Do you wonder how is the best way to set up your daycare space? It’s hard to find the best way to work in the space you have sometimes, but looking for inspiration in what others are already doing can help you keep from reinventing the wheel. What works for one provider may not work for another, but you can always learn from watching others
Tag Archive for childcare
What do you think childcare providers can’t live without? When I asked the question to a bunch of providers, I got a lot of interesting answers. Some providers said things like kids, art supplies, toys, books, songs, baby gates, reading glasses, cell phone, computer, sharpie markers, printer, copier, baby wipes, Lysol wipes, magic erasers, cheerios, bleach and things like that. Those are for sure things childcare providers can’t live without. I mean, what would we be doing if we didn’t have kids.
I LOVE throwing Easter parties for my kids. I LOVE stuffing eggs, but I hate the idea of stuffing all of them full of candy. I think a little candy is fine, but baskets full is just overkill and not a good message to send our children. I love finding alternative things for stuffing Easter eggs for my kids.
Everyone has a really bad, no good day sometimes. Have you ever read the book about Alexander’s? I love it. It helps us to see that bad days aren’t wrong and the people having them aren’t bad. Sometimes people just feel bad for some reason. Sometimes we are just tired or even burned out. Click here to see how to avoid burnout.
Contracts and policies are so important for your childcare business. If you don’t treat your business like a business, it will not run as well as it should and you will probably end up burning out. If you are having trouble establishing your paperwork for your business, read on and find out how to develop it in a systematic and simple way.
Contracts deal with time and money, policies are rules about other things. Contracts must be signed if you change any part of them, policies can be changed as you wish. The contract is a legal binding document, the policies just help spell out expectations. Tom Copeland has some great advice on writing a contract, click here to check it out.
Let’s start with contracts and handle policies next.
What does your childcare contract need to cover?
Your business rules can be whatever you want them to be with the exception of any type of discrimination. Think about what is most important to you and set your business up with those rules. Click here to see what many seasoned childcare providers think are the most important rules.
Your contract should state your name, the parent’s names and the children’s names childcare is being provided for.
Your contract should state the days and hours you are open and which of those hours care is available for this family. Some providers are open something like 12 hours a day, but only watch each child for a certain number of hours such as 9.
Your contract should state any holidays you will be taking and whether they are paid or not. It should also include vacation days for you and whether those are paid or not. It’s a good idea to get paid for some of your days off if not all of them. Most parents have paid holidays, why shouldn’t you?
The contract should state what parents owe you. Weekly fees, field trip fees, art fees, transportation fees or whatever fees you are going to charge need to be outlined in the contract. It should also state when they are to pay you. I allow parents to choose their paydays for me but they have to stick to those days. There is no saying, I want to pay once a month and then coming in and saying, I’m going to pay for this week. We have to sign a new contract and AGREE that we are changing payment dates.
Your contract SHOULD state that parents have to pay a week in advance for care. You should stick to this rule, it will save you so much trouble in the future.
Your contract should state what parents are responsible to provide and what you provide. My contract says parents are responsible for diapers, wipes and a change of clothes.
Your contract should introduce your substitute and for what situations that person would be left in charge of the kids. No one should come to pick up and find someone they don’t know watching their children.
The contract should state how the care provided will end. My contract states that two weeks’ notice is required to terminate it. Parents are responsible for paying for two weeks if they decide not to finish care. My contract also states that the first two weeks are a trial period for parents, provider and child. That way if I decide a family is not a good fit for my business, the contract will end.
Your contract should state that you are a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse and sex trafficking behaviors. This is something that should be handled up front and having it in your contract is a great way to get it out there.
Discrimination-make sure you state you do not discriminate for any reason and make sure you don’t. It’s not okay to choose clients by race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability. This is illegal. My contract states, children will not be discriminated against for any reason.
It’s a good idea to disclose something that may be of concern to parents. My DHS worker suggested I disclose our pets and our religious beliefs. I think this is a very wise idea. We always have cats, so the interview is a good time to talk about that in case someone has a child that is allergic to cats. I have watched children of pagan parents, atheist parents, and agnostic parents. I am a Jesus loving Christian but I disclose that in my contract so no one is taken by surprise. You would be amazed at how well we worked it out. I told them up front we pray, the kids learn about God and Jesus, etc. They were fine with it and dealt with it in their own way at home.
Being open and honest is the best policy in any situation. If your husband is at home 24/7 and helps with the daycare, parents have a right to know that. If he works odd hours and sleeps during the day, they should know that too. If you have grown kids that visit or live in the home, have a friend over to visit, or anything like that, it’s important to disclose it. Anything you think might be of importance to a parent, it’s best to let them know up front.
