Fairfax County is adding another step in the regulatory process for home-based, private day care providers.
Critics of new rules approved last week by the Board of Supervisors could argue that the additional red tape will be a deterrent to caretakers at a time of acute demand.
The rule change could open a few more slots in home-based day care businesses. It will allow up to 12 children in a single-family home, provided the operators get special zoning permission. The current limit is 10 children. Some providers caring for fewer children wouldn’t have to get a special permit. (More than 360 of the county’s 437 licensed caretakers are allowed 11 or 12 children.)
In this modest refreshing of rules, Fairfax County comes into line with regulations established by the state, which licenses child care operations.
Importantly the changes add a reasonable measure of protection for neighborhoods, especially in so-called planned development districts, requiring a review of traffic and parking impact before a special permit is issued.
Adding this requirement to the review-and-approval process isn’t onerous. There will be more oversight to protect neighbors from excessive traffic and parking congestion as parents pick up and drop off their children, usually during rush hours.
For working parents with newborn or preschool age children, finding quality, affordable child care is sometimes a daunting, stressful challenge. Home-based providers are necessary, and in many cases provide lower rates.
While it won’t make an immediate dent in waiting lists, the change is sensible, weighing the needs of parents, their children, providers and their neighbors.