Is your daycare enrollment form capturing the information you need to comply with state regulations and deliver the best possible care?
If you’re not sure, then it’s probably a good idea to review and update your enrollment forms.
Enrollment forms in child care do more than just register a child at your center – they’re an important way to start collecting data about children and their families, supply parents with the most current information about your center, and ensure a smooth transition into the child care environment.
In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at how you can make the most of your daycare enrollment forms. We’ll explain what these forms are, why they’re important, and everything you should include to achieve the best outcomes for your business.
What is a Daycare Enrollment Form?
A daycare enrollment form is the application that parents must complete to get their kids started in a new child care program.
A complete enrollment form should cover every aspect of the enrollment process, including:
- Establishing an agreement where you provide child care services in exchange for child care tuition payments based on a transparent daycare fee structure.
- Collecting personal information about children and their families that is necessary to ensure the child’s safety and meet regulatory requirements.
- Verifying that parents have been made aware of important information about your center, including mandatory disclosures, policies and standard operating procedures.
- Collecting payment information and setting expectations for the child care billing process.
Parents often receive a child care enrollment form as part of an application package that includes information about the child care center, its policies and procedures, and any mandatory disclosures that may be required by law.
Why are Daycare Enrollment Forms Important?
A detailed daycare enrollment form can have a positive impact on your business in many different ways. Here are just a few of the things you can accomplish with a great enrollment form and application package.
Making a Good First Impression
Your enrollment form could be one of the first documents parents receive from your child care center. That’s why it’s important to make a good first impression.
If your enrollment form is detailed, well-organized and transparent about your pricing and services you provide, you’re already building trust with parents and helping them feel comfortable about choosing your center.
Creating a Child Care Agreement
Your enrollment form should create an agreement between your center and the parent, where you provide child care services and parents pay tuition fees for their kids based on their ages and how often they attend your center.
Parents and child care centers both benefit from creating a child care agreement. The child care center promises to provide services according to the agreed schedule, and the parents promise to pay their tuition fees on time so the center can meet its financial obligations and stay open.
Ensuring Child Safety
To consistently make the right decisions and keep every child safe, child care providers need access to personal information about each child, including their medical history, food or environmental allergies, and who is authorized to pick them up from the center.
All of these details need to be collected and verified before the child begins attending the center, and there’s no better opportunity than the daycare enrollment form.
Complying with Local/State Regulations
Some states require child care centers to collect certain information and retain records about the children they care for and their families. Other states have mandatory disclosure laws that require child care centers to provide specific notifications or disclose certain information to parents. These requirements can be satisfied by adding more information or additional fields to the enrollment form.
Setting Expectations for Parents
As parents fill out your enrollment form, they should be learning more about how your center functions. Your application package will include details like your operating hours, fee structure and conduct policy. Parents should be asked to provide a signature verifying that they’ve read the information provided and know what to expect from your center in the future.
Learning about the Child
Daycare enrollment forms can go deeper than simply asking for a child’s medical history and immunization records. Many child care centers use their enrollment forms to start learning about the child’s unique personality, likes and dislikes, favorite toys and games, biggest challenges and other characteristics.
Child care providers can use this information to plan activities that can appeal to the child’s interests, address their biggest challenges and accelerate their development.
What is on a Daycare Enrollment Form?
Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of enrollment forms for your business, let’s take a closer look at the questions to ask on your forms to get the best results. Here’s everything you can collect from new applications to your child care center using a daycare enrollment form:
Child Care Enrollment Agreement & Payment Terms
Your daycare enrollment form needs to function as a child care agreement or contract. It should include the cost of care, acceptable payment methods, a payment schedule, and any additional terms or conditions that are necessary to protect your business.
You may choose to present your enrollment fees as part of a daycare fee structure that breaks down the fees for all services your center provides.
Basic Personal Information about the Child
Next, you’ll want parents to fill out basic identifying information about their child. Here’s what you should be asking for:
- The child’s first name, last name, middle name and biological sex.
- The child’s home address.
- The child’s date of birth.
Information about Parents & Family
Parents will also need to provide personally identifying information so your center knows who they are and can contact them. Here’s what to ask for:
- The mother’s first, middle and last names.
- The father’s first, middle and last names.
- The home address, work phone number and mobile phone number of each parent.
- The full name, address and contact information of any other legal guardian(s).
- Names of additional trusted persons who may be called in case of an emergency, along with their contact information.
- A list of individuals who are authorized and should be permitted to pick the child up from the center.
Child Medical Information
After you’ve asked parents to provide basic identifying information about their child and themselves, it’s time to focus on the child again – this time by asking for some medical history information. Here’s what you need to find out:
- The name, address and phone number of the child’s physician or dentist (in case of an emergency).
- Is the child on any medications? Will they need to take those medications during child care hours?
- Does the child have any known allergies or anaphylaxis? Are there any foods or environmental hazards that should be avoided?
- Does the child have any ongoing or chronic medical condition that the center should know about?
- Has the child received all of his/her immunizations?
Child Personality Information
Asking about a child’s personality as part of the enrollment process is a great way to understand more about the kid you’re enrolling and prepare to make them feel welcome during their first week. And parents appreciate that you’re working to get to know their child right off the bat. Here are some ideas around what child care providers can ask about new kids during the enrollment process:
- What are the child’s favorite foods? What foods do they dislike?
- What are their favorite toys and games?
- What movies or TV shows does the child enjoy?
- What is the child’s favorite outdoor activity? Indoor activity?
- Does the child have any fears?
- Does the child usually nap during the day? If so, at what time? What if they have trouble falling asleep?
- Are there any behavioral issues that the center can help address?
- How is the child disciplined at home? How should the center deal with bad behavior?
- What are the child’s biggest challenges so far in life?
Equipping child care providers with this information makes it easier for them to start connecting with new kids and building strong relationships that lead to happy parents.
Acknowledgement of Child Care Center Policies
As part of your enrollment process, parents should sign or initial somewhere to acknowledge that they have read about the most important policies and procedures at your center. Those policies should be included in the application package to ensure that parents always receive a copy when they apply.
Parents should only be permitted to send their child to your center after reading and acknowledging all of the important policies. These should include the fee structure (and attached late fee policy), any smoke-free or nut-free policies that apply, conduct policies for both parents and children, and any other policies that are important for your center.
Acknowledgement of Key Dates
Your daycare enrollment form should list the dates that your child care center will be closed during the year. You should have parents make a signature next to the dates to verify their understanding that your child care services won’t be available on those dates.
Acknowledgement of Disclosures
One last thing you should add into your daycare enrollment form is a spot for acknowledgement of disclosures. If state laws require you to disclose certain information to parents when they fill out an application, there should be space for parents to place a signature that verifies the information was properly communicated in compliance with the law.
Customize Your Daycare Enrollment Form with Procare Solutions
Child care centers can use Procare Solutions to digitize their enrollment forms and create customized registration questions that capture the most important information from families at the time of enrollment.
Procare’s child care app empowers providers with digital access to securely stored child and family records. As a result, child care providers can quickly and easily access the information they need to make the right decisions that keep every child safe.
With Procare, you’ll be able to optimize your child care registration process and make sure every family that joins your center is set up for success.
Are you ready to revamp your daycare enrollment forms with Procare Solutions?