Start a Daycare in West Virginia – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
|START A DAYCARE IN WEST VIRGINIA||DAYCARE CENTER REQUIREMENT|
|CHILD CARE CENTER TRAINING||STAFF TO CHILD RATIO|
|CHILD HEALTH||GUIDANCE AND DISCIPLINE|
|FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN WEST VIRGINIA|
To operate a daycare center in West Virginia, one must have a license issued by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The center should also pass the requirement set forth by the Office of the State Fire Marshall and the Office of Environmental Health Services. These offices have specific regulations that must be met before the license to operate a daycare center can be issued by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
The child care center should pass the inspection conducted by the Office of the State Fire Marshall. For more information regarding the regulations for child care centers and to set a date for preliminary on-site inspection of your proposed facility, the Inspection Division of the Office of the State Fire Marshall can be reached at (304) 558-2191.
Once you passed the inspection reports from the Office of the State Marshal and your county health department, you can now make important financial decisions about proceeding with your plan of operating a child care center. You need to submit a copy of the Letter of Intent to the Division of Early Care and Education that will indicate your wish to operate a child care center. Upon receipt of the Letter of Intent, they will mail you an initial licensing application.
Daycare Center Requirement
For further understanding when a license is required, here are the following conditions:
- Care is provided for thirteen (13) or more children;
- Care is provided in a non-residential basis;
- Care is provided for more than 30 days per child;
- Care is provided for more than four hours.
Child care centers that operate without license is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined and/or imprisoned. However, if you wish to operate a program that provides occasional care to the children while their parents participate in religious, shopping or other recreational activities, a license is not required.
The license to operate is valid for up to two (2) years from the date of issuance, unless modified by the authorities. It is only valid for the name of the center as specified in the license and the address where it operates, and it is not transferable. The owner of the child care center should renew the license sixty days (60) before it expires. If a new owner will take over the operation, or the center will move to a new location, a new license should be obtained.
Here are the conditions/requirements before the license is granted:
- The director and the staff members should be qualified to run the center;
- The floor plan of the center and its outdoor activity space should be presented;
- It should pass the inspection conducted by the Sate Fire Marshall;
- It should meet the inspection from the county Department of Health Child Care Center Inspection Report and the Department of Health Inspection Report for Food Service Establishments;
- The menu should have a certificate of approval from the Child and Adult Care Food Program administered by the Office of Nutrition in the Department of Education; and
- A Pest Management Report as required by the WV Department of Agriculture.
The facilities for the center should meet the applicable regulations of the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the Environmental Health Services regardless if they are new, rented, or renovated. You may also need an approval from the Department of Agriculture for pest control management plan. If you are going to occupy a building that is built prior to 1978, your local health office should declare that it is free from lead. Your daycare building should be safe for the children and the staff.
The number of enrollees that can be admitted in the center is specified in the license. It is dependent on the available space in the center. The capacity means the maximum number of children that can be safely be taken care of at any given time. The ration should be 1 child for every thirty-five (35) squire feet of usable activity space. This does not include the areas for the kitchens, bathrooms, office space, entryways, hallways, storage areas, etc.
The space to be occupied for the cribs for the children under the age of two years is also not included in determining the maximum capacity of the center. In addition, the number of staff may also be a factor in determining the capacity of the center.
The capacity is different for children under two years old and for children more than two years old. There may also be a separate capacity for the center that operates a summer-age program.
The basement should not be considered an indoor activity space unless the area is approved safe by the State Fire Marshall.
Daycare centers that accept children with twenty-four (24) months of age and under are required to have specific furnishings. The equipment should be composed of the following:
- Chairs and tables that are big enough and with raised sides or other structure that prevents the child from falling. Changing areas should be located not in the activity area of other children;
- Furniture that is adapted for children and made from comfortable and safe materials;
- Feeding equipment that is appropriate for the children’s age and sizes. If the feeding equipment is a high chair, the chair shall have a wide base and a T-shaped safety strap;
- The use of jumpers and infant walkers are not allowed.
As for the indoor activity equipment and materials, the center should make sure that:
- The equipment should be appropriate to the child’s age and development level.
