Creating your Daycare Handbook (Daycare#3)

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Having a contract for your daycare is essential. It protects you as a provider, your home, and the family to whom you are providing the care. Make sure it lays out EVERYTHING pertaining to your daycare so there are no questions or surprises later on from parents. The contract needs to be designed specifically to explain everything about your center, and cover all the bases in regards to care.

The Handbook

With my personal home daycare, I wrote a handbook to highlight all of the areas that parents frequently question. I chose to create a printable version in order for parents to browse it at their leisure, and to introduce prospective new families to my center before coming for an interview.

I began with a letter welcoming prospective new families to my center. I included my philosophy about my center, explained my goals for their children and issued my contact information. The next page went a little further into detail about my program statement and philosophy. I described how I came up with my programming, what sorts of activities parents could expect their children to be doing, and gave them a glimpse into a sample daily schedule. I also touched on the secret Facebook page where parents could see what their children were doing throughout the day, and I also mention an app that I use to help parents keep record of their meals, sleep and more.

The next section speaks of my hours of operation, and days that I am closed. I also touch on provider holidays and what I have decided in regards to a sick day policy. The great thing about home daycare is that I am able to create my own schedule, and the parents decide if it is applicable to their needs. I personally request three days of paid sick care, and three days of paid personal leave. I also have two weeks of paid holidays a year, and the dates are set out far in advance.

The next section describes my fees, and explains what those fees cover. It also covers the topic of late fees, and make sure that you are firm on that policy because some parents will take advantage. Document how you request payment and when you request payment. Upon signing, I request two weeks fees in advance, that way if the parents do not pay for their following two weeks worth of care, you are not losing any money and can deny further care.

I then continue on to describe my arrival and departure routine. I invoked something called a “time contract” where parents let me know roughly what hours of care they need in order for me to adjust my hours for other families if some families need earlier care. I also mention parents should let me know by 9 am whether or not their child is attending care that day. I then touch on various policies including emergency contact information, admission policies, discharge policies and withdrawal policies.

I have a brief blurb describing my disciplinary practices. Personally I believe that discipline should be issued on a child basis, and adhere to their developmental level. Corporal punishment and confinement should NEVER be tolerated. Make sure you specify exactly what guidelines you follow in your policy and ask parents how they discipline so you can be on the same page.

Then comes the medical jargon. I give brief explanations about proper clothing for both summer and winter months, when I close my climbing equipment, how I apply sunscreen and how I administer medication if required. I then describe my sick policy regarding children, and explain what ailments are excluded from daycare and when they can return to daycare. Include a description of your menu, and provide examples of your menu. It’s wise to mention whether or not you’re a peanut free facility. This will help parents decide whether or not your center is a good fit if their child has allergies.

Custody battles and court orders are more and more common these days. Make sure you have it in writing what parents or guardians have custody, a copy of that custody record and a list of people that cannot have access or pick up the children. You are responsible for their care!

Have a detailed explanation of the different programs you offer, if applicable. Personally, I divided it into Infant/Young Toddler, and Older Toddler/Preschool. I also have a small blurb about my before and after school program.

Last but not least, I have a small section describing myself. I list my credentials, my training, past experience and a bit about my personal life. I try to paint a small picture for my potential clients and future families to see before meeting me in person.

In summary:

  • Introduction (a welcome letter is always a personal touch).
  • Program statement and philosophy.
  • Daily schedule.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Personal sick day, personal day and holiday policy.
  • Fees.
  • Arrival and departure routine.
  • Custody and legal paperwork.
  • Admission and discharge policy.
  • Disciplinary practices.
  • Describing sick policy for children, cleaning routine, menu, and proper attire.
  • Detailed descriptions of individual programs.
  • A small biography about yourself and your family to help your prospective family get to know you a bit better.

That’s it! If there’s anything else you think I should include, feel free to leave a comment down below.

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