As a daycare operator, you are responsible for many people’s most precious belongings: their children. As such, extra care is needed with communication and clarification of policies and procedures. Document important information and agreements to terms with the use of child care forms. Use of these forms frees your attention and time from handling administrative headaches so you can focus on the success of your daycare center and the well being of the children in your care.
General Tips for Child Care Forms
Customize forms to fit your daycare center. Be sure to remove any inapplicable parts of borrowed forms, and be sure to insert your business name and details into any templates.
Stay up-to-date with your state’s requirements. Each state mandates different record-keeping requirements and required notices to post.
Keep your forms organized and easy-to-find. Each child should have a folder of documents. Archive folders of children who no longer attend your daycare center.
Periodically update your forms. Not only update the language and content of your forms, if appropriate, but update children’s information, as applicable.
A contract between the parents and you as a provider of services is essential. Not only do the agreements made in the contract help minimize misunderstandings, but the terms are enforceable in court in case of disagreement. Follow state licensing laws that require certain language. Be sure to include the following details at minimum:
Names of all parties (including children) involved
The hours services will be provided
Payment amount, forms of payment, late fees, and due dates
How the contract can be terminated
Signatures of all adults
Though not enforceable in court, written policies minimize disputes. They should clarify your daycare center’s admission requirements and application process, disciplinary methods, emergency protocols, transportation issues, drop-off and pick-up procedures, meals, medical treatment, how you’ll handle children’s illnesses, and more. Many samples exist to get you started.
Authorizations for special circumstances are necessary to protect you from potential claims as well as to allow you to act on behalf of the parents in their absence. Examples of childcare authorizations include:
Approved caregivers / guardians
Designation of persons authorized to pick up the child
Consent for medical treatment
Before you begin providing care to a child, you should gather detailed information about her, the parents’ preferences, and information relevant to help you give her the best care. Examples of forms to gather such information include:
Be sure the information in these forms remains current. Ask parents to periodically review and update as appropriate.
Sign In/Out Sheets
Keeping attendance of the children at your daycare is critical. Most states require these records be maintained on-site for a certain period of time. You have flexibility in how you track attendance. You can have a separate record for each child, track all children by the day, require the person dropping off or picking up the child provide a signature, etc.
Emergency Drill Records
Many states require your daycare center practice periodic emergency fire and alarm drills. Keep track of these emergency drills on dedicated forms to help meet record-keeping requirements and to help you schedule future drills.
Consistently use standard forms to track parents’ payments and to notify them when there is a problem with payment. For example, develop payment reminder letters to send when payment is outstanding.
The categories of forms discussed above represent just a portion of what is possible. Using forms in your daycare business may add paperwork, but it takes away some headaches and prevents many problems from developing.
Knowing exactly when a child is in your care is very important to stay organized. It’s the foundation for your billing and has a record of when a child left your responsibility. You can also record with whom the child leaves, protecting you from liability. As the provider, you can choose whether you require parents to give a signature for pickup or not.
In case of an emergency, you will want to have some medical forms handy. These forms can make sure you are allowed to administer care if there is an emergency or know if there are any previous conditions the child has.
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