All family child care homes in Alexandria that are not state licensed must register with the Department of Community & Human Services Early Childhood Division (ECD). These homes must pass a fire safety inspection and all adults (18 years of age and older) living in the home must consent to a criminal records check for certain crimes, a tuberculosis (TB) screening, reference checks, and all the home's residents 14 years of age and older must undergo a Child Protective Services clearance. The approval process includes successful completion of ECD's training program and a home study.
Anyone who cares for more than five children, including their own and resident children under the age of 14, must have a Special Use Permit from the City Building & Fire Code Administration. Providers caring for more than six unrelated children must also have a state license.
Family child care providers and their substitutes must be at least 18 years of age. The minimum age for assistants is 18. Providers must be able to read and write and have an understanding of children and their needs. They should be able to handle emergencies in a calm and efficient manner. Providers, assistants and all adult household members must be free of convictions for certain crimes and founded complaints involving child abuse or neglect. Substitutes must meet all the requirements of providers, including training.
There must be one adult to four children under age 2 and one adult to six children two years-old and older. Minimum staffing for mixed age/needs groups will be determined through a point system. For example, a child with a handicap requiring extra attention of the provider counts as two children toward the staffing requirement.
Physical Environment and Equipment
The provider's home and grounds must be free from litter and debris and present no hazard to the health and safety of children. All stairways must have gates or locking doors if there are children under 2 years of age in care. All cleaning supplies and medicines must be kept in a locked cabinet out of reach of children. First aid supplies should be readily accessible.
There must be adequate indoor and outdoor play space for the number of children being cared for. Play equipment must be appropriate for the children's developmental levels and in good condition. The home must have a working telephone landline (not cell phone), and at least one hardwired (not cordless) telephone. Each child must have his/her separate crib, cot or bed. All sleeping areas must have working smoke alarms.
Children must be supervised by an adult at all times. There should be opportunity for vigorous outdoor play as well as indoor activities. Adequate, age-appropriate play materials must be available.
The provider should work with the parents to establish rules and limits for the child. Providers should be aware of modern theories of discipline and may never use methods that are physically, verbally or emotionally abusive.
Family child care providers must report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services by calling 703.746.5800 or 1.800.552.7096.
The provider may choose to provide meals and snacks to the children in care or require the parents to provide food. Children should be served well-balanced, nutritious meals and snacks that are planned using the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid. Family child care providers have the option of enrolling in the United States Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program, which offers reimbursement for meals and snacks served to children.
Providers must keep updated information on all children in their care, including parent-provider agreements with phone numbers, immunization records, emergency medical authorizations and identifying information on back-up persons to contact when parents cannot be reached.
All permits and licenses, including the City registration, must be displayed.