- The equipment should support many types of activities, including fantasy and social play; discovery of skills in languages; music; movement; and gross motor experiences.
- They should be in sufficient quantity to permit each child to choose from among several types, and to avoid conflict.
- They should be diverse enough to cover different cultures, ethnic groups, gender roles and abilities in ways that do not emphasize stereotypes;
- The equipment should be clearly organized within activity areas;
- They should be clean, complete and sturdy.
- They should be free from lead and/ or other toxic chemicals.
- Indoor cabinets, furniture, and appliances like televisions and computer monitors should be firmly anchored;
- Playing zones should be provided with landing mats that are at least four (4) inches thick, constructed from materials such as rubber, that securely fixed in place;
- The area should be free from small toys, objects or toy parts that are less than one (1) and one quarter (1/4) inch as they can be swallowed by children less than four (4) years of age;
- Latex gloves, Styrofoam and plastic bags should be out reach of children less than four years of age.
The facility should have one hand-sink and one toilet for every fifteen children in the care. This also determines the capacity of the center. For instance, even if the usable activity space can accommodate fifty children, but has only three toilets and three toilets, the center’s capacity would be limited to forty-five children.
The daycare center should also have an outdoor facility where children can play for at least one hour a day, in all seasons of the year, as weather may permit. The outdoor activity area should include a minimum capacity of seventy-five (75) squire feet of space per child. However, if your proposed site doesn’t't include an outdoor space; you must submit a written plan for the approval of an alternate space. The alternate can be a safe space in the park, an elementary school playground, etc.
The outdoor facility should be fenced or have natural barriers. The activity area should have more than one type of surface and the playing equipment must have safe material for fall zones.
In addition, the outdoor space should have playing equipment appropriate to the child’s age and developmental level. There should also be enough playing equipment to permit each child to choose at least two (2) types of outdoor play experiences and to avoid conflict. To avoid accidents, make sure that all equipment are installed, maintained and used as per manufacturer’s instruction. It should also be from stagnant water which is the breeding environment for mosquitoes.
Children under that age of twenty-four months (24) should also be provided a space for sleeping. The sleeping area should have the following furnishings:
- a crib or a playpen that has a firm mattress for each child that I one year old or below or who is up to thirty-five (35) inches tall;
- a crib or a playpen with a firm mattress, cot or mat for each child from thirteen (13) and twenty-four (24) months of age;
- a bed, mat or cot for each child over twenty-five (25) months of age;
If a child is sick, he needs to sleep in a disinfected cot. The cot should be disinfected at least once a week, or before another child uses it.
Children should not be permitted to:
- Sleep on the floor
- Sleep on the floor on bed linens or sleeping bags only;
- Sleep on a consecutively attached crib
- Share a bed or cot with other children, or with a family member;
- Sleep on a crib for children more the thirty-five inches tall.
For bedding, the following specifications should be observed:
- Cots, mattresses or playpen pads should be made from waterproof materials.
- Bed sheets and blankets should always be clean and in good condition.
- Each child should have its own bedding while they are sleeping.
- Bedding should cover all sleeping surfaces being used.
- Additional covers should be used to maintain adequate warm during cold season.
- Children from twelve (12) months of age and below should not use pillows of soft, fluffy bedding;
- Pillows or soft bedding made from animal substances other than wool, but includes feathers and animal hair, shall be prohibited as they are known for causing allergies.
- Bedding should be changed weekly, while sheets on cribs should be changed at least daily.
The center should also provide a storage for each child’s personal belongings, including safe storage for the school-age child’s money and projects. The storage for the materials and supply should all be mounted well to avoid accidents.
The staffs and volunteers of a childcare center should possess the following qualifications:
- a good reputation and character;
- have sufficient education, experience and training necessary to perform the important responsibilities of his job;
- maturity in disposition- can make sound judgment and emotional connection with the children;
- the ability to discipline the child without resorting to mistreat or abuse;
- the ability to encourage children to participate in various activities that is aimed at the holistic growth of the child;
- the ability to support the children’s emotional, psychological, social and personal development;
- the ability to communicate effectively to the children and their parents.
