Selecting a family childcare provider for your child, can be a very intimidating process. Of course, you want the best fit for your child and meeting the provider, examining the environment and looking at the curriculum are essential. There is another important aspect that should be taken into consideration. You should expect to be given a written comprehensive policy and procedure document.

This policy and procedure document should contain a contract between you and the provider. It should state many of the specific terms you and the provider agree to. It should also contain the why, when and how the terms of agreement are carried out. This policy and procedure manual should be signed and dated by both you and the provider.

What should you expect to find in the policy and procedure document? Many times a parent and provider's expectations may differ.

For example: You may expect the provider to supply your child's diapers and you may expect the provider to supply them.

To make sure you are both on the same page it essential that you have a contract and written policies and procedures. The following are items you should expect to find:

• Provider’s days and hours of operation

• Holiday and any other closures including the policy on whether or not you pay for childcare

• Drop off procedure including provider’s sign-in policy

• Pick up procedure including sign-out procedures, specific parking area, which door to use for pick-up

• Procedure for dropping into childcare unannounced

• Procedure for communication including when, about what and how often you will be provided communication regarding your child. How is communication given – verbally or written?

For example: is a daily report sent home with your child letting you know what your child ate, bowel movements, nap, and any other information the provider will supply.

• Hours of operation

• Policy for payments including rates, late fees for picking child up late, when are those fees are charged and the amount. When payment is due.

• Policies on which forms are require before child starts program –

For example: immunization form from child’s doctor

• Policies on what you are expected to supply,

For example: diapers, formula. List all clothing you are required to supply for outdoor play.

For example: bathing suits, towels, mittens, hats, snow pants, snow boots, etc.

• What outdoor equipment is used and the safety rules for using equipment.

• Include policies on what happens if provider gets sick

• Policy on what happens when your child is sick

For example: how are you notified, how is provider notified, is payment for day required, when doctors note is required for child to come back.

• How are emergencies handled?

• Policies regarding transportation and field trips. Policy should clearly state what car seats will be used and who supplies them and the rules on seat belts. Provider should Identify what vehicle will be used to transport children. Required permission forms before your child will be transported.

• Discipline policy including type of discipline, notification to you

For example: No physical discipline will ever be administered to child. Policies regarding how provider handles biting, aggressive behavior, and bad language should be included.

• Policy and procedure for termination. Include your right and the provider’s right to end the childcare arrangement for any reason with a determined time of notification.

For example two-week notice. A statement stating if you are expected to pay during the termination period whether or not the child attends.

• Included is the policy regarding if you fall behind in payments.

For example: provider has right to terminate without notice when you are behind in payments

• The policy for potty training including what is expected from provider and from you.

For example: parents supply provider with a clean change of clothing ewhile child is potty training.

• Policy regarding what your child can bring to care with them.

For xample: Provider has a non-violent environment, and no toy guns or toy weapons are allowed. Also, how or if toys from home will be shared with the other children.

• Policy outlining how provider handles medical emergencies

• Sick child policy including, under what circumstances must child be kept at home.

For example: vomiting or fever. When child can return, example: Child may return after fever free for 24 hours.

• Policies regarding emergency closures -

For example: bad weather

• Names of all persons who will be assistants or substitutes caring for your child

• Policy regarding pets on the premises

• Nap time policies and procedures –

For example: Infants will be placed on their back unless you have a physician’s written statement authorizing another sleep position for your infant on file.

• Policy explaining the provider is a mandated reporter regarding suspected abuse or neglect. Along with the procedure if they need make a report to Department of Family and Children’s Services.

• No smoking policy

• The policy and procedures around legal issues such as child custody.

For example: Provider must have on file a copy of restraining orders, and child custody documents if there are any issues regarding who can see the children.

All policies and procedures must be kept current. Any changes should be in writing and signed by both you and provider. A Policies and Procedures document spells out everything you and the provider need to understand and agree to. This will assure that you do not have disagreements in the future regarding the operation of the program. These policies and procedures are separate from the contract. Policies and procedures help to clarify the expectations you and the provider have regarding your child’s care.

If the provider does not have a written policies and procedure document, use these outlined items to prepare a written document to discuss with the provider. Thoroughly go over each item so there are no misunderstandings, both sign and date document.