Given the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and its effect on working families, we wanted to highlight a change to Virginia’s childcare laws that was passed in March 2019 with COVID not on the radar screen, yet a great small business tool to deal with its impacts. The change afforded businesses, particularly small businesses, and working parents the opportunity to form alternate childcare options.
As a small, family-owned business, with our corporate operations based in Virginia, our company has always viewed our staff as family and strived for ways to support the family unit. In late 2018, we began to seek ways to better support our working parents. We had a few employees with very young children that were beginning the difficult balancing act of career and parenthood. To better support them in the earliest stage of parenthood, we allowed them the opportunity to bring their infants to work (in an office setting) until the infants were about 6-months of age (staff members provided direct care or their child). Our whole staff supported this endeavor.
With extra office space and a team accustomed to thinking outside the box for solutions, we then sought creative ways to further assist our working parents. We researched Virginia’s childcare regulations in effect at the time to ad nauseum only to find that unless we complied with the regulations of a full-scale daycare/childcare center and became licensed as such, we did not have the ability to provide an onsite childcare alternative for a few children if the need arose. The level of regulation required was too burdensome, and we imagined it to be the same for other small businesses too.
Not to be dismayed, we approached our local delegate, Jason Miyares, to discuss our findings and what we felt was a deficiency in the legislation. We made the case for a more reasonable option. If a small business could provide an alternative onsite childcare option for a limited number of children, it would not only provide flexibility, cost savings and peace of mind to working parents, but also provide small businesses another avenue to retain staff.
Delegate Miyares was in full support and in early 2019, he introduced a bill to add language to § 63.2-1715, Exemptions from licensure. The bill received full bi-partisan support and was passed unanimously on March 21, 2019. The regulations have a lengthy list of exemptions for licensure which now include:
Child-minding services offered by a business on the premises of the business to no more than four children under the age of 13 at any given time and for no more than eight hours per day, provided that the parent or guardian of every child receiving care is an employee of the business who is on the premises of the business and can resume responsibility for the child's supervision within 30 minutes upon request.
We are thankful for Delegate Miyares’ support as well as the full support of the General Assembly in Virginia to provide more childcare alternatives for small businesses and working parents. We have yet to implement an onsite childcare option other than parental supervision, but we, and our team, have peace of mind knowing the option exists.
To view the full text for § 63.2-1715, Exemptions from licensure, click here: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title63.2/chapter17/section63.2-1715/