operate a Family Day Care Home with 10 to 12 children, the approved use permit stipulates when the permit will go before the County Board for review. Typically, the County Board reviews the use permit one year after the approval date to ensure that the Family Day Care Home is operating according to the approved permit conditions. Three years after the County Board review hearing, staff will review the use permit administratively. If no issues arise, staff may recommend no further reviews; if issues do arise, staff may elevate the use permit for review by the County Board. Staff in CPHD will notify a Family Day Care Home provider when their use permit is scheduled for review.
Business License and Tangible Property Tax
County Department: Office of the Commissioner of Revenue
Family Day Care Home providers must submit a business license tax return, and make any payment required, by March 1 of each year. All businesses are encouraged to file and pay online. Once approved, applicants will receive a business license certificate from the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. When completing the business license tax return, please include the Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Zoning Division.
In addition to the business license, all Arlington County businesses must file a Business Tangible Personal Property Tax Return each year on or before May 1. Payments, if applicable, are due each year on or before September 5. Businesses must report tangible personal property owned, leased, or in their possession in Arlington County each year as of January 1.
Family Day Care Home providers are required to pay an annual license tax of thirty-five cents ($0.35) for each $100 of gross receipts from the business during the preceding calendar year. Instead of the tax rate, a flat fee may apply for businesses with annual gross receipts of $100,000 or less.
County Child Care Licensing Inspection
County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS
Family Day Care Homes are inspected for initial licensing, renewal purposes, routine monitoring and when complaint allegations are made against the facility. A renewal inspection will be conducted for family day care homes annually to determine compliance with Arlington County Code Chapter 59. A Child Care Specialist will conduct an unannounced inspection prior to the licensee’s expiration date.
Routine monitoring inspections will be conducted during the licensed period. A Child Care Specialist will conduct an unannounced monitoring inspection on a routine basis or when deemed necessary to determine compliance with Arlington County Code Chapter 59.
A complaint inspection will be conducted when the Child Care Services Office receives an allegation against the Family Day Care Home. A Child Care Specialist will conduct an unannounced complaint investigation to determine compliance with Arlington County Code Chapter 59. Complaint investigations may be conducted jointly with other local and/or state agencies.
State Child Care Licensing Inspection
State Department: VDSS
Family Day Care Homes are inspected by VDSS twice a year, where at least one inspection is unannounced. Upon two years of operation, Family Day Care Home providers will need to renew their State child care license with VDSS. Information related to the state licensing inspection process is available here.
County Department: Fire Prevention Office, Fire Department
An operational permit and fire inspection are required to operate a Family Day Care Home in compliance with the Arlington County Fire Prevention Code. A fire prevention permit will be issued immediately following the issuance of a child care license by the County Child Care Services Office and each year thereafter of continued operation (annually). To begin the inspection process, file a Child/Daycare Application – Fire Prevention Permit with the Fire Prevention Office. An inspection by the Fire Prevention Office will occur at the Family Day Care Home within 30 business days of submitting the application.
This chapter is for Family Day Care Home providers who are currently open, operating, and would like to increase the number of children in their program.
Applications and Forms
- Change in Operation and Modification Request Form
- VA Child Care License
- Special Exception Use Permit
- Certificate of Occupancy
- Validation Inspection and County Child Care License
Step 1: Change in Operation and Modification Request Form
County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS
Family Day Care Home providers who wish to expand their program should submit the Family Day Care Home Change in Operation and License Modification Request form. Upon receipt of the form, the Child Care Specialist will contact the provider to schedule an on-site consultation visit at the home to determine support of the modification request. This request may also be made during a renewal or routine monitoring inspection while the Child Care Specialist is on site. The consultation visit involves an environmental inspection of the home to determine if there are any potential issues and ensure that the home properly equipped for expansion.
Step 2: Virginia Child Care License
State Department: Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS)
Providers caring for five or more children need to amend their state child care license through the VDSS Fairfax Licensing Office, in addition to amending the Arlington County child care license in Step 1. Family day care home applicants can apply for state licensure at any stage of the process, but it is recommended to begin as early as possible. Review and approval of a Virginia child care license takes approximately 60 days. See the VDSS Family Day Homes website for more information.
Step 3: Special Exception Use Permit
County Department: Planning and Zoning Division, CPHD
The Arlington County Zoning Ordinance requires approval of a special exception use permit (use permit) by the County Board for family day care homes with 10 to 12 children; family day care homes with nine or fewer children do not require a use permit (skip to Step 4).
Use permits are filed with the Zoning Division which reviews the application for completeness, and then assigns the use permit to a planner in the Planning Division. Use permits take approximately two to three months to review and obtain approval from the County Board. To determine when to file a use permit, please review the County’s Filing Deadlines web page.
If approved, the use permit will include conditions which address and mitigate any potential land use impacts, such as parking or pickup and drop-off. To obtain approval from the County Board, applicants need to demonstrate the following:
- The location of outdoor play space
- If located on-site, outdoor play space must be enclosed and screened by a solid wall or fence, or a combination of landscaping and fencing
- One off-street parking space available for pick-up/drop-off of children
After the County Board hearing, Planning staff will email the applicant a link to the staff report, which will allow them to apply for a Certificate of Occupancy from the Zoning Division. The applicant will also receive a letter from the County Board Office informing them of the final County Board actions and the conditions in the use permit.
Step 4: Certificate of Occupancy
County Department: Zoning Division, CPHD
A certificate of occupancy (CO) ensures that a family day care home complies with all regulations of Arlington County, including laws and ordinances. All CO applications must be filed at the Zoning Division at least two weeks prior to opening and operating a family day care home.
The Zoning Division will assign a file number to the CO application. Applicants should keep this number for their records. To obtain approval, applicants will need to demonstrate the following in their application:
Family Day Care Homes with 1-12 Children
- Parents and/or another authorized caregiver of children receiving care shall escort the children both to and from the home at all times.
- If an on-site outdoor play area is provided, the area shall be enclosed and screened by a solid wall or fence, or a combination of landscaping and fencing to minimize noise and visibility. This does not apply to communal on-site outdoor play areas, such as playgrounds in multiple-family apartment complexes.
Family Day Care Homes with 6-12 Children
Meet the requirements for homes with 1-12 children (as outlined above), and :
- Provide the name, telephone number, and email address of the child care provider to the Civic Association(s) that the family day care home is located within and directly adjacent to.
- Provide one off-street parking space for pick-up and drop-off.
- Demonstrate that pick-up and drop-off of children shall be managed so that queuing of two or more cars does not occur on public streets or impede access to any neighboring property or driveway.
Once any issues are addressed, the Zoning Division may approve the CO. Upon approval, a Zoning Inspector will contact the applicant to schedule an inspection. The final CO will list the maximum number of children permitted in the family day care home, which is based on the square footage of the area dedicated to child care.
Step 5: Validation Inspection and County Child Care License
County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS
A validation inspection will be conducted once the Family Day Care Home provider has obtained all applicable permits and is ready for expansion. A modified license will be issued with the requested modification terms listed. The license period will remain the same.