Signatures should be on the contract, both of the parents if possible and yours.
Please make sure you don’t include rules in your contracts and policies that you are not willing to enforce. What this does is show parents you are not serious about any of your rules. If you’re not willing to make people pay a late fee, take it out of the contract. The things in the contract should be very serious and always enforced.
Keep your contract as short as possible. Parents are much more likely to read a shorter contract and to pay attention and take notice of what is mentioned there. Policies should be as short as you can make them as well.
Contracts and policies have similar purposes, but some differences. The remaining items you want to communicate to parents will be in your policies.
Does your state have any rules about what has to be included in your policy book? In Oklahoma, we do. Click here to see the requirements and a sample of my policy book.
Some of the things childcare policies should include are:
Discipline and guidance procedures.
Procedures for the day. Let parents know anything about how you run the business that would be of importance to them. You can’t expect them to always have their child their by 9 am if you don’t let them know that is your rule.
Your outdoor play policy. I take the kids outside to play, weather permitting, any time it’s between 40 and 90 degrees, that is in my policy book. Also, kids get dirty here. We garden, we play hard, it’s a dirty job to be a kid. So, I let people know that in advance.
Your daily schedule or activities kids will participate in regularly.
Your inclement weather policies. How do you deal with dangerous weather? Do you close on snow days? Parents need to know what to expect.
Your training and education.
Emergency contact numbers.
What are the reasons you would chose to terminate care? Those should be explained in your policies.
Emergency and disaster plans should be in your policies as well. Parents should be informed on what procedures you will take in caring for their child should a disaster or emergency occur. Where might you relocate to? Where will you shelter? What supplies do you have in place for children’s safety?
I have a form at the end of my policies for parents to sign they have read and understand the policies. I feel that covers me from any extra problems later with someone saying, I didn’t know anything about that.
What do you do if someone does not want to follow your contract and policies? This is a big indicator that your business relationship with this person is not going to work out. You need to tell them it’s not a good fit and you cannot provide care for them. If they cannot agree to your rules, they will not respect your business and the way you run it. It will not turn out well, I promise.
Making sure your business is being run like one will help you gain respect and appreciation from your parents. Having contracts and policies in place will show families you are serious and want to give high quality care to their kids. If you act professionally and show your parents respect, they are much more likely to respect you. If you are giving and receiving respect from your parents, you are much less likely to burn out and hate this job. You will enjoy your work and be successful. That’s what I’d really like to see for everyone.
Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer them if I can. I’d love to help you make sure your business is all it can be. Let your contract and policies work for your business and you!
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What’s the difference between a good provider and a great one? Great childcare is a blessing to families and it’s rare. How can you grow your business and cut down on stress in your life? What are you doing to make sure your business is successful in the future? Would you love to know the magic formula for keeping daycare families and having a thriving home daycare?
Word of mouth is by far the most important part of growing a successful childcare business. What are people saying about the care you provide? Have you gone the extra mile to let parents know you love their kids? Do they know you care about them?
People often times ask me, what is your secret? Why do you never have openings? Why does everyone love you so much? What do you do differently? The honest truth is I don’t know what I do differently, I just know what I do. I use my instincts to be the best provider I can be. I care for my families, not just the kids. To me, the whole family needs me.
I try every day to provide great childcare. Some days I do and some days I suck. That’s no reason to stop trying. Parents need support and advice, older siblings need to know their little brother or sister is safe, and everyone needs to know you have their best interest at heart.
I hear providers all the time talking about how the kids aren’t the problem, the parents are. To some extent it’s true, but if you really care about your parents, they won’t be disrespectful to you. Parents know when their kids are getting great childcare and when they are not. You can really help yourself have easier days and help your reputation by being kind to your parents. I promise, it’s good business sense.
Parents are not out to get you; they only want the best for their kids. Be open and let them know that’s what you want too, and they will be on your side. Every day will be easier. Make sure you are up front with them. People can sense when you aren’t being genuine. No one likes being lied to. I have been a parent using childcare before and the most important thing to me was KNOWING my child was safe. My provider made sure I did and I never forgot that. Parents who are nervous or scared aren’t trying to be annoying, they need to be comforted by you as their provider.
Also, please remember, if someone leaves or doesn’t chose the care you provide, it may just not have been a good fit. Not everyone is meant for everyone else. Different people have different ideas and procedures and that’s good because different families have different needs. All people have good inside but it doesn’t always match someone else’s good.
Here’s another big secret. As hard as I try to provide great childcare, NOT EVERYONE LIKES ME or the care i provide. They just don’t. Everyone won’t be a good fit no matter how hard you try or how much you care. Check out what a group of parents had to say about good childcare and great childcare.
