Loudoun County will begin this fall to offer training to child-care providers, the most active role the government has taken so far in working with the county's burgeoning child-care industry.

A training conference is scheduled for Sept. 8, according to Ellen Grunewald of the county's Department of Social Services. In preparation, the county has formed an official child-care providers group, which met last month to discuss training and coordination of services.

The group consists of representatives from county agencies involved in day care and providers from privately run day-care centers and homes.

An estimated 7,610 children in the county receive care in centers or private homes. The county held its first public forum on child care in May.

"The child-care business is really taking off in Loudoun County," Grunewald said. "We're trying to get in on this issue before there is this big boom."

According to a report released last spring by the Loudoun County Commission on Women and the Reston-based national consulting firm Fried & Scher Inc., the boom is coming. The report said the county must prepare for an estimated 62 percent increase in the preschool population and a 90 percent increase in the elementary schoolage population by 1995. At least 60 percent of those children are expected to need child care.

Social Services Director Carmen Nazario said her agency will work through the county's new child-care providers group to keep its members informed of services offered by the county. Social Services provides some money for financially strapped parents who can't afford day care.

Social Services also provides personnel who give respite day care, for parents who need substitute day care, and offer day-care services for foster parents. The county does not require providers to be registered, but four years ago it began operating a registration program in which the county makes an annual visit to the provider's home and checks the provider's background before issuing an approval. A list is made available to parents.

Patty Conner of Sterling, who has been providing home day care for five years, is among those registered by the county. She said the county should include publicizing the registration program among its top priorities.

"They are not doing a good job of advertising the fact that there are county-approved providers," Conner said.

Two years ago, Conner helped form a support and information group for home child-care providers in the county. The group, which draws between 20 and 80 people, meets once a month to hear speakers and to talk about child care. It is affiliated with the Northern Virginia Family Daycare Association, a private network of home providers across the region.

Conner said members of the Loudoun group have complained about the county's lack of attention to day-care providers. She said she welcomed the new county providers group as a positive step, but was dismayed that she heard about it from a reporter.

"We're the largest {informal providers} group and I haven't heard about it," she said. "The county has a long way to go."

Conner's group, which has no official name and collects no dues, has brought in a tax accountant to instruct members in filling out tax forms, a lawyer to talk about the legal issues a provider may face, and a Red Cross instructor for CPR and first aid training.

Diane Ryburn, a recreation programs coordinator with the Department of Parks and Recreation, an agency that manages three child-care centers as well as the county's CASA (County After School Activities) program for school-age children, said her agency has been meeting since March with representatives from privately run day-care centers. That group evolved into a larger network, including more county agencies and home providers, after the May child-care forum. "The first thing we decided to tackle was the training," Ryburn said.

The September conference will address issues including parental relations, alternatives to discipline, program planning, classroom management, for center-based providers, and nutrition, Ryburn said. She said sharing of information also will be part of the program.

For example, she said, the department, which does not take infants, could refer callers to providers who do. She said that type of coordination is often lacking in the county's child-care industry, one problem providers involved in the new network hope to eradicate.

Ryburn said the network plans to work with the Commission on Women, which is developing a task force to develop proposals for improving child care in Loudoun. The Parks and Recreation Department is about to open a fourth child-care center, at the Douglass Community Center in Leesburg. "We'll have to wait and see what further role the county will take," she said.