launches; parents collapse with relief

A new website from the Virginia Department of Social Services aims to make the hunt for quality child care less daunting.

Here’s a thing those baby books and blogs don’t usually tell you: finding quality, stable childcare will probably be one of the most stressful facets of your life as a parent.

When our son was 15 months old, my husband and I found ourselves suddenly in need of a new child care arrangement. After weeks of scrambling and cobbling together babysitting offers from friends and family, we finally decided day care made the most sense for our family at that time.

Making that decision was one thing. Bringing that decision into fruition was a whole other ballgame–one that involved hours of internet scouring; emails and Facebook messages to friends of friends of friends; and many a cold call to places we heard were probably OK…you know, in the grand scheme of things.1

Parents with a sore lack of “ins” (e.g. on-site daycare at your office, recommendations from friends, some vague understanding of your local child care options) walk into this already overwhelming process blind. They don’t know where to start, who to trust, what questions to ask, what to look for, or what to even expect from a child care provider. As you can imagine, ignorance is not bliss when considering the safety, health, and emotional well-being of your own child.

Last Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced the launch of a new website that will hopefully make the hunt for child care less daunting for parents across the Commonwealth. serves as the online hub for the Virginia Department of Social Services in its efforts to promote the benefits of quality child care (particularly licensed child care) and the importance of health and safety standards within child care arrangements.

“I am excited that this new resource is now available for parents and providers,” said Governor McAuliffe, via press release. “State licensure provides important benefits for both parents and child care providers, and this website will help everyone get the information they need to provide children with the highest quality, safest care possible.”

On parents can find information on the requirements and benefits of licensed providers; receive guidance for researching and selecting child care; learn about child care subsidy options;2 and search for child care providers by ZIP code, locality, and type of care needed. Each provider’s listing includes:

  1. Type of facility
  2. Facility name, address, and telephone number
  3. Expiration date of license, exemption, or certification
  4. Name of the administrator or director (if applicable)
  5. Hours of operation
  6. Approved capacity (maximum number of children allowed in care)
  7. Age range for which care is provided
  8. VDSS inspector name and telephone number
  9. Inspection dates and reports, as well as the facility’s plan of correction (where applicable)

The website is meant to serve child care providers as well. Current and prospective providers can learn how to become licensed and/or trained and gain access to professional development information and materials.

Parents and providers can also use to stay current on changes to child care in Virginia through the “What’s Changing?” section of the site. There they’ll find up-to-date information on new legislation relevant to child care, such as new capacity limits that will go into effect in July of this year and fingerprinting requirements that will kick in on July 1, 2017.

Additionally, offers step-by-step instructions on filing a complaint if a parent or community member believes a child care provider has violated regulations or suspects abuse or neglect. But hopefully, visits to that section of the site will be few and far between because exists.

“Our priorities are centered on education,” says Margaret Ross Schultze, Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner. “Educating providers on how to provide safe, quality environments for children in their care is paramount. Equally important is educating parents by providing a resource to evaluate which child care program would be the best fit for their family.”

  1. This was us, but we eventually found a place that was fine. About a year later we found a place that was great; he stayed there until he was old enough for VPI through Richmond Public Schools
  2. The cost of child care is yet another ball game–but this one is way expensive and super depressing! 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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