Family Day Care Homes

Opening a Family Day Care Home In Arlington

Arlington County Child Care Services Office offers licensure for childcare programs located in the residence of the provider for one through 12 children under the age of 13, exclusive of the provider’s own children and any children who reside in the home, when at least one child receives care for compensation. A Family Day Care Home where the children in care are all related to the provider by blood, adoption, or marriage shall not be required to be licensed.

All Family Day Care Homes licensed for five or more children will also need to be licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia. For additional information, see the Virginia Department of Social Services.

The Licensing Process

Prior to beginning the licensing process, review the information provided on our website for potential providers, to include Arlington County Code Chapter 59.

If you have questions or concerns related to the licensing process, contact the Child Care Services Office via email at

Our new guides for Opening, Operating, and Expanding a Family Day Care Home in Arlington are now available! 

Step 1: Contact Child Care Services

County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS

Applicants interested in becoming a licensed family day care home provider in Arlington County must contact the Child Care Services Office by phone or email for information regarding the process.

Step 2: Pre-Licensing Orientation

County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS

The In-Person Licensing Orientation will provide information on:

  • The role of a Child Care Licensing Specialist
  • Health and safety requirements
  • Child care licensing process, rules, and all requirements

The In-Person Licensing Orientation is held at Arlington County Child Care Services on 2100 Washington Blvd, 3rd Floor, Arlington, VA 22204. The orientation is typically scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month. Children are not permitted at the licensing orientation. You will not be able to attend if you bring your children.

*Completion of the In-Person Licensing Orientation is required prior to applying for a child care license. A copy of your certificate must be submitted with your application. Certificates will only be given to those individuals who complete the session.

Step 3: Code Consultations

County Department: Inspection 

It is recommended that applicants submit a free Code Consultation form with Inspection Services Division. While not required, this consultation is encouraged to allow the applicant to discuss elements of construction and/or building code requirements with County staff before the project reaches its final design. Each scheduled appointment is allocated one hour. If construction is proposed, it is recommended that the applicant invites their architect and/or engineer to the meeting.

Step 4: Family Child Care Application and Trainings

County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS

Only upon successful completion of the In-Person Licensing Orientation may an applicant submit an application. You must submit the following documents when seeking licensure:

  1. Family Day Care Home Application.
  2. A minimum of two child care reference check forms.
  3. Medical certification for the applicant of the family day care home; including a report of tuberculosis screening.
  4. Medical certification for adult household members (18 years of age and older) of the family day care home; including a report of tuberculosis screening.
  5. Documentation of completion of required background checks for all members of the family day care household, including the provider, family members, assistants, and lodgers 18 years of age and older:
    • Sworn Disclosure Statement Form
    • National Criminal Background Check
    • If applicable, an out-of-state Central Registry Check
  6. Documentation of completion of Child Protective Central Registry Check for all members of the family day care household, including family members, assistants, and tenants 14 years of age and older.
  7. Proof of identity for applicant, assistant(s), and household members.
  8. Copy of Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
  9. Documentation of liability insurance.

*Note this is not a comprehensive list of all application requirements.

The following trainings are required prior to licensure:

  1. Virginia Pre-Service Training for Child Care Staff.
  2. Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect (For Educators).
  3. First Aid and CPR certification.

Initial Onsite Consultation Inspection

Upon successful completion of the application package and verification of required trainings being completed a Child Care Licensing Specialist will contact you within 10 business days of receiving the application to schedule an appointment to conduct an initial onsite consultation inspection. The consultation inspection is to assess health and safety concerns, determine license capacity, and provide technical assistance.

Barrier Crimes for Child Day Care Programs

ALERT: Virginia law changed, effective July 1, 2015, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to operate a family day care home if the provider or any household member, employee, or volunteer in a family day care home has been convicted of any offense that requires registration in the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, § 63.2-1727.

The list of crimes that convictions of which require registration in the Sex Offender Registry can be found here.

The Office of the Attorney General has revised the list of Barrier Crimes for Child Day Programs. This list is effective immediately; discard any other barrier crimes lists previously issued.

Step 5: Virginia Child Care License

State Department: Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS)

Providers applying for a license capacity of five or more children are required to apply for a state child care license through the VDSS Fairfax Licensing Office, in addition to applying for an Arlington County child care license in Step 4. Family day care home providers may apply for state licensure at any stage of the process, but it is recommended to begin as early in the process as possible. Review and approval of a Virginia child care license takes approximately 60 days.

Step 6: Special Exception Use Permit

County Department: Planning Division 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 7).

    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. If approved, the use permit will include conditions which address and mitigate any potential land use impacts, such as parking or pick-up 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.

