Child care centers and family day care homes with a capacity of 6 or more children require County Board approval of a special exception use permit before a certificate of occupancy can be issued.
There are several steps to obtaining approval of a use permit.
Submission & Review Process
STEP 1: Pre-Submission
Before formally submitting a use permit application for a new child care center or family day care home, staff recommends scheduling a Child Care Consultation through the Child Care Licensing Office. This consultation will inform you if there are potential issues that might pose a problem with opening your child care at the planned location. If you will be doing construction prior to opening, your contractor can schedule a Code Consultation with the Inspection Services to address any building code issues.
STEP 2: Submit Use Permit Application
Use permit applications are filed with Zoning Administration. Zoning reviews and processes complete applications, which are then sent to an assigned planner with the Current Planning Team. It typically takes 60-90 days from the date of filing for a use permit to be heard by the County Board. Submitting an incomplete application can result in a delay in the use permit approval process.
STEP 3: Use Permit Application Review
The planner assigned to your use permit will notify you of the review progress, likely ask additional questions about your proposal and outreach efforts, and inform you about the status of your use permit application leading up to the County Board public hearing. The assigned planner will also notify you whether your application is approved on the Consent Agenda, the Regular Agenda or will be heard at the Recess Meeting.
STEP 4: County Board Meeting
Most use permits are scheduled for the Consent Agenda as a part of the Saturday meeting. Applicants do not need to attend this meeting. However, it is possible that an item can be pulled from the Consent Agenda, in which case it will be heard by the Board at the Recess meeting on the following Tuesday (no earlier than 6:30 p.m.). Applicants are required to attend this meeting in case the Board has any questions. If your item is pulled, staff will communicate to you when to arrive and what to expect. In some cases, an item could be scheduled on the Regular County Board Agenda, and heard either at the Saturday or Tuesday meeting. Staff will know the agenda approximately 1.5 weeks in advance of the scheduled Board meeting. To be safe, keep both the Saturday morning and the Tuesday evening free. Planning staff will notify you of the Board’s decision and send a link to the staff report.
What to Expect “After the Hearing”
After the County Board hearing, Planning staff will email a link to the staff report, which will allow you to move forward with your certificate of occupancy and other licensing processes. The official approval of the minutes will not take place until the following month (i.e. while an application is approved at the March meeting, the official minutes won’t be approved until April), so staff recommends keeping a copy of the staff report on hand until the minutes are available.
Currently, all child care and family day care home special exception use permits are scheduled on a 1, 3, and 5 year review cycle, which means the use permit will go back for review in front of the County Board. During a review, you’ll receive a visit from Zoning Enforcement staff to check for compliance with the use permit conditions.
An application for a child care center or family day care home with 6 or more children must be accompanied by a letter from the Office of Child Care Services with the Department of Human Services (DHS). This letter will indicate that Child Care Services staff is confident that the potential provider understands the County codes that apply to child care centers (Chapter 52) and/or family day care homes (Chapter 59) and that Child Care Services supports the proposed use. Applicants should also reach out to neighbors and the Civic Association where the use will be located to get support for the proposed use. Planning staff will review applications for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance, including parking requirements, and other potential impacts. Use permits are reviewed regularly by Planning staff and the County Board, and a provider must be in compliance with all requirements, including those of the Office of Child Care Services, in order to receive a favorable recommendation.
Use Permit application submission requirements:
- Properly filled out and signed Disclosure Statement
- Fully completed Supplement Information sheet
- Plat of existing site conditions and any proposed improvements
- Letter/Statement of Support from local Civic Association; or, provide evidence of outreach or why no civic associations are affected by the proposed use.
- List of outdoor play equipment or pictures of park facilities, if alternatives are used
- Pictures of interior and exterior of property (that is used for child care)
- Pictures and description of current parking plan
- Memo of Support from County Child Care Office
- Permission from Landlord (if operating out of a rented commercial space or residential rental unit)
If you are already operating a Child Care Center or Family Day Care Home, and amending your existing use permit, include the following:
- Copy of current Certificate of Occupancy
- Support letters from neighboring tenants and/or current clientele
TIPS: In order to ensure transparency and proper documentation, the bulk of communication with staff will be through email. Please provide an email address that you check regularly, and be ready to respond to questions in a timely manner.
APPLY IN-PERSON: Use Permit Application
Arlington County Ellen M. Bozman Government Center
CPHD – Zoning Division
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1000
Arlington, VA 22210
703-228-3883 | email