According to parents surveyed a good provider is:
Reliable and on time
Trustworthy and honest
Takes care of kids
Meets basic requirements
Has an illness policy
Does what they say they will
Knows about child development
Helps kids mature as appropriate
Joyful and happy
Structured and has rules for children and families
Has a clean home
According to parents surveyed, a great provider:
Above all is honest with parents
Teaches manners and how to handle problems in a positive way
Serves quality meals (not just junk food)
Loves what they do
Knows how important the job is
Keeps kids safe, doesn’t put them in harm’s way
Is interested and committed to the profession
Stays informed on issues and regulations
Values parents and children
Is involved with parents and invites parents to be involved in the program
Communicates, gives honest feedback, and empowers parents
Honors parental wishes and respects their decisions
Give opinions and advice when needed
Goes the extra mile
Loves kids like their own
Takes time to send pictures of kids at daycare
Talks to parents about their child’s day
Feels like leaving kids with family or friend
Puts kids before money (meaning, the kid’s needs are more important than the paycheck)
Doesn’t lie to please parents
Is constantly improving and learning
Develops a positive environment
Has a professional handbook
Knows DHS rules well and follows them
Nurtures children emotionally, nutritionally, socially, and academically
Only practices developmentally appropriate practice
Is strict with parents for the good of all children in care
Is an advocate for children both of the parent and the other kids in care
Sets consistent boundaries
Gives time to play
Communicates with parents to empower them
Is warm and welcoming in the mornings
Cares about cleanliness
Treats the job like it’s more than just a paycheck
It’s their calling to provide childcare
Has an even temperament
Is available to parents
One thing I would add that no one mentioned is a great provider can balance the parent’s needs with their own so they can support the whole family, not only the child in care. It takes a village.
Parents polled shared the following bad experiences that were deal breakers for childcare:
Kids weren’t safe
There was no outside play
There was no art
The TV was constantly on or kids watched TV all day
Provider played on phone all day
Environment was unclean
Environment was disorganized
Provider lied or was dishonest
Environment felt institutional
Children seemed unhappy
Parent didn’t think their children would fit in
Teachers seemed unhappy
Children were picked up with dried snot on their face, that no one had cleaned all day
Environment had odor of poopy diapers
Negative feedback was given daily
Provider seemed vague
No call, no show
Parents interviewed shared these reasons why they scheduled and interview and either didn’t hold it or chose not to use the provider after they showed up:
No sick policy was in effect, sick kids in one room, well in another
Provider insulting kids during interview
Parent found out personal info that made them uneasy
Outside of home needed general maintenance and upkeep, looked junky
Environment was not clean
Security seemed lacking
Provider seemed superficial or dishonest
Ladies (and gentlemen), the most popular complaint I hear and heard from parents is caregivers not being honest. They want to know the truth about how their kid’s day was, they want to know the truth when they ask you questions. If you did something wrong, fess up to it. People respect you so much more when they know you are truthful. You don’t want parents lying to you, so don’t lie to them. Respect goes both ways.
Parents also commented that many people think daycare is bad because some are bad but it’s not true. There are good providers, but it’s not what people focus on. People prefer to see the negative, it’s just human nature.
A provider’s point of view (previous childcare provider):
“The pay versus work doesn’t seem as great as parents think when they are paying it. You begin work before they do and end after they do. Not to mention that many things come out of that pay like food, art supplies, utilities, etc. It really has to be a calling. It has to be more than just a paycheck.”
That my friends, is truth! If you are struggling to fill spots or have a hard time figuring out what parents want, look over these lists occasionally and see if there is something you can change to make your business more successful. If you are going to be a childcare provider, it is the most important job in the world, be a great provider! If you don’t want to be a great provider, do something else. It’s not worth it.
Great providers are a gem, click here to see how to find a hidden jewel in a provider.
If you are worried that your home is not up to par, try going outside for a few minutes in the evening and then stepping in the door and taking a big whiff. If you smell foul odors, your parents do too. If you don’t know if your house looks clean enough, step out on the porch and look around what parents see as they arrive. Is there something you can put fresh paint on or a few nails that need to be hammered in? Is there anything attractive and nice to look at? As you come in the door is there filth and trash all over the greeting area? If you need to be a clutter bug, do it in the back room or your bedroom. Let your entry area be your best foot forward. It will make a world of difference, I promise.
