Have you ever been the daycare parent running one kid to preschool, one kid to daycare, commuting to work, and rushing back to get kids before your 9 hours were up? I have, and it’s not easy. So I empathize with my daycare parents. BUT, I still need daycare policies in and parent handbook and so do you. Keep reading to learn more!
Why You Need a Parent Handbook
Unfortunately, people will more than likely take advantage of you soon or later. You might have some awesome parents that will become good friends. I guarantee you’ll also end up with at least a couple that will try to take advantage of your business. A handbook lets parents know what you expect from them and exactly what services you do and don’t provide.
Cover Your Butt
So write up a parent handbook that includes all of your policies and give parents a copy when they interview. Put a page in your contract that says they read the parent handbook and make them sign it.
A written record of your daycare policies gives you an out when you
want need to terminate a family. It also gives you something to fall back on if parents are disrespecting you or your business. Read more about avoiding conflict with daycare parents here.
I started my own daycare business with little mentoring support. Since then, I’ve met some great mentors and done some advising of my own. I also belong to some awesome daycare groups on Facebook. These suggestions come from all of my experiences and those of my friends and acquaintances all bundled up together.
Sign In and Sign Out
Most food programs and state assistance programs require this, anyway. A sign in sheet does not have to be complicated. Grab a clipboard from the dollar store and keep it by your door with a pen. This is going to give you a record in case someone argues when it comes time to pay up. Get my free editable PDF sign in sheet below!
Parents will try to sneak in sick kids and whine about having to stay home when their kid has a fever. Better safe than sorry, though! Most daycare policies are 24 hours fever free to return to care. For an infection, 24 hours on an antibiotic before returning to care.
When you are severely outnumbered by children, nap time is necessary for recuperating in order to make it through the rest of the day! Tell parents and kids that if they don’t want to nap, that’s fine. However, make it a rule that the kids stay on their mat (or an area you specify).
Read more about Why Your Kids Need to Nap – And How to Get Them To Do It.
Make sure parents know to send their child in weather-appropriate clothes and shoes. You’d think this is common sense, but I see this complaint pretty frequently in the daycare groups I belong to. Also, have parents send a change of clothes for each kid to keep at your home.
Minimum Days Per Week
Almost every daycare I know of has this policy. If you’re counting on daycare for income to pay bills, it’s a must. A kid that comes twice a week means loss of a potential kid who could come 3 or 5 days a week. Don’t feel bad about charging 3+ days a week even if they attend less – it’s a very common business practice.
Late Pickup Fees
Get your kids’ schedules ahead of time and make the parents stick to them. It’s so frustrating to sit around waiting for someone to be dropped off. Late pickup is even worse because you can’t go about the rest of your life when you’re still on the clock. Set a fee per minute or quarter hour or however you want to do it – but make sure you have one. I had one parent that would show up HOURS late giving me a lame excuse. Trust me on this.
Late Payment Fees
I know adulting and balancing a checkbook and all that is no fun. Repeat after me: Not my problem. In other words, “I’m sorry that you’re having trouble this week. Your payment is still due on Friday and I’m afraid Johnny won’t be able to stay until your bill is paid.”
This is the biggie. If you try to be the nice person and let someone run up a balance, you’ll probably never see the majority of that money. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Unless you really like the person. Then, maybe. But only if you do it as a gift, because otherwise it could ruin your friendship.
Vacation Time and Holidays
A lot of providers include in their contract that parents pay 2 weeks of vacation and major holidays as if normal daycare days. As a provider, it shows that you take your business seriously. It is absolutely acceptable to have a policy in place to cover your own sick days, vacation time, and holidays, just like any other job.
Outside Toys and Food
This one is important to me, but I know some other providers don’t care. Typically when I see children arriving with food or drink, it’s something loaded with sugar. Toys that are brought from home are almost always fought over. I really prefer things from home to stay at home.
Creating Your Handbook
Using a Template
Because I created my handbook from a template I received through a mentor, I can’t share it with you. Basically, it’s just a long list of policies! You may be able to find a template through a mentor, state start up program, or online.
Creating your Own Parent Handbook
Start a new Microsoft Word document. Make the front page a short, warm welcome letter to your program.
Add policies as you think of them. Cover everything from payments to what time you open and close and what kids can leave in their cubbies. Write in terms that are easy to read and understand. Then when you’re done you can go back and organize into sections if you need to.
Daycare Parent Handbook
I hope that this information was helpful for you! Do you have any questions about daycare policies, parent handbooks? Did I forget a policy that that needs mentioning in this post? Use the box below to comment on this post now!