I am writing to you to express my thoughts and concerns about zoning issues and child care in Fairfax County.
I understand that state-licensed in-home child care providers are facing changes in state licensing and a possible change in county zoning ordinances. The number of children currently allowed in the homes may be increased, which I feel is harmful to the development of the children. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering changing our ordinance in order to allow up to 12 children with a special permit. Unfortunately, it appears that money/income is the driving factor while I feel the focus should be on quality care for our children. More children may increase income, however, it provides an overcrowded environment where the individual needs of children would not be met and it would not allow for quality care of our children. Research has shown that the group size of a child care setting affects the relationship between the caregiver and the child. Increased enrollment results in lack of attention and security, confusion and instability for the children.
I have been working with Infant Toddler Family Day Care, a state-licensed child care system for more than 20 years. Initially, I was a provider and cannot imagine anyone being able to care for more than five to six children at a time, including their own. I did child care for seven years in my home before going to work in our office as a child care specialist. To this day, I am still in touch with many of the children and their families that I cared for. In a small, in-home daycare, lasting relationships are formed and the quality of care provided is greater. I am currently still working with the agency and visiting and monitoring homes monthly (our visits are unannounced) of women who do child care through our program. Our agency offers services to help women start their businesses. Services include fee collection and supportive monthly home visits.
The system allows up to six children in each home (most homes can have no more than five) in order to maintain high quality. What I observe each month includes the development of lasting relationships, security, love and attention. The early years of a child’s life plays a critical role in the child’s ability to grow up healthy and ready to learn. The quality of non-parental care and experience during these most important years has a lasting and significant effect on the child the remained of his/her life.
I am hoping for your support on this issue, and before considering increasing the zoning regulations to allow 12 children per home, we should look at what is best for our children and their futures. I truly believe in small, in-home child care settings and quality care as the first priority.
Malia H. Anderson,
Child Care Specialist, Infant Toddler Family Day Care