    Use Permit: Supplemental Documents

    The following documents are required to be considered a complete application:

    • Signed disclosure statement
    • House Location Plat of existing site conditions and proposed improvements
    • Scaled drawing depicting site parking, play areas, fencing, additional structures and onsite circulation for pick-up and drop-off
    • Scaled floor plan depicting all areas/rooms where children and their teachers/caretakers will be present
    • List of outdoor play equipment, with photos and design details
    • Letter of support from Child Care Services Office
    • Letter of support from affected Civic Associations, or provide evidence of outreach or why no civic associations are affected by the family day care home
    • Pictures of interior and exterior of property
    • Property owner consent (if operating in a rental dwelling unit)

    Step 7: Trade Name Registration

    County Department: Office of the Commissioner of Revenue

    Trade name registration is required for family day care home providers who plan to operate under an assumed name. Registration takes approximately two weeks for review and approval. Prior to applying for a trade name registration, every employer must have a federal employer identification number (FEIN/EIN). This number is a nine-digit number that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service uses to identify businesses for tax purposes and stays with a business for its operational lifetime.

    • To apply for a FEIN/EIN, applicants should go online and choose the type of business they plan to operate.

    Step 8: Business License

    County Department: Office of the Commissioner of Revenue

    To open a family day care home, applicants must obtain a business license from the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. It is illegal to engage in any business without first obtaining a business license. The Office of the Commissioner of Revenue will assign a business license number to the application.

    Step 9: Certificate of Occupancy

    County Department: Zoning Division, CPHD

    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 one month prior to opening and operating a family day care home.

    The Zoning Division will assign a file number to the CO application. Once a number has been assigned to the application, applicants must notify the following agencies of the CO number:

    1. Office of the Commissioner of Revenue (reference the business license number)
    2. County Child Care Services Office 

    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 outstanding 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 10: Validation Inspection and County Child Care License

    County Department: Child Care Services Office, DHS

    Prior to license validation a provider should purchase developmentally appropriate materials and equipment, and cots/cribs. The family day care home must have adequate supplies for the number of children enrolled.

    A Child Care Licensing Specialist will contact you to schedule an appointment to conduct a home inspection to determine compliance with Arlington County Code Chapter 59: Family Day Care Homes. After the inspection is completed, you will receive an inspection report that will identify compliance or non-compliance with licensing regulations.

    The following documentation is required to be onsite at the home during the validation visit:

    • Fire Evacuation Plan (Written Plan and Diagram)
    • State Health Department “Communicable Disease Chart”
    • Emergency Numbers
    • State Health Department and Education Department flip chart, “Suggestions for Temporary Care of Emergencies in Schools”
    • Business License
    • Behavior Management Plan
    • Written Shaken Baby Syndrome or Abuse Head Trauma Procedures
    • Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan
    • Written Medication Procedures

    When all the licensure requirements have been met, a family day care home license* will be issued.

    The hours of operation, age range, and the number of children you can care for will be included on the license. Your family day care home license must be renewed annually. You must have a valid license before you can take care of children or you shall be subject to civil penalties for an illegal operation of child care.

    *A Conditional License will be issued to NEW APPLICANTS for a period of six months to allow time for all requirements to be met. If at the end of the six month conditional period, the licensee is in full compliance with Chapter 59: Family Day Care Homes, a regular license will be issued.

    **Please allow 6-8 weeks to complete the licensure process.**

    Are You Providing Child Care Without A License?

    • You must be licensed in Arlington County if you care for one or more children unrelated to you for payment.
    • You don’t need a license if you care for your children or those of a relative.

    If you are providing child care in your home and are not licensed, be advised that it is against the law.

    ALERT: The 2015 Session of the General Assembly passed legislation requiring every unlicensed and unregistered family day home to provide written notice to parents of every child receiving care, at the time care begins. The written notice should:

    1. State the family day home is not regulated by the Division of Licensing Programs at Virginia Department of Social Services; and
    2. Refer parents to the following Department website for additional information regarding licensed, registered, unlicensed, and unregistered family day homes.

    The benefits of being licensed:

    • Help establish you as a professional in your field
    • Signal to parents that you are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for children
    • Allow you full access to free and relevant, up-to-date training and workshops
    • Provide you with eligibility to participate in the USDA Food Program, which provides financial reimbursements for meals and snacks

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Can I move a licensed family child care home to another location in Arlington?

    You must notify the Child Care Services Office 30 days prior to your move. You will need to provide the new address as well as the tentative moving date. If the date changes, you should keep your specialist up to date so that your current license is not terminated too soon. As you move into your new location you need to make sure that all family child care home requirements are met so that when a visit is made to assess it, there will be no delays in processing your license. If you have questions about certain aspects of the new location, ask your specialist prior to your move.

    Who needs an annual tuberculosis screening?

    All family members including provider and assistants require the annual TB screening. We can request an additional test if there are specific concerns about a provider’s health. If you use volunteers or have visitors to your home for extended periods they too must obtain a TB screening before coming in contact with children.

    What do I do to close a family day care home?

    If you want to close your family child care home you must provide parents 30-days written notice of your intent to close. Additionally, you must provide your licensing specialist a written letter with your final program date. Within 48-hours of closing your program, you must surrender your original license along with any materials and equipment borrowed from the Child Care Licensing Office.

    Useful Forms and Documents

    How to Open Operate and Expand a Family Day-Care Home

    Code Reference

    Background Checks

    Family Day Care Home Application Forms

    Family Day Care Home Sample Forms