This Business ToolKit has been developed to provide family child care providers with a go to place for resource links, tips and templates to support the business end of strong, professional, sustainable family child care programs. We will continue to both add to and update the resources shared here to provide the most timely materials possible. You can modify and print for your own use. Please do not distribute any resources found here for profit.
For those just getting started or thinking about entering this rewarding field start by checking out our posts on Starting a Family Child Care (Part 1: licensing, Part 2: business plan, and Part 3: equipment).
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.
As a licensee running a family child care, you will need to have a contract and handbook. The current FCC Licensing Rule requires some specific materials to be included in both your contract and handbook. It also requires that the legal guardian signs off that they have been provided with these materials. Licensing does not provide you with set language, but rather you have the flexibility to develop language that reflects the services you are offering children and families. This can be overwhelming, but you do not have to start from scratch. There are many national resources available and Maine licensees with many years of experience willing to share what they have developed.
To make this simpler you can think about needing materials for 3 areas:
Contract – a legal document that spells out the hours and days you will provide care in exchange for money paid by the responsible client.
Policy Handbook – contains all the rules for how your program will operate (sick policy, meal policy, activities, behavior guidance, etc.).
Emergency Preparedness Planning – for natural disasters and human-caused events, including but not limited to, fire drills. Includes handbook, parent letters, reunification form…..
It is recommend that your contract and policies handbook be two separate documents. Any change to a written contract must be in writing and signed by both parties. For any change in your policies you also notify clients, but it does not need to be written notice or require signatures.
Let’s start with your Contract…
You will want your contract to be as clear as possible. You have the right to run your business as you wish, as long as complying with the current Licensing Rule for FCC. You can make changes at any time to your contract. Just be sure you inform clients of these changes and get they signature stating their awareness.
Remembering that a contract is legally enforceable in court and covers what services money is being paid to cover.
Financial Agreement – make 2 copies getting complete signatures on both (1 for guardian to have and 1 for your records); include end of service date. Licensing requires all records being kept on file for 2 years following last date of care.
While the following can instead be included within your handbook, as these cover areas of potential liability for a family child care provider, you might decide to maintain them as a part of your contract.
1) Permission to Use a Child’s Likeness – most think this is just about social media. 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. Also includes guardian’s right to deny usage.
3) Authorization to Dispense Medication (prescription and non-prescription)
4) Health Record/ Immunizations** – The State of Maine requires a copy of a child’s official immunization record be kept on site. Or a signed letter stating your religious or philosophical reasons. Or a note from a doctor stating that medical contradictions exist. As a private business you can also decide whether you wish to follow this or require immunizations to attend your program.
5) 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
You might also like to include a signature form for use of play equipment at your program. Check out our information and template for Use of High-Risk Equipment.
Moving on to your Handbook …
This includes everything you can think of to explain what your services will cover and your expectations of families. The clearer you are on this the smoother your business will run. As with your contract, you can make changes at any time, just get a signature indicating guardian awareness of the change.
Please note that we use “guardian” to replace parent/ mother/ father. Today’s families take many shapes and the use of guardian covers all those with the legal responsibility of a child.
Start with your Registration Form** which is required to include:
- Child’s name, birth date, street address and mailing address;
- Name, street address, mailing address and telephone number of the child’s legal guardians;
- Places of employment, telephone number, and street address of the child’s guardians’ employers;
- Method of contacting the guardians while the child is in care;
- Name, street address and telephone number of an emergency contact other than the guardians, for use in the event of an emergency, if the parents cannot be reached;
- Dates of enrollment and termination;
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of the child’s physician;
- Written authorization to obtain emergency medical care for the child
The 2017 FCC Licensing Rule requires that the licensee has shared the following information with the child’s guardian at the time of admission. The easiest way to do this is through your policy handbook.
- Child guidance practices
- Expulsion and suspension practices
- Management of child illness
- Release of children to non-custodial caregivers
- Mandated reporting
- Serious injury and child death reporting
Check out our everything you can think of folder for sample language for other areas it is recommended you consider including in your handbook
Emergency Preparedness Plan and Response Handbook for natural disasters and human-caused events, including but not limited to, fire drills.
TIP: Include the forms denoted by ** with your emergency notebook/travel bag . They are important to have on hand if you need to leave your program with children in care because of an emergency.
The Licensing Rule also requires that a variety of records be maintain on site. Any record pertinent to a child must be maintained for 2 years after their discharge from care. These records include the following:
- Immunization records
- Serious injuries and reportable incidents sustained by the child while in care, recorded on the same day of the injury and including the date and time of the notification of a parent, signed by the parent within 48 hours of the incident; Developmental Assessments
- Complete record if suspected child abuse or neglect is reported to the Department’s child protective intake
- Daily attendance list that includes all children served, including the arrival and departure time for each child
- Record of fire drills, available for inspection by the Maine Department of Public Safety, Office of the State Fire Marshal and local fire inspectors.
For those that want even more information on wider topics that pertain to sustainable business practice, we have gathered additional resources. These can be found in the drop-down menu of the Business Tool Kit.
If there are additional areas you would appreciate having templates/sample language for please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.