Surprise! Virginia to begin unannounced inspections of church day-care centers

By Jaclyn Lee

The Virginia Department of Social Services announced the implementation of a new policy it says will better ensure the protection of Virginia’s children. Hundreds of religiously affiliated day cares that are exempt from licensure and don’t receive subsidies from the state now will be subject to surprise inspections.

Betsy Cummings is an advocate for stricter daycare regulations in the state of Virginia, particularly those associated with religious groups.

“If licensing or Department of Social Services is going to give rules but then not follow up on those rules to make sure they’re being done, I don’t really see the point in having a rule to begin with,” said Cummings.

In Virginia, religiously affiliated day cares don’t need a license to operate. Cummings had to learn that the hard way. In 2010, she took her 55-day-old son, Dylan, to Little Eagles Day Care in Norfolk, run by Bethel Temple Church of Deliverance. Hours later, she received a phone call that her son wasn’t breathing.

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