An unusual preschool program that has proliferated in Northern Virginia is aimed at helping "mothers who feel the need to be home the first three years of their babies' lives," said Pat Camp, a founder and former director of Parent's Day Out at the Arlington United Methodist Church.

These are not full-time day care programs, nor are they traditional nursery or Montessori schools. They are part-time facilities that cater to infants and children under 5.

In Fairfax County, it's called Mother's Day Out; in Arlington, Parent's Day Out, and one school in Alexandria goes by the acronym MOPS, for Mothers of Preschoolers.

Most of the programs were initiated [WORD ILLEGIBLE] by United Methodist and Southern Baptist congregations, which wanted to provide a baby-sitting service for members. The programs quickly grew to include non-church members.

"The mothers can just go home and put their feet up, if that's what they need. I knew one mother who used her time to paint her house," Camp said.

All of the programs are non-denominational. Religious instruction is not part of the school day in most cases, although there are some exceptions.

Vauda Lee Skinner, director of the Mother's Day Out program for the Calvary Hills Baptist Church, for example, said that even a 1-year-old can and should be introduced to the Bible and a concept of God.

Children in Mary Ellen Ward's group of 2-year-olds at the Trinity United Methodist Church MOPS program get their education mixed with fun. Block play teaches colors and shapes; music class teaches rhythm.

"Most people don't realize how social 2-year-olds really are," said Ward.

Children under 2 can file down the hall from classroom to activity room in an orderly line, she said. They pick up their own lunched, packed at home, and lug them to a long, low table where they all sit together. After the meal, they are asked to help clean up by throwing the litter into the garbage bin.

Patty Savage, who teaches the MOPS infant class, composed of 1-year-olds, said the children get a mix of social training and love.

"All they can do now is learn to get along with each other, with me and without their mothers. I don't believe in having a crafts project for this group when they can hardly sit in a chain," she said.

There are 14 Mother's Day Out Programs in the Mount Vernon Baptist Association. Directors recently have asked the association for a $300 line in the 1978 budget for teacher training workshops.

The programs grew up independently without the overall direction from either Methodist or Baptish church hierarchy. Carl Sapp, a retired government worker, set up the program at the Providence Baptist Church and later wrote a how-to article for the Baptist Church Administration Magazine. Camp and Sapp helped set up the Mother's Day Out at the Westover Baptist Church.

Since 1975, all Arlington Parent's Day Out programs must be licensed by the county Department of Human Resources. Unlike day care, these programs are not licensed by the state.

Mothers or fathers must participate on a rotating basis as classroom aides in most programs.

The cost works out to be less than a dollar an hour for a one or two-day-a-week program that lasts between three and five hours daily. Teachers usually are required to have no more than a high school diploma, but many have more training. Some are professional teachers on leave or out of work.

Many program directors, like Camp, insist that their teachers take special workshops each year. Teachers at Arlington United Methodist Parents' Day Out receive $68 a month for four days of work each month. Camp, as director, received $300 monthly for what is a full-time job. One third of this amount was supplied by the church, and the rest was drawn from tuition.

Camp's school is now in its 12th year and is probably the oldest program in Northern Virginia. "We started out in a shoebox," she said.

Mothers Day Out programs in all three localities, Arlington, Fairfax County and Alexandria, must meet county building and fire safety, environmental, health and food and nutrition standards. Special use permits are issued for these purposes in Alexandria and Fairfax County.

In Arlington, schools must meet additional requirements. Directors need either bachelor's degrees or special training and experience. Teachers must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and must attend specialized workshops while employed. The Arlington County Code also regulates Parent's Day Out activities, guaranteeing the children a routine that might include a period of active play, a rest period and a snack time.

Following is a list of programs in Northern Virginia. Directors of these programs may be able to provide information about additional existing or prosposed Mothers Day Out facilities in Northern Virginia.

Annandale United Methodist Church, 6935 Columbia Pike, Annandale. Telephone 256-8330. Accepts children 2 months-3 years.

Arlington United Methodist Church, S. Glebe Road and 8th Street, Arlington. Telephone 979-7527. Accepts children 3 months-4 years.

Belle View Baptist Church, 7415 Fort Hunt Rd., Alexandria. Telephone 768-4118. Accepts children 3 months-4 years.

Calvary Hills Baptist Church, 9301 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax. Telephone 323-1347. Accepts children 3 months-4 years.

Central United Methodist Cooperative, 4201 North Fairfax Dr., Arlington. Telephone 527-9734. Accepts children 3 months-5 years.

Fairfax Circle Baptist Church, 3110 Chichester La., Fairfax. Telephone 573-7372. Accepts children 3 months-4 years.

Fairlington United Methodist Church, 3900 King St., Alexandria. Telephone 671-8557. Summers only.

First Baptist Church of Alexandria, 2932 King St., Alexandria. Telephone 549-6646. Accepts children 6 months-4 years.

Lake Ridge Baptist Church, 12450 Clipper Dr., Woodbridge. Telephone (703) 494-8413. Accepts children 4 months-4 years.

McLean Baptist Church, 1326 Calder Rd., McLean. Telephone 356-3384. Accepts children 6 months-4 years.

Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, 1500 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington. Telephone 527-5508. Accepts children 3 months-3 years.

Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 2006 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria. Telephone 765-1101 mornings. Accepts children 4 months-3 years.

Ox Hill Baptist Church, 4101 Elwood Street, Chantilly. Telephone 378-5555. Accepts children 3 months-4 years.

Parkwood Baptist Church, 8726 Braddock Rd., Annandale. Telephone 978-8160. Accepts children 6 months-kindergarten.

Presbyterian Meeting House, 316S. Royal St., Alexandria. Telephone 549-6670. Accepts children 9 months-3 years.

Providence Baptist Church, 8120 Leesburg Pike, Vienna. 893-5330. Accepts children 6 months-4 years.

Ravensworth Baptist Church, 5100 Ravensworth Rd., Annandale. Telephone 941-4113. Accepts children 4 months-4 years.

St. John's United Methodist Church, 5312 Backlick Rd., Springfield. telephone 354-2844, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Accepts children 1 year-3 years.

St. Matthews United Methodist Church, 8617 Little River Turnpike, Annandale. Telephone 978-3500. Accepts children 1 year-4 years.

St. Stephens's United Methodist Church, 9203 Braddock Rd., Burke. Telephone 978-9024. Accepts children 6 months-4 years.

Springfield United Methodist Church, 7047 Old Keene Mill Rd., Springfield. Telephone 569-3479 morning; 278-8357 afternoons. Accepts children 2 months-3 years.

Vienna Baptist Church, 541 Marshall Rd. SW, Vienna. Telephone 281-2021. Accepts infants-pre-kindergarten.

Virginia Hills Baptist Church, 6507 Telegraph Rd., P.O. Box 10008, Alexandria. Telephone 971-4223. Accepts children 10 months-4 years.

Walker Chapel United Methodist Church, 4102 N. GLebe Rd., Arlington.Telephone 538-5200. Accepts children 12 months-4 years.

Westover Baptist Church, 1125 N. Patrick Henry Dr., P.O. Box 5548, Arlington. Telephone 536-7114. Accepts children 6 months-3 years.

Westwood Baptist Church, 8200 Old Keene Mill Rd., Springfield. Telephone 569-0721, 451-5120. Accepts 3 months-kindergarten.