This Business ToolKit has been developed to provide family child care providers with resource links, tips and templates to support them as small business owners. The included language samples and forms meet (or exceed) Maine’s current Family Child Care Licensing Rule requirements.
These materials are free for all providers to view, copy and adjust to meet their individual program needs. Ignore the “Request Access” button and just copy or download the template/samples as is. You will then be able to adapt as you need. Here’s a way to copy directly into the Google Drive connected to a gmail account.
With the sharing of these resources, FCCAM is not rendering legal or tax advice. All material here is being shared to support your business practices and work with children. If you require more specific assistance, please consult a legal or tax preparation professional to represent you.
What we refer to as a “Care Agreement” is composed of material from the following 3 areas: Contract / Policy Handbook / Emergency Preparedness Plan
Before you put the work into development consider how or where you will be composing and hosting your Care Agreement. You are allowed to handle all this online/icloud, website or in hard copy. You might decide to use a mix of these avenues.
It is good practice to include additional information at the beginning of your Care Agreement, that covers such topics as: Confidentiality, Invalid Provisions, Modifications and Translation for English Language Learners.
Translation for English Language Learners is required in the current Licensing Rule to support providers meet the needs of the diversity within our communities. The question is where is it best to place within your care agreement? In your contractual packet, or your handbook? Each provider’s care agreement has a different flow, so only you can decide where this best fits.
Please note that the current FCC Licensing Rule uses “Child’s Parent/Legal Guardian” to replace parent/ mother/ father/family. Today’s families take many shapes and this language covers all those with the legal responsibility of a child.
In operating a small business, you have the right to run your business as you wish, as long as complying with the current Licensing Rule for FCC.
A “Contract” is understood to cover what services money is being paid to cover and is legally enforceable in court. While you can make changes at any time to your contract, any change must be in writing and signed by both parties.
Financial Agreement / Current FCC Licensing Rule requires 2 copies with complete signatures on both. 1 for parent/legal guardian to have and 1 for provider’s records. Licensing requires a formal financial agreement for every client family.
Your financial agreement is the only item that is legally enforceable in court.
While the following items are not about money for your services they require signatures and cover areas of potential liability for a family child care provider. They should be part of each child’s record file. We have combined these with the Financial Agreement to comprise a: “Contractual Packet“.
1)Registration Form which is the required Child’s record.
2) Permission to Use a Child’s Likeness – Most think this is just about social media, but it includes any usage of a child’s likeness anywhere by you. That includes within your space for indicating cubbies, or a program’s friends bulletin board. Remember to include a Child’s Parent/Legal Guardian’s right to deny usage.
3) Release Authorization for Non-Guardian Pick-up – this can include the required emergency evacuation reunification
4) Authorization to Dispense Medication (prescription and non-prescription)
5) Emergency Medical Care release – include names and telephone numbers for child’s family physician and dentist. Many provider’s include this on the Registration form.
6) Health Record/ Immunizations – The State of Maine requires a copy of a child’s official immunization record be kept on site. Or a note from a doctor stating that medical contradictions exist. Include any allergies and other health conditions with health plan on the health record.
7) Injury reports, including serious injury or death reports
10) Field trips permission – this includes whenever children leave the premises, even walking
11) Child’s Parent/Legal Guardian Signature form – indicates that all legal guardians of the child have been informed of the Licensing Rule requirements and how your program has met them.
Any record pertinent to a child must be maintained for 3 years after their discharge from care. (This includes if you close your program.)
Maine DHHS OCFS Sample Child Care Contract (PDF). This state example combines some items we include as part of a Policy Handbook.
Program’s Handbook …
As with your contract, you can make changes at any time. For any change in your policies client/family notification does not need to be through written notice or require signatures. However, for any major change it’s best practice to get a signature indicating a Child’s Parent/Legal Guardian’s awareness of the change.
The FCC Licensing Rule requires that the provider has shared specific information about the operation of the program and state requirements for a licensed child care program with the child’s parent/legal guardian at the time of admission. The easiest way to do this is through your Policy Handbook, which through definition contains the policies and procedures about how your program will operate (sick policy, meal policy, activities, behavior guidance, etc.). The clearer your policies and procedures are the less room for conflict and the more professional image your small business presents.
The following list might seem long, but many of these items can be grouped together or handled with only a few clear sentences.
- Unlimited Access (while child in attendance)
- Communication practices
- Child guidance practices
- Child rights
- Expulsion and suspension practices
- Release of children to non-custodial caregivers
- Mandated reporting
- Management childhood illnesses
- Serious injury and child death reporting
- Safe sleep
- Field trips and Transportation
- High Risk activities
- Ages program serves and licensed capacity
- Hours of operation and daily schedule
- Program focus/philosophy
- Services program offers
- Vacation/closure dates and policy
- resources for developmental screenings
- Interpretation for English Language Learners
- Staff qualifications and trainings (if applicable)
- Supervision of Staff/Interns (if applicable)
- Swimming activities (if applicable)
- Outside activity policy
While the required Licensing Rule policies cover health and safety you might wish to cover additional practices, such as conflict resolution, bug repellent, clothing needs, in your handbook. Our everything you can think of folder has sample language for other areas providers have recommended including.
Not sure how to form your Policy Handbook? Maine DHHS OCFS Sample Parent Handbook Outline (PDF) provides an example of a possible flow.
Emergency Preparedness Plan (Emergency/Disaster Response Plan)
The Licensing Rule requires your Emergency Preparedness Plan to include:
- Evacuation, including a designated relocation site and evacuation route
- Lockdown of the residence and/or shelter-in-place
- Procedures for notifying Parents/Legal Guardians
- Procedures to address the needs of individual Children including Children with special needs
- Coordination with local emergency management officials
- Guidelines for the continuation of Child care in the period following the emergency or disaster
Here’s our sample for an Emergency Preparedness Plan and Response Handbook for natural disasters and human-caused events, including but not limited to, fire drills. Our sample includes handbook, parent letters, and reunification form.
For Providers with Staff you will find Staff specific resources in its own section: Staff Contract/Handbook.
Required Policy and Records Checklists: (note we cannot guarantee that it is all inclusive.) We continue to encourage providers to read the current Licensing Rule.
- General Policies and Records
- Child Abuse/Neglect Policy
- Child’s Record
- Personnel Records
- EPPlan – Emergency Preparedness Plan
You can modify any of these resources for your own use. If sharing with others, please be sure to credit FCCAM and link to the website page directly when possible. Please do not distribute any resources found here for profit.
If there are additional areas you would appreciate having templates/sample language for please contact us at: email@example.com.
Licensing Supervisors have shared with FCCAM some of the most common rule violations Licensing Specialists are encountering on inspections (as of 10/2021):
- The program/provider is not enrolled in QRIS
- The daily schedule is not posted
- Missing current and complete immunization records for all children *includes school-age
- Missing required policies and staff handbook *reminder that sole providers need to state that and then be sure that they have covered all the required staff procedures in their handbook.
- Documentation of pre-service/orientation training *MRTQ On-Demand Health and Safety covers a most of this.
- Staff (individual files) with documentation of credentials, including pre-service/orientation training required
- Signing off by Staff that they have read the licensing rules and the policies of the program
- All staff members are not registered on the MRTQ Registry
- Missing current immunization records for staff members – Tetanus/Diphtheria within the last 10 years and MMR if born after 1956