Arlington is an urban county in Virginia, just 5 miles from Washington, D.C. across the Potomac River. Although it's a County, most people simply refer to it as "Arlington" and think of it as a city. It is the sixth-largest County and one of the most densely populated jurisdictions with 226,000 residents. The population is of diverse ethnic backgrounds and works mostly as federal government employees and contractors. Arlington is known for lengthy waitlists which can take up to 24 months and high cost of care, in part due to the expensive real estate in the area. The average price of child care in Arlington, VA, is $290 per week for full-time infant care
and $265 per week for 4-year-old children in preschool
. To find out the average cost of daycare or preschool in your specific zip code, click here to use our daycare cost calculator
The presence of various government offices and private corporations in Arlington offers many job opportunities. Surrounded by Fairfax County, Alexandria, and Washington, D.C. Arlington is home to world's largest office building (The Pentagon) and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. With a median household income of $108,700 per year, Arlington is considered the 5th highest-income County in the nation.
The County government recognizes that quality child care and early education is critical for children but also essential to the overall economic health of the community. The Arlington County Department of Human Services (DHS), therefore regulates child care providers through the Child Care Services Office. Providers caring for up to 3 children must get a Certificate of Approval, while early education programs for 4 to 9 children must be licensed by the County. It's a Class 1 misdemeanor for a child care facility to operate without permit or license. Note that the State of Virginia also requires a child care license when caring for more than 4 non-resident children, so programs in Arlington must follow both the County and State regulations.
There are 206 child care and preschool programs in Arlington, VA, either licensed by the State of Virginia or Arlington County. Those include 123 State-licensed programs (61 daycare centers
and 62 home daycares
) as well as 83 family child care and preschool programs with a County license or certificate. The staff working in Arlington licensed daycares must pass comprehensive background checks and meet minimum education and training requirements. They must also pass health and physical exams from certified medical practitioners. Licensed daycares are inspected at least twice a year to ensure compliance with regulations.
As in other parts of Virginia, Arlington is also home to unlicensed, yet regulated child care and preschools programs. Those include voluntarily registered family day homes, religious exempt child day centers, and certified preschools. Requirements exist but are less stringent for those unlicensed early education programs. For instance, voluntarily registered homes are inspected every two years (instead of twice a year for licensed facilities). Religious exempt and certified preschools are only inspected if there is a complaint.
In choosing a daycare or preschool, parents look for a curriculum, teaching philosophy, or other services that match their preferences and needs. One example could be families looking for a faith-based program where caregivers may offer religious education. In Arlington, there are 6 faith-based daycares or preschools. Seventeen inclusive child care facilities can provide specialized care for children with special needs
. The diverse ethnic background of Arlington residents is reflected in the many languages spoken by caregivers and early educators. There are 18 language immersion or bilingual daycares, which allow children to learn the language, culture, and traditions of other countries. Arlington is also home to 20 peanut-free or tree nut-free daycares
for children with allergies.
For low-income families, it is a struggle to afford the high cost of quality child care. Thankfully, government programs exist to help parents pay for child care or preschool while they work or continue their education. Income-eligible families can participate in the Child Care Subsidy Program and enroll their child in one of the 19 facilities accepting child care vouchers. Federally funded programs are also available that support school readiness and provide different services for different ages. Early Head Start is available for infant and toddlers, Head Start and State-Funded Pre-K programs serve children ages 3 to 5 years old.
Take a look at the chart below to see if you may qualify for financial assistance in Arlington (but be aware that there may be a waiting list to enroll in the child care subsidy program):
Household Size Maximum Monthly Gross Income