Child Care Agreement Between Provider and Parent
Family Child Care Contracts & Policies
A family child care provider is actually the owner of a small business. As a small business owner, it is recommended that you have a written contract and program policies to help you communicate effectively with parents.
Contracts and policies are two different things:
- Contract: the agreement to provide child care as well as the cost
- Policies: the rules that describe how the provider and parent will care for the child.
Contracts should include the following components:
- Names and ages of the child(ren) to be cared for
- The parent(s)/guardian(s) contact information
- Payment information – to include:
- when payment is due (usually, it is recommended that payment is paid in advance of services)
- overtime rates, and late pick-up fees
- rates for holidays, vacations, and other absences of both the child and the provider (a calendar of closings can also be included)
- other charges (fees for field trips, etc)
- deposits (it is recommended that a 2 week deposit be collected upon enrollment which covers the last two weeks of care provided)
- Termination procedures – to include:
- the provider’s right to end the child care arrangement in a relatively short amount of time for any reason (e.g. two week notice)
- a statement saying that parents/guardians must pay you during the termination period whether or not the child attends during that time
- the provider’s right to terminate care without giving any notice when a parent is behind in making payments
When creating your contract, it is not recommended that an ending date be added. If you forget to sign an updated contract after the ending date, you will then be working without a valid contract.
Signatures of both the parent(s)/guardian(s) and the provider Written contracts are not enforceable until they are signed by both parties. They also are not enforceable against a minor. If the parent is under age 18, a co-signer can be required and is responsible for any missed payments.
Your contract can be as simple or detailed as you prefer. Click here to see a sample contract to help you create your own contract.
Policies describe the rules about how care will be given
Your policies are usually a separate document from your contract. Policies help clarify what the expectations are for you, the provider, and the families you serve. Each provider will create policies that fit their program
Some policies you will want to set without input from parents. For example:
- Medical record requirements: updated physical/immunizations, etc.
- Spare set of clothes kept at program
- Child abuse and neglect mandated reporter information
Some policies you might want to set with input from parents. For example:
- Feeding and sleep schedule of an infant
- What diaper cream to use
- How to handle toilet training
If you have set a policy, it is important to follow through on it. Otherwise, parents will get the impression that your policies are only optional rather than mandatory
Some providers create many policies for their family child care business; others choose to have only a few. The information below can be a guide for policies you may want to include:
- What will you as the provider do to reduce illness?
- When is it appropriate for you to send a sick child home?
- When do children need to be excluded from the program because of illness?
- When are children allowed to return to child care after an illness?
- What happens if the child is injured?
- How are emergencies handled?
- What will you do if you become sick?
- Will the families be charged for that time?
- Will you provide them with names and numbers of other providers willing to take their children?
- Is there a substitute or back up person who will come into the home and run the child care?
- What type of records do you need to keep on file?
- How often are these records updated?
- How often are the children playing outside and where are they playing?
- What are the safety rules for outdoor play equipment?
- What weather related items should families supply for outdoor play? (e.g. - sunscreen, bathing suit, towel, mittens, hats, snow pants, snow boots, etc.)
Trips outside the family child care home:
- Will the provider ever transport children? To where? How frequently?
- What vehicle will be used?
- What car seats will be used and who supplies them?
- What are the rules about seatbelts, etc.?
- Do you require the parent to sign a permission form?
Toys from home:
- Which toys (if any) are allowed to be brought from home?
- How will they be shared with the other children?
- Are any types of toys not allowed to be brought in?
- What are the mealtimes? How is the schedule modified for individual needs?
- Who provides the food for each meal? Snacks?
- How are dietary restrictions handled? Food allergies?
- Does the provider participate in the Child and Adult Food Program?
- How are the parents notified on what their child ate that day?
- What are the expectations for rest and nap time by age of child?
- Where will children rest/nap? What equipment is used (e.g. – couch, cot, mat, etc)
- Who supplies the bedding?
- Who launders the bedding?
- What comfort toys are allowed at rest/nap time?
- How long will rest time last?
- What equipment is used for toilet learning (e.g. – regular toilet with insert seat, potty chair, etc.)?
- What are the expectations for toilet learning?
- Will any reward systems be used?
- When will it be appropriate for the child to transition out of diapers into underwear? Are pull-ups allowed?
- What terminology will be used to describe body parts and body functions?
- Who supplies diapers and wipes?
- How often are diapers changed?
- Where are children changed?
- What is the sanitizing procedure after diapering?
- What activities will the children participate in?
- What materials are available for the various ages?
- What learning goals will the provider work on with each child?
- How can parents support the learning that happens at the family child care program?
- What is the daily schedule?
- Who supplies spare clothes?
- Who supplies consumable materials such as paper, crayons, etc.?
Guiding children’s behavior:
- What rules/limits are used within the child care program?
- How are they explained to the children?
- What strategies does the provider use to guide children toward positive behavior?
- How are concerns communicated to the family?
- Does the provider have a substitute or back up provider?
- When is this person utilized?
- What are the responsibilities of the provider if child abuse/neglect is suspected?
- Will the family be notified if a report has been made?
- What happens if a parent knows in advance that they will be late to pick up their child?
- Who else is authorized to pick up the child besides the parents?
- What happens if no one is reachable and the child has not yet been picked up?
- What are the fees for late pick ups with or with out notification?
- What type of policy is there for a parent to notify you if there has been a change in phone number, work information, address, etc?
- If you have a swimming pool or plan to do water activities, what are your policies for this? Do the parents fill out a release to allow their child to participate?
- If you plan on taking pictures or videotaping the children to display, do the parents need to sign a release?
- Will you be open on snow days? What is the policy for closing?
When a child is first enrolled in your family child care program, it is important that you and the parent review your contract and policies in detail. This will help you:
- ensure that parents understand your expectations
- explain any unclear policies to the parent prior to enrollment
As you review the documents, you can have the parent sign and date each page to ensure they understand what is being discussed. Some family child care providers like to review this information with families every six months or at least once a year. If you feel that you need to make changes to your contract or to your policies, it is helpful if you give parents 2-4 weeks notice of the change so they can plan accordingly.
Contracts and policies are sometimes discussed at family child care association meetings – groups of family child care providers who get together regularly to share information, resources, and offer general support. If you are interested in joining a local association, contact 2-1-1 Child Care and a referral specialist can help you locate an association close to or in your community.
Your contracts and policies may not be the only documents you create to run your business. For instance, some documents may be required by the Department of Public Health (e.g. health forms, emergency contact info, etc) or other forms may be needed for your particular program (e.g. authorization to provide transportation, permission to partake in water activities, etc).
Keep in mind these documents are tools that help ensure effective communication between you and the families you serve.