Alexandria, VA is located along the western bank of the Potomac River, about 7 miles north of the nation's capital. The location is ideal for many professionals working in the D.C. metro area. The city has an estimated population of 151,300, supported by 574 regulated child care and preschool programs. Although daycare is more affordable than in neighboring Washington, D.C.
, child care costs in Alexandria are one of the nation's highest. The average cost of full-time infant care is $18,460 per year for daycare centers
and $14,300 for home daycares
. When children reach preschool
age, costs decrease significantly: the average tuition for a 4-year old is $14,040 per year for centers and $11,700 for in-home preschools. To find out the average cost of care in your zip code, click here to use our daycare cost calculator
Alexandria is surrounded by Arlington County and Fairfax County. The southern and western parts of Alexandria are under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and separate from the (smaller) city itself, sometimes referred to as the "City of Alexandria." Some of Alexandria's largest employers are the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Defense and Inova Health Systems. The town's median household income is around $89,000. Currently, there are 109 state-licenses child care centers, 160 state-licensed home daycares, 231 caregivers with a Fairfax County permit, and 74 family child care programs with a registration from the City of Alexandria.
Family child care providers within Fairfax County who care for children in exchange for compensation are required by law to operate with a Fairfax County permit. Such a permit allows caregivers to care for up to 4 non-resident children. In the City of Alexandria, the Early Childhood Division requires registration for family child care homes providing care for 4 or fewer children (the maximum capacity varies depending on the facility). When caring for more than 4 children, whether in a home or center, the Commonwealth of Virginia requires child care businesses to operate with a State license. This applies to child care programs within the limits of Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria. The maximum number of children typically exclude resident children, though they may be counted in the teacher-to-child ratio, depending on their age.
In Alexandria and other cities in Virginia, there are also various unlicensed but regulated child care and preschool programs. Those include certified preschools, religiously exempt child day centers, and voluntarily registered family day homes. These programs must also meet specific requirements to be registered, such as background checks and specific health & safety requirement. Typically, though, the requirements aren't as stringent as a state license and inspections aren't as frequent. The Virginia Department of Social Services regulates all licensed and registered child care facilities. VDSS conducts 2 or more annual routine inspections of licensed programs, except for religiously exempt centers and certified preschools (those usually only get inspected if there is a complaint.)
Daycare centers care for 2 or more children in a facility other than the provider's residence. State-licensed family day homes provide care in a home setting for 5 to 12 children who are either in the home of the provider or of any children in care. Families who require extended hours have options in 106 facilities that offer before and after school care services. During the summer holidays, kids can have fun in one of the 5 facilities offering a structured Summer Camp. Families looking to introduce their child to a foreign language may consider one of the 35 bilingual daycares in Alexandria with language-immersion programs in Spanish
, or Arabic
to list a few. Parents wanting their child to learn about a specific faith may be interested in one of the 35 religious daycares, while children with special needs
would be welcome in 87 inclusive child care facilities.
In general, in-home daycares are more flexible in terms of schedule and may offer more individualized attention due to the smaller number of children. Cost is also crucial for families, which is why many will opt for child care homes, generally more affordable than center-based daycares or preschools. Low-income families have the opportunity to enroll their children in 81 child care facilities accepting subsidy vouchers in Alexandria.