First impressions matter, and a child care registration form is a key part of each new family’s introduction to your center. It’s an opportunity both for you to get to know the child being registered, and convey your center’s personality, philosophy and professionalism to parents and families.
Optimized registration forms not only help you communicate to parents and gather child information more effectively, they can become a foundational tool for staff at your center. Today, we’ll be looking at how you can make the most of your child care registration forms and what you need to include on each form. We’ll then cover five best practices identified by our child care experts for managing child care registration.
At the end of the post, take a look at our free downloadable child care registration form template. You can download, print it out and use it at your center to help make the child care registration process as easy as possible.
What is a Child Care Registration Form?
A child care registration form is the form parents must fill out to enroll a child for care at your child care center. It allows you to collect the basic data about each child that will inform their day-to-day care, such as who is authorized for drop-off and pick-up, health information and parent schedule.
The registration form also lets parents familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of your center before they sign up their child. That way, you can make sure you have their full understanding and consent for the center’s rules, practices, schedule and fees, and address any parent concerns about these ahead of time.
What Belongs on a Child Care Registration Form?
Although each center may have unique needs in a registration form, there are a few basic things that should be covered no matter what. Here’s what every child care center should include on a registration form, and why it’s important.
- Child Personal Information
- Name (and preferred name)
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Required hours and days of attendance
You’ll need this to help you identify the child, schedule their attendance at your center and put them in the right class. You may also wish to include questions about the child’s hobbies and interests, or their favorite toys and games.
- Child Medical Information
- Medical conditions or health concerns
- Medications or ongoing treatments
- Special needs or necessary accommodations
- Name and phone number of primary care physician
- Name of insurance provider and insurance identification numbers
Child care programs must have these details on file for each child in case of an emergency and to meet any daily medical needs. If a child needs to take medications while at your center, the parents should provide directions in writing to the child care provider who will administer the medications.
- Parent Information
For each parent and/or guardian:
- Home address (if different from child)
- Phone number (home/work/cell)
- Email address
- Preferred method of contact
- Relationship to child
- Which parent/guardian to contact first
- Which parent/guardian the child primarily lives with
- Child’s legal guardian(s)
Parent information helps you know whom you can contact about the child on a day-to-day basis and how to best get in touch with them. It also gives you insight into the child’s living situation.
- Authorized Pick-up Information & Emergency Contacts
For each authorized pick-up or emergency contact:
- Phone number
- Relationship to child
- Relationship to parent/guardian
- Identifying information
When parents aren’t available for a daily pick-up, or in case of an unplanned emergency, child care providers can reach out to authorized emergency contacts. Storing this information in a secure and accessible location can help keep things running smoothly in an unexpected situation while ensuring child safety and security at your center.
- Child Care Policies
- Photo Release
- Liability Waiver
Here’s where you’ll outline any of your center’s policies that parents need to know, such as how cancellations and refunds are handled. You should also obtain their consent to the standard procedures of your child care center, such as publishing photographs of their child and obtaining emergency medical care for them, as well as a general waiver of your center’s liability as permitted by local law.
- Payment Details & Signature
Depending on the payment methods used by your center, you can leave spaces for credit card or direct deposit details, or simply request that parents attach a check. Make sure the fee schedule is outlined in detail so that parents know exactly what they’ll pay, and can sign their agreement.
Child Care Registration Form Best Practices
1. Collect Detailed Child Information
The more information you collect on each child, the more tools you have at your disposal to help your center provide the best possible care for them. Beyond the basic date of birth and other vital statistics, consider asking questions about the child’s personality, preferences and background.
For instance, it can be helpful to you to know about any fears or anxieties the child has, their experience with child care and new stressors in their life. This will give you insight into how you can prevent or manage any challenges the child might have adjusting to your center. You can also ask for the child’s likes and dislikes, and favorite things that help them get used to changes. That way, the transition to child care will be an easy one for everyone.
2. Know Your Recordkeeping Obligations
If your center is licensed by your state or jurisdiction, you’re likely required to meet recordkeeping standards. Most states expect you to gather, at minimum, the child’s personal information, parent contact information, emergency contacts and medical information.
You may be required to update this information regularly, and keep it on file for a certain period of time. Confidentiality standards often apply.
Some states offer registration form templates designed for the state’s requirements, so be sure to check with your licensing office for more information.
3. Ensure Child Care Registration Forms are Fully Completed
For busy parents, it’s easy to miss a line or two when filling out a detailed child care registration form. A careful check of each form as it’s submitted can save time and headaches later when that information is needed.
Using child care management software is also a great way to ensure the completion of each registration form. With online registration forms, you can fully customize the information requested on the form as well as whether each field is required or optional. That way, parents will be warned in real time and prevented from proceeding if they try to submit a form without all the data.
4. Collect Child Care Fees at Registration Time
The easiest way to collect child care fees, for both you and parents, is immediately at registration. Make sure your registration form outlines your center’s fee schedule and payment options, and includes space for payment details such as credit card numbers, direct deposit information or a void check. When you make it easy for parents to pay right away, you prevent time-consuming follow-ups and streamline your bookkeeping.
Collecting registration fees is another opportunity to make use of child care management software. Integrating online payments with your online registration form is easy for parents, and saves you time with processing payments and depositing checks. Plus, child care software can integrate directly into your bookkeeping solution, to conserve even more administrative time.
5. Make Registration Forms Accessible for Child Care Providers
Gathering detailed information on each registration form can be a powerful tool for your center, but only if you make sure that information is put to good use. Ensure that all of your child care staff have easy access to each child’s registration information to quickly call up drop-off and pick-up rules, medical information and preferences when needed.
If making that many photocopies and fingering through files in cabinets seems like a hassle, it may be time to consider digitizing your records, or having registration take place entirely online. When records are digital, copying is effortless and each child’s form is instantly accessible from any device, anywhere in your center. And it’s easy to update information as needed and immediately transfer it to other child care solutions such as student progress tracking or parent engagement apps.
Digitize Your Child Care Registration Forms with Procare Solutions
If you’re looking to improve your child care registration process, one of the biggest steps you can take is to digitize your registration forms.
Online registration is safer and more convenient for both parents and child care providers, and Procare’s easy-to-use child care management software can help you build the best possible registration portal for your center.
With Procare’s intuitive online form builder, you can customize your child care registration forms, share digital forms with parents and collect payments in just three easy steps. Information from each registration form is stored in Procare’s platform, making it easier than ever to use your data for attendance tracking, parent engagement, progress reports and more.
This child care registration form template was designed by our expert community to fit the needs of programs just like yours. Simply save the file, print it out and share it with parents to make registering new students a snap.