Due to the nature of the job handling children, daycare centers are prohibited to hire staff whose health or behavior would harm the children, or who is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. To make sure that the staff is healthy to attend to the children, the center should secure from the employee a recent health assessment performed not more than 90 days from the date of hiring. It should be signed a licensed health provider. This health record should be on file not later than 30 days from the first day of work. For a currently employed staff, a file of health assessment should be updated every two years.
The staff should also be cleared from any criminal record by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, Criminal Identification Bureau (CIB) except when they are covered by the following scenarios:
- a new staff with the CIB report on file within the previous twelve (12) months;
- An individual contracted by the center to provide lessons or other services for a brief period of time to the children at the presence of the center staff;
- a parent who transports children on irregular basis for field trips without pay.
The center is prevented to employ a staff that is currently under indictment or charged with any of the following crime:
- felony, including, but not limited to, abduction, rape, sexual assault, homicide, hate crimes, battery; kidnapping;
- Child or adult abuse or neglect, or child or adult exploitation;
- Domestic violence
- felony or misdemeanor crime against a child or incapacitated adult;
- Pornography or sexual offense crimes that involve children and incapacitated adults, which includes purchase or sale of a child, sexual abuse, incest, or indecent exposure.
Child Care Center Training
To hasten the competency of the staff, the center should provide the staff with training on the following aspects:
- First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). This is very important in making sure that the staff knows how to handle first aid treatment and CPR operation.
- Abuse Recognition and Prevention. This will make the staff aware of the possible abusive behavior towards children. This should be taken within six months of employment.
- Training in medication administration.
- Leadership training. This will help the staff on how to better facilitate group activities.
All staff are required to complete fifteen (15) hours of approved training within the first year of employment.
The center should hire skilled staff for the following positions:
- Director: The director is responsible for the daily operations of the center which includes aspects of finances and human resources. He also supervises the teaching staff and the daily duties of the support staff. He calls for a staff meeting at least once a month. He also needs to develop programs for children development. He is responsible for communicating important reminders/decisions to his staff, children, parents, and the employees.
- Lead Teacher or Assistant Director. He acts as an assistant to the director and may also have teaching loads. He can be given the responsibility for supervision, care and education of the children, and is assigned to a group of children. He acts as a liaison between the teachers and the director. He plans and adopts programs that is aimed at developing core competencies of early childhood education and may implement daily program activities.
- Teacher: A teacher has the responsibility for the supervision, care and education of children. He should practice the core competencies of early childhood educators and is tasked to implement daily program activities. He coordinates the activities of assistant teachers and teaching assistants. He can also assist the director and the lead teacher with designated activities.
- Assistant Teacher. An Assistant Teacher works with the children in direct supervision of a teacher. He can also be given teaching loads. He coordinates daily activities and supervises teaching assistants in the absence of the teacher.
- Teaching Assistant. He can assist other qualified staff members in caring for the children but should not be given a responsibility for a group of children. He can work under the continuous supervision of a qualified staff like teachers. A Teaching Assistant should not be left alone with a child.
- Student Intern. He can perform duties under the direct supervision of a more qualified staff member who has at least the qualifications of an assistant teacher. He needs to perform only the duties assigned t him by training program teacher-coordinator. He should not be left alone in caring for the child.
- Substitute Teacher. A substitute teacher should not be given direct supervision over a group of children. He should teach under the direct supervision of a more qualified staff, like an assistant teacher.
- Support Staff. They assist all the other employees in the day-to-day operation of the center.
- Driver: He should be at least 21 yrs old. He should have a valid driver’s license that will authorize him to operate the daycare vehicle service. He should not have incurred any driving violation or accident for the five year period prior to hiring. He should pass the alcohol and drug testing examination.
- Volunteer. A volunteer should be of 18 yrs of age or above. He should be in excellent health and works under the direct supervision of a staff that is not less than twenty-one years of age. He should not be left alone with a child.
Staff to Child Ratios
A day care center should make sure that there is enough staff members present to take care of the children. There should be enough caregivers to supervise the children’s activities at all times, even during playtime.
The required ration of the staff to children is 2 is to 8; for every 8 children, there should be 2 qualified staff members. The ratio of the staff to children should always be observed.
