Four Tips in Making the best Parent Handbook for Family Childcare Centers

After talking with providers and coaches on the needs of family child care providers. I see that there is a significant need for providers to understand the importance of policies and procedures. The sad thing about this is that being a provider, it is hard to take the time out to think about the information that needs to be in this paperwork. The good thing about it is that there are templates already out there that can help you throughout the process and then you are reading this blog which is going to help you plan out what you want in that handbook or policy and procedures.

First, let’s think about what is a handbook and what is it used for in family child care or even in a center. A handbook is a listing of what your expectation is for your business on each end. Having separate handbooks for parents and staff is imperative. This will explain your expectations and rules for your home center or for your facility. The good thing about this is that you get to make the rules. (To some extent. Do remember that there are licensing regulations that you definitely have to think about)
You also want to explain your deliveries and what you base your services on. What makes you the best provider for their child? Your philosophy and how you believe that your services are exceptional compared to other facilities is what you want to explain in this area. Making sure you define your goals and ambitions here as well. This usually goes at the beginning of the handbook so that parents and even staff can understand what you as a provider are all about.

Now as I talk about the topics in this you will need to think about your state’s regulations and what are you required to do as a provider. Each state is different, and you will want to check with your state’s regulation to make sure that your information is correct. I feel like it is essential that you put information about regulations in your handbooks so that parents understand the meaning behind it. An example of this would be if they are to fill out a medication sheet before you are allowed to give medicine to a child because of state regulations then you need to explain one, that it is a state regulation but two, It is to make sure that you cover yourself and you have the parent’s permission in writing. Over the years I have found that many of the regulations are in place not because they are trying to give us more work but because they are trying to save us as providers from further issues and to help us cover our business and selves.

The second thing that you need to think about is what are the rules and regulations of your business. Remember, This is your business. It may be your home, but it is also your business. It is your lively hood, and you have to keep that sacred. I remember being a family child care provider and I became wore out quickly because I didn’t take out the time to have my home or time just for my family at my home because we always had other children at our house. So make sure you are very clear about your rules. One of the biggest things that I can say about this is if you don’t think you can hold up to the expectations that you put forth or that you will let parents slide, then don’t put it in here. If they know the rules and you allow them not to follow them then you might as well not have a handbook. The following are things to think about when answering this question.

• Hours
• Fees
• When fees are to be paid
• What happens if they don’t get paid
• Who can and can not pick up
• The documentation that you require before a child can stay
• What the parent need to bring every day
• Meal times
• Drop off and pick up times if you require specifics
• Daily routine information
• Diapering information
• Field trip information if you do so
• Discipline procedures
• Drill information
• Emergency evacuation information
• Enrollment procedures
• Holidays
• Medications
• Illness policy
• Birthdays
• Personal items
• Biting
• Proper attire
• Weather policy
• Health and safety
• Parent and caregiver communication
• Learning Experiences
• Toileting
• Naptime
• Withdrawal
• Trial period
• Absent
• House rules open door policy

Man, that seems like a lot of different topics. Well, this is true, but it is important that your parents an even staff are informed and that you have a way of backing yourself up on the rules.
The third thing that I stress is that you go over key aspects with your parents and have them initial like a contract and then have them sign it. You keep a copy, and then the parent holds a copy so that you both can stay on top of the expectations.
Forth, Make sure that you keep the signed copy in the child’s file. This is not to say that a parent will ever do something that they are not supposed to but you never know. This is to keep you covered and your home and business covered.