Chesterfield tightened its oversight on home daycare centers Tuesday.
The Chesterfield Planning Commission adopted a list of guidelines to follow when approving applicants who wish to operate a home daycare center. However, the items on the list are just recommendations. The board will decide the conditions of each application on an individual basis.
Commissioners had been considering toughening some county regulations for home daycares for several months. Virginia passed a law last year requiring all new home daycare applicants to be approved by county zoning boards.
One change commissioners considered was limiting the number of children in each home to less than 12, the state maximum. However, no official room size to child ratio was adopted by the board.
"This is just a little bit more stringent policy for them to look at... to prepare the commission [for what} they're going to possibly want to enforce on an applicant," said Ryan Ramsey, a senior planner for Chesterfield County.
The new guidelines don't specifically recommend any ratio of square footage to number of children at a daycare. However, allowing 25 to 50 feet of room space per child is mentioned.
In the future, this measure could affect daycares like the Loving and Learning Preschool, operated by Melissa Blackmore, in her own home.
"I teach because I love it," said Blackmore.
Blackmore says she believes her room is big enough to fit 12 children comfortably. However, the space may not be large enough for a dozen, by the county's new guidelines.
A new applicant may not be allowed to have up to 12 children, if commissioners don't believe the space is adequate enough. More empty seats could lead to higher costs for parents.
"If you take away children from your home, that takes away from your income… so you would have to increase your cost to the parents," explained Blackmore.
Other conditions on the list included no signs being posted on the property, identifying the daycare. Another rule would only allow other family members who live at the home to work in the daycare.
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