To ensure that the child: staff ratio is maintained, the center shall have a plan to reserve substitute staff to be available when a staff person is absent for longer than 2 consecutive weeks.
Table A: Staff/Child Ratio for Single-Age Groups
|AGE OF CHILDREN||MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CHILDREN TO BE CARED FOR BY ONE QUALIFIED STAFF MEMBER||MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN A GROUP|
|6 weeks – 1 year||4||8|
|1 year – 2 years||4||12|
The center should create a program that includes flexible activities that:
- Are appropriate to a child’s development level and age;
- A balance of both indoor and outdoor activities;
- Activities that develops all muscles;
- A balance of active and quite play times;
- Individual and group activities;
- Child-initiated and teacher-initiated activities;
- Should give the child an opportunity to choose from among several possible activities, or opt not to participate in the activity at certain times of the day;
- Should provide a vast experience of socialization with other kids, including mixed-age experiences, while taking into consideration each child’s level of maturity;
- Include routines at regularly scheduled times like sleeping, dressing, eating, toileting; diapering and hygiene;
- Are planned carefully so that will not experience anxiety in prolonged waiting period between activities or tasks;
- Provide a child the chance to get some drinks or go to the toilet every time he or she feels the needs;
- Respect cultural diversity, programs that will orient the child to his or her language, traditional food and celebrations.
When a center provides evening or nighttime care, the center should observe the following:
- Create a program that respects the natural sleeping period of the child; the time when they usually fall asleep and the time when they usually wake up;
- Plan quiet activities before bedtime and opportunities for the school-age children to complete their assignment, projects, or hobbies;
- Offer meals and snacks as needed;
- Neatly preparing the bed;
- Dressing in the morning when appropriate;
- Ensure that no child is left in care for more than eighteen (18) hours in twenty-four (24) hour period.
- Ensure that staff members oversee the child’s bath or shower, while respecting the child’s privacy depending on his or her developmental needs.
Computers and televisions are great visual aids for the children. When the center plans to use of these media, the center should ensure that:
- These media should serve as a supplement and not as a replacement to the traditional early childhood materials;
- The child can choose other activities and materials;
- The child can watch the videos with the supervision of the staff;
- The computer software chosen is appropriate for the developmental level of the child, and will enhance their learning and motor skills;
- The video games or computer software should not contain graphics with sexual or violent content, aggressive behavior or profanity.
- Video games and televisions should not be used with children that are two years or younger.
When the center is planning to hold a field trip or any activity outside the premises of the center, the center should make sure that the staff and the parents understand the purpose of the field trip, the security and emergency plan and the activities for that day. The file should also contain the addresses, contact numbers, and the name of the destination, as well as the expected time of arrival and departure. It is also very important to get the parent’s consent prior to the field trip. There should be enough trained staff to supervise the whole group of children in every activity.
If the center plans to have water activities, they have to make sure that enough number of staffs and lifeguards are supervising the children. They also need to make sure that the children are wearing appropriate dress and safety gears.
The center should keep a record of the child immunization within thirty (30) days from the admission of the child. However, a written statement from the parents providing their objection for filling the immunization record would be considered an exemption for this provision.
The center should also keep record of the following health data of a child from a licensed health care provider within thirty (30) days from admission:
- The child’s current weight and height;
- The child’s current physical well-being- describing the allergies the child has, or other conditions that may affect the child’s adaptation to the care, including current findings about his vision and hearing.
- A doctor’s prescription for the child’s daily medication;
- The child’s complete medical history, including information about serious illness that is considered communicable; an accident met that required hospitalization, surgical operation, or a history of prematurity.
For the center that will accept a child between six (6) and three (3) months of age, they should have on file a statement from the child’s health care provider permitting the child to enter a group care.
The center should also plan and implement health policies and procedures that include protocols to follow when medical treatment is required by the child. If the parent objects for the child’s medication because of the conflict with the beliefs of his religion, the center should file a statement of the objection duly signed by the parents.
When a staff observes symptoms that the child is seek, the center should inform the parents immediately of the presence of the illness. The center also needs to contact a health practitioner for further information. They should keep a record of this instance on file. The center should only administer medication upon the specific instruction by the doctor, or from the parents. The instruction on the administration of the medication which includes specific dosage, frequency of intake and the time to be given should be strictly followed. Only the staff with training in medication administration can facilitate the medication.
