RICHMOND, JAN. 18 -- Key legislators say they are not prepared to increase regulation of child day care in Virginia, despite concerns voiced by state officials and child care advocates about the safety of children receiving care outside their families.

"No one is satisfied with the way it {child care regulation} is working," said Del. Mary A. Marshall (D-Arlington), but she added that she does not believe that the Virginia General Assembly will act on licensing this year.

Marshall, a senior member of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, said that a special House subcommittee on early child development issues will not address licensing and regulation in its first set of recommendations, expected this week.

Last summer, state licensing of all child care services, including individuals who care for children in their homes, was one of six recommendations made by a child care conference called by Gov. Gerald L. Baliles.

But the governor's proposed 1988-90 biennial budget does not include money for such a proposal, and the director of the state's Office of Children, Martha Norris Gilbert, said none is in the works for this year's session of the General Assembly.

Virginia has the least stringent regulations on child care in the region. The issue came to the forefront again with the death of 10-month-old Ashley Snead while in the care of a paid day care provider, Martha E. Guba of Fairfax County.

Guba was convicted of neglect in Fairfax Circuit Court on Friday.

The state does not regulate family day care providers who use their homes to care for five or fewer children. Arlington requires licensing of all family providers in the county, and Alexandria has mandated registration, but Fairfax County has neither.

The District of Columbia licenses all family day care providers, and Maryland requires registration.

The Guba case "makes it clear that whether you license or not, you have to train and supervise" day care providers, Marshall said.

But some state officials said that no amount of regulation, licensing and background checks by the government will eliminate tragedies.

"You can't protect against isolated instances. Someone is always going to slip through," said state Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), a member of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.

He opposed extending regulation to individuals caring for fewer than six children, saying that parents must be responsible for choosing the right person to care for their children.

"The word is always out in the community who does a good job and who doesn't," Saslaw said. "This is not a state that likes to go that route {of regulation}, and by and large we are better off for it."

He added that more regulation would discourage some people from providing the service, and that this would result in even fewer child care services at a time when they already are in short supply.

Others supported the idea of regulating all day care.

"If you take children in your home for pay, you should be subject to regulation," said Del. Warren Stambaugh (D-Arlington).

"There are a lot of kids like {Ashley Snead} in home situations, and they deserve protection as much as those in day care {centers}."

Although he said he has no plans to introduce legislation on this issue, Stambaugh said that family day care providers should be required to have certain qualifications and training and should have their homes inspected regularly.

He expressed doubts about the desirability of a criminal records check, however, saying that this would be difficult to do and would not weed out all bad day care providers.

Del. Leslie L. Byrne (D-Fairfax) said she is considering offering legislation to require fingerprinting and licensing of home day care providers.

The Children's Defense Fund, a national advocacy organization, has supported licensing and regulation for all family day care providers for some time.

"There are no guarantees in child care," said Amy Wilkins of the defense fund's national office, but she added that in Virginia "they have not even done the bare minimum for protecting children in child care on a statewide basis."

Staff writer Lee Hockstader contributed to this report.