I don’t have anything nice, and my house is not perfect, but I have had many people step in and say, it looks so clean. Make sure that’s what people see upon entry. If you don’t know, ask a friend to come over and look. They can tell you what people will notice that you don’t because you see it every day. A few minutes of tidying before you open will make a big difference. If you don’t want to get out the vacuum every night, get a cracker beater like they have in the church nursery and do a quick buzz by the front door each evening after care. Take pride in what you’re doing, you’re a WORLD CHANGER and anyone can be a great provider if they really care about what they’re doing.
What do you think makes a great provider?
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When you open a new family childcare business in your home, it’s hard to know what will work and what won’t. If you start your business and add rules, it’s much harder than beginning the business with your rules in place. You can have them already in your contract or policies depending on where they belong and you will save yourself a whole lot of headaches.
Every year we face the age old question in childcare, what do I get my daycare kids for Christmas? Some providers give their families gifts, some just the kids, and some don’t choose to do that. It’s all relative to your budget, beliefs, and feelings about what is best for the kids. In today’s society, kids are very overindulged in most cases. Most kids don’t NEED anything else. Hopefully this post can help you solve the dilemma and you can refer back to it year after year.
I love to give my kids something unique that won’t get lost or broken along with all the other toys they get. I usually never give them any kind of toys. I also love for my gifts to be educational. That’s another way to make gifts more valuable for your children.
Do you have to give gifts to your daycare kids for Christmas? No, you absolutely don’t. It’s okay if you don’t think that’s the right thing to do. When polling other providers, many of them don’t. It’s a personal decision based on what you believe.
Set Your Budget.
First, you need to decide how much you want to spend on each child. I usually set my budget at about $20 per person. If you have 7 or 12 daycare kids, when you multiply that by 20, that’s quite a bit of money. Daycare is not a lucrative career, so we need to be careful with our spending. Twenty dollars is not a lot of money, and it can be tough to find really special gifts for that price.
Make it Personal.
I like for my gifts to be personalized. When I do that, I feel like it makes it that much more special. I love things that are monogrammed or personalized in some way. Check out Etsy for some great personalized gifts. I also love that Etsy products are homemade by someone and my purchase is helping them do life for their family.
Make it Unique.
Don’t just get the latest toy. Their parents, friends, grandparents and so many other people are buying them fun toys to play with. Most kids have so many toys, they can’t even play with all of them. Try to think of something out of the box. Click on the pictures to go to the products.
Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.
Some of the things I’ve bought for my daycare kids over the years include:
- Children’s Bible-This is a great one if you run a faith based program.
- Monogrammed blankets
- Monogrammed pillows
- Monogrammed duffel bags
- Monogrammed back packs
- Piggy banks and rolls of pennies to feed in them
- Monogrammed aprons
- Personalized puzzles (Melissa and Doug will add names on puzzles)
- Garden tools and seeds (we garden at daycare, so it’s cool to think they could take that home with them too) Click on the picture to view a set.
- Board Games (education and encourages screen free family time)
I asked a bunch of my friends what they give their daycare kids and I got a lot of really cool and unique ideas. I love polling providers; they are a great group of folks. Here is a list of what they said:
- Books was the most popular answer and I absolutely LOVE that. It makes me happy to think of all those kids getting books! Click here to see why reading to kids is one of the most important things you can do.
- Homemade PJ Pants (I wish I could sew)
- Homemade Hats and Gloves (I wish I could knit)
- Knitted Dolls (so cool)
- Stockings Full of Toys
- Mugs with Hot Chocolate
- Christmas Outfit
- Homemade Ornaments
- Homemade Aprons
- Monogrammed Stuffed Animals
- Homemade Cookies
- Fischer Price Toys
- Coloring Book with Crayons, you can even make your own personalized coloring books. Click here to see how.
- Gift Cards
- Hair Barrettes and Keychains
- Match Box Cars
- Personalized Books
- Hats, Scarves and Gloves
- Homemade Playdough
- PJ’s and a book
I like to give to my families as well and usually do some sort of homemade cookies, pies, or breads. I always make the families a personalized cookbook of the children cooking as gifts to go with whatever food I make. Click here to see how we make our cookbooks.
What great ideas do you have for great gifts for your daycare kids or families?
For more great Christmas ideas, click on the links to check out my friend’s posts below.
It’s a bit overwhelming to receive this letter about a ton of new requirements for childcare licensing in Oklahoma. and not know what a lot of these things mean. Oklahoma childcare has been changing for a while and will continue to do so in the future. First, take a step back and realize you have a free visit to learn about them. Second, we can break it down in small bites and it will be just fine.
When looking for in-home childcare or any other childcare, make sure you know what you are getting. Lots of situations could be avoided with good communication before you enter into a business relationship with someone.