PARENT-PROVIDER CONTRACTS AND POLICIES
Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.
Family Life Extension Specialist
Human Development and Family Studies
Iowa State University
Many family child care providers balk at the idea of using a contract because it seems too cold and business-like. However, the primary purpose of a contract is communication. When providers and parents put their expectations in writing, misunderstandings are easily avoided.
A contract is an agreement that defines the terms of actual care and payment between a caregiver and parents. If necessary, a contract can be used in court to seek payment of damages if the contract is broken.
- name, address, phone of child and parents or guardians
- payment rates, fees, deposits
- time of care - days or dates
- termination procedures
- signatures of parents/guardians
- signature of provider
- date of signature
- What hours/days/months will I provide care?
- How much will I charge for basic child care for infants or toddlers or for a second or third child in the family?
- When will I collect?
- Will there be a fee for late pickups?
- Will I charge for days when children are ill or on vacation? Will I charge for days when I am ill or on vacation?
- Will there be an extra charge for meals or diapers, or other supplies?
Once you have decided your response to these questions, you are ready to prepare a basic contract.
It is best to review contracts verbally with parents and have them sign two copies, one for each of you. You are then assured that parents were made aware of your contract expectations and had an opportunity to ask questions.
Many child care professionals find it helpful to share a policy statement with parents. Such a statement lays some ground rules and helps parents understand the provider's views and practices concerning child care. Form B is a sample Child Care Policy Statement.
The following are items you may want to consider when developing a policy statement.
ACTIVITIES: What will your daily schedule be? What types of activities will you do with children?
FOOD: Will you provide snacks and meals, or should parents take care of that? If you register with the Department of Human Services, you may be eligible to participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which partially reimburses you for the meals and snacks that you serve to the children in your care.
ADMINISTERING MEDICATIONS: Medications can be given only with the parent's or doctor's direct written authority. This should include the name of the medication, amount to be given, and time to be administered.
EMERGENCY POLICY: You need permission to seek emergency medical care for a child in the event that a parent cannot be reached. You should write an emergency form that parents need to fill out. You should have a backup person to care for the other children in case you have to take a child to the hospital. Local hospitals may have their own emergency forms and may not accept any others. Check with them first.
ILLNESS POLICY: How will you handle children who become sick during the day or who arrive sick? Under what conditions will a sick child need to be taken home? Are you able to isolate contagious children (chicken pox, measles, etc.)?
NAP AND REST TIME: Where will children rest? What and how long is rest time? What alternate activities will be available for short nappers?
DISCIPLINE: How will problematic behavior be handled? What rules will you have? It is important to discuss discipline with parents.
APPROPRIATE DRESS: What spare clothes will be needed? Ask parents to dress children appropriately for weather and play.
I respect and appreciate the trust you have placed in me in caring for your child. I believe that parents are the most important people in a child's world, and I will make every effort to support you as a family.
I will try to offer the very best care that I can for your child. You can help me by keeping me informed about health concerns, favorite foods, fears, or special interests. I will try to share information about your
child's growth and activities during the time spent in my program.
My philosophy about children and child care is reflected in the following policies.
PLAY ACTIVITIES: Children learn a great deal from our daily play activities. Playing with play dough, finger painting, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, singing, reading books, planting flowers in the garden, pretending to be fire fighters, or making snow angels are typical activities that we might do. I strongly believe that children learn by doing and try to provide activities that are appropriate for children of different ages and interests. As these activities can be a bit messy, I encourage you to dress your children in comfortable, washable play clothes every day.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES: I try to take the children outside every day for fresh air and exercise. Often we will bundle up and go outside on cold days for at least a few minutes. On warm, sunny days we may spend a lot of time outdoors. If you have special requests regarding outdoor play (such as using sunscreen, insect repellant, etc.) please let me know.
MEALS/SNACKS: I participate in the Adult and Child Care Food Program. This means that I plan nutritionally balanced, wholesome foods, meals, and snacks. Children are encouraged (but never forced) to eat a variety of foods. On occasion, the children may help me prepare special snacks or
NAPS/REST TIME: Children in my care usually take regular naps. Infants nap as needed, and older children generally sleep in the afternoons after lunch. Even if children do not go to sleep, I still insist that they lay down for a rest time and look at books quietly.
GUIDANCE AND DISCIPLINE: I try to create an environment for children that is supportive and respectful of their needs. I use different methods of discipline for different situations. When children are arguing or out of control, I will insist on a "time out" or cooling off period. When children are doing something that is not appropriate, I will redirect them to a more suitable activity. At times, I also may choose to ignore misbehavior. I will not physically punish your child by spanking, slapping, or hitting. My goal is to help each child develop a strong sense of self-discipline and self-esteem.
ILLNESS: Children cannot attend if they have a temperature of more than 101 degrees Farenheit or if they have a communicable disease, are vomiting, or have diarrhea. Parents will be notified if children become ill while in my care. Children must be picked up as soon as possible. Medications will be given only with the parent's or doctor's direct written consent. Please bring all medications in their original bottle, with written instructions on the amount to be given and the time to be administered.
EMERGENCIES: In the event of a medical emergency, fire, or natural disaster, I will take immediate steps to ensure your child's safety and will contact you as quickly as possible. Please make sure that you keep me informed regarding your whereabouts.
As a professional family child care provider, I am committed to providing high quality care in a home environment. I believe that family child care offers children the opportunity to learn and grow with siblings and children of different ages in a supportive, family-like atmosphere.
I value the opportunity to work closely with each child for several years. I sincerely believe that this practice provides continuity and stability for each child and allows me to better nurture and support each child as they grow and develop.
I take pride in my profession. My career in family child care has provided me with meaningful work and an income to support my family. Parents sometimes forget that my services are much like any other business because I work in my home. If you fail to pick up your child on time, I have less time to spend with my own family. If you fail to pay your fees, I may find it impossible to pay my own bills on time. If your family experiences an emergency or unforeseen difficulty, I am very willing to work with you. However, I do ask that you be respectful of my needs so that I can continue to offer your child quality care.
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