Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 20. State Board of Education
Chapter 780. Standards for Licensed Child Day Centers

8VAC20-780-350. Staff-to-children ratio and group size requirements.

A. The maximum group size limitations specified in Table 1 shall be followed whenever children are in care.

TABLE 1. Maximum Group Size Requirements


Maximum Group Size


Birth up to 16 months



16 months up to 24 months



2 year olds



3 year olds up to school age eligible


B. The staff-to-children ratios specified in Table 2 are required whenever children are in care.

TABLE 2. Ratio Requirements


Ratio (staff: children)


Birth up to 16 months



16 months up to 24 months



2 year olds



3 year olds up to school age eligible



School age eligible up to 9 years



9 years through 12 years


C. When children are in ongoing mixed age groups, the staff-to-children ratio and group size applicable to the youngest child in the group shall apply to the entire group.

D. Group size limitations shall not apply during:

1. Designated rest periods as described in this section;

2. Outdoor activity as described in 8VAC20-780-370, 8VAC20-780-380, and 8VAC20-780-390;

3. Transportation and field trips as described in 8VAC20-780-580;

4. Meals and snacks served as described in 8VAC20-780-560; or

5. Special group activities, or during the first and last hour of operation when the center operates more than six hours per day.

E. Group size requirements in subsection A of this section do not apply to children school age eligible through 12 years of age.

F. The center shall develop and implement a written policy and procedure that describes how the center will ensure that each group of children receives care by consistent staff or team of staff members.

G. Staff shall be counted in the required staff-to-children ratios only when they are directly supervising children.

H. A child volunteer 13 years of age or older not enrolled in the program shall not be counted as a child in the staff-to-children ratio requirements.

I. For children ages 16 months through preschool age, during the designated rest period, when children are resting or in an inactive state, the following rest period ratios are permitted if the requirements of subsections J through N of this section are met:

1. Children 16 through 24 months of age: one staff per 10 children.

2. Children two years of age: one staff per 16 children.

3. Children of preschool age: one staff per 20 children.

J. Staff required by rest period ratios shall be within sight and sound at all times in the same space as the resting or sleeping children.

K. In addition to the staff required by rest period ratios, an additional staff member shall always be available on-site to offer immediate assistance. The staff required by rest period ratios shall be able to summon the additional staff member without leaving the room or area of the sleeping or resting children.

L. Once at least half of the children in the resting room or area are awake and off their mats or cots, the staff-to-children ratio shall meet the ratios as required in subsection B of this section.

M. One staff member shall not supervise more than one room or area during rest time.

N. Centers providing evening and overnight care shall meet the requirements of subsections I through this subsection N of this section during sleep periods.

O. The ratio for balanced-mixed-age groupings of children shall be one staff member for every 14 children provided:

1. The center has additional staff who are readily accessible in the event of an emergency to maintain a ratio of one staff member for every 10 children when three-year-olds are included in the balanced-mixed-age group; and

2. The lead teacher has received at least eight hours of training in classroom management of balanced-mixed-age groupings.

P. A maximum group size of 28 shall be followed whenever children in care are in balanced-mixed-age groupings.

Q. With a parent's written permission and a written assessment by the program director and program leader, a center may choose to assign a child to a different age group if such age group is more appropriate for the child's developmental level and the staff-to-children ratio and group size shall be for the established age group.

1. If such developmental placement is made for a child with a special need, a written assessment by a recognized agency or professional shall be required at least annually. These assignments are intended to be a permanent new group and staff members for the child.

2. A center may temporarily reassign a child from his regular group and staff members for reasons of administrative necessity but not casually or repeatedly disrupt a child's schedule and attachment to his staff members and group.

Statutory Authority

§§ 22.1-16 and 22.1-289.046 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Former 22VAC15-30-440 derived from VR175-08-01 § 5.3, eff. November 1, 1993; amended, Virginia Register Volume 12, Issue 4, eff. March 1, 1996; Volume 14, Issue 21, eff. September 1, 1998; Volume 21, Issue 12, eff. June 1, 2005; amended and renumbered as 22VAC40-185-350, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 1, eff. November 1, 2012; amended and renumbered Volume 37, Issue 24, eff. July 1, 2021; Volume 38, Issue 2, eff. October 13, 2021.

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