The center should also have a plan to promote and maintain oral health of the children. The staff members must refrain from giving children sweets and bottled drinks. Children over the age of two should have personally labeled toothbrush with bristles in good condition.
Nutrition and Food
If a child care center is providing meals to the children, the foods shall comply with the local health department’s regulations. It is also important the center should make consultation with the parents or a licensed health care provider regarding the child’s dietary needs, including special meals because of medical reasons or religious convictions.
The center should provide meals that include the four basic food groups: meat/beans, fruits and vegetables, grains, and milk. For children more than 1 year of age should be feed with the following dietary requirement:
- For breakfast, include at least one item from three of the food groups;
- For lunch, or supper, include one item from each of the four groups;
- For snacks, it should include at least one item from two food groups.
The next meal should be given no more than four hours elapse from the previous meal, unless the child is asleep. A center that is open from morning until the afternoon must provide breakfast or morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack. A center that opens before 7 o’clock in the morning is required to provide breakfast to the child. A center which is still open after 7 o’clock in the evening should provide supper for the children. However, the staff should not force the children to eat if they don’t feel like eating at the given time.
The center can only give solid foods and fruit juices to infants 6 months old or younger upon the recommendation of the parents or the child’s pediatrician.
For the menus, the center needs to post all food served a minimum of one week in advance for the parent to see. The center should follow the menus as planned and write any changes on the posted menus immediately.
If a child is being breast fed, a center should make a plan to ensure that the mother can provide sufficient amount of milk to last throughout the day. The center is expected not to give commercial milk to the child without the consent of the mother.
For the children between six (6) months and three years of age, the center should not replace formula or breast milk with water.
Lastly, the center should make sure that the foods to be given to the children are clean and safe. The area where they eat their meals should also be clean at all times.
When the center is providing transportation, the center shall ensure that:
- The vehicle being used is registered, insured, inspected and is equipped with signs and warning lights or alternative devices.
- The vehicle should accommodate more than ten passengers in accordance with the standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by September 1, 2012.
- The driver should have a license for the type of vehicle being driven.
- The vehicle should be equipped with an approved safety restraint system to hold each child in seats; first-aid kit, a mobile telephone, and a fire extinguisher.
All personnel of the center should practice good personal hygiene at all times. They should observe the following practices:
- Hand Washing. The staffs should wash their hands before starting to work, after using the toilets, after handling the garbage, after taking care of a sick child and before and after eating meals. If pets are allowed in the center, they should also wash their hands after handling the pets. They also have to make sure that the children also wash their hands before and after every meal, or as deemed necessary.
- Diapering and toileting should be done only in designated places for them.
- The staff should also discuss to the children the proper use of toilets.
Center personnel should make sure that the pets don’t show any signs of disease or illness. They also have to make sure that the pets are given complete vaccine shots. The staff should be present while the children are playing with their pets.
Guidance and Discipline
The center should have written policy on guidance of children which should be followed consistently by the staff. The center should implement rules that are fair and relevant to the children’s age and should demonstrate proper behavior to them.
Any worker in the center, even the child’s visitor, should not do the following forms of disciplining the child:
- Hurting the child physically which includes spanking, kicking, shaking, pinching, popping, hitting, spitting or other cruel treatment;
- Not letting the child eats sleeps or go to the toilet;
- Putting anything on the child’s mouth;
- Locking a child in the closet or rooms;
- Using loud, abusive and profane language or threats of physical punishment;
- Using psychological torture which includes public or private humiliation, shaming and saying negative remarks about the child or child’s family;
- Emotional punishments which include rejecting, ignoring or isolating the child from the rest of the group; and
- Allowing a child to discipline other children.
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN WEST VIRGINIA
- Cheat Lake
- Cross Lanes
- New Martinsville
- Oak Hill
- Pea Ridge
- South Charleston
- St Albans
- Teays Valley
For information, contact the following offices:
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Bureau for Children and Families Office of Children and Family Policy
Division of Early Care and Education
350 Capitol Street, B18
Charleston, WV 25301-3700
Family Child Care