If you’re planning to start an in-home daycare center, you will need to create an in-home daycare contract.
Contracts are legally binding agreements where two parties agree to exchange a product, service or good, for compensation. Your in-home daycare contract defines your responsibilities as a child care provider and the responsibility of parents to compensate you for your valuable service.
In this blog, you’ll learn how to write a daycare contract and the most important details that you should include to manage expectations with parents and protect your business.
What is an In-Home Daycare Contract?
An in-home daycare contract is the paperwork that you will present to parents who are interested in enrolling a child at your home daycare center.
The daycare contract is an agreement that includes:
- All the most important policies and procedures of your in-home daycare center.
- All the features and benefits that are available as part of your home daycare business.
- Payment requirements for parents, including fee schedules and payment methods.
- Any terms and conditions related to the enrollment of a child at your daycare center.
- Space for gathering information about the parent and enrolled child.
Why You Need an In-Home Daycare Contract
There are several reasons why it is crucial to write an in-home daycare contract and ensure that parents read it thoroughly and sign it before you begin caring for their children.
Many in-home daycares use the initial daycare contract as an opportunity to collect important information about children and their families, including immunization history, histories of illness or allergies, food preferences, emergency contacts and more.
When parents sign your in-home daycare contract, they’re agreeing to your fee structure and agreeing to pay for your services on a timely basis. Without that agreement, you may find it difficult to hold parents accountable or seek recourse if payment issues crop up.
When enrolling a child in your in-home daycare, parents need to be made aware of all policies and procedures before signing on the dotted line and making their first tuition payment. That way, there are no unpleasant surprises when they find out something later that was never told to them during registration. An in-home daycare contract ensures that parents start out with realistic expectations about what your daycare center offers and how it operates.
In-Home Daycare Contract: Most Important Terms and Details
If you’re just starting to write your in-home daycare contract, it’s important to be as thorough as possible in describing your services and providing parents with all the information they’ll need to work with you.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the most important details that you should include in your home-based daycare contract.
Before you present your contract to parents, we’d recommend getting it reviewed by legal counsel to verify that it is legally valid and adequately protects your business and the children in your care.
Child & Parent Information
In most jurisdictions, child care centers are legally required to collect and retain records with personal, health and safety data for children in their care. Not only are these records important for compliance, but also they empower daycare center staff with the information they need to make decisions that protect child welfare.
If you do not have a separate form for collecting child and parent information, your in-home daycare contract should include fields where parents can fill in:
- The child’s name, birth date and home address.
- The names, birth dates and home addresses of the child’s parents.
- One or more emergency contacts who can be reached in case of an emergency during the designated child care hours. Emergency contacts should be identified by their name, relationship to the child, address and contact information.
- The names and contact information of any individuals authorized to pick the child up from the daycare center.
- The child’s previous history of disease, illnesses or conditions requiring medical attention.
- The child’s immunization record, or a form from a qualified medical practitioner indicating why it is unsafe for the child to be immunized.
- Clear, written instructions for the administration of any drug that the child has been prescribed and how they must be dispensed by child care providers at the daycare.
- A list of food or environmental allergies, along with any special dietary requirements.
Your in-home daycare contract should contain all the information that parents will need to understand your fee structure, what payment methods you accept and when you expect to be paid for your services. When you include these details in the initial contract, parents can never be surprised about fees and charges that appear on their weekly or monthly invoices.
Here’s a quick list of things you should include:
- A fee schedule with a breakdown of all services you provide and their related costs. Most in-home daycares start with a base rate for routine childcare, but may charge extra for meals, school pick-up/drop-off and other services.
- A description of any late pick-up or early drop-off fees that you may charge to parents when they leave kids at your daycare outside of your normal hours of operation. The industry standard fee for late pick-up is $1 per minute.
- Your policies for returned checks, including any fees you will charge if a parent writes you a check that gets returned at the bank. A standard fee for returned checks is $20 per incident.
- Your policy for late payments, including any fees that you intend to charge when parents are late to pay their child’s daycare enrollment.
- A description of the payment channels and payment methods you support.
Contract terms like late pick-up fees and late payment fees aren’t meant to be punitive. Their purpose is to create real financial incentives for parents to pay tuition on time and through the appropriate channels. This is necessary to maintain cash flow for your business and ensure you can provide the children in your care with everything they need to stay happy and healthy.
Activities & Scheduling Information
When preparing your in-home daycare contract, you should include clear information about your general availability, daily schedule and the activities you provide.
Many parents work in places where they’re expected to schedule their time off weeks or months in advance, so it’s important for them to know when you’re planning to be open or closed throughout the year. Here’s what you should include:
- Your weekly operating hours, including your opening time and closing time for each day that your daycare center is open throughout the week.
- Your holiday policy – many daycares choose to close for holidays, as parents have the day off work and frequently choose to spend the time at home with family.
- Information on any vacations you plan to take. If you are planning a two-week vacation in six months, parents should know about it as soon as possible so they can make alternative arrangements for their kids.
- Your policy for weather-related closures. Are you open rain or shine?
- A list of on-site and off-site activity opportunities offered through your daycare center.
Contract Termination Policies
One thing you should always include in your in-home daycare contract is a way to get out of it – both for parents and for yourself.
Here are some things you should think about including under that contract termination clause:
- As a child care provider, you should have the right to end child care arrangements with any family for any reason, provided you give a reasonable amount of notice. This applies whether you decide to change careers, go back to school or move to another area. A typical notice period for termination of service is 30-90 days.
- Include a line in your contract explicitly indicating that you still expect payment for child care services rendered during the termination period, regardless of which party initiating the termination of service.
- Assert your right to discontinue child care services if parents miss payments or are behind on payments.
Additional Terms and Conditions
In addition to the items listed above, it’s important to add any additional terms, conditions, policies or procedures that are unique to your daycare center.
While these details may not be important from a contractual or legal perspective, they still serve to inform parents and manage their expectations for your child care center. Some common items include:
- A bullying or behavior policy – What behaviors are considered unacceptable at your home daycare center? What is your policy for identifying and correcting those behaviors? For parents and for children?
- Discipline policy – How will you discipline children who don’t follow the rules? Child care providers should be able to communicate with children about acceptable behaviors and deliver age-appropriate consequences when needed.
Manage Your In-Home Daycare with Procare
Procare has been the leading child care software company for over 30 years, supporting child care providers with the information and capabilities they need to streamline business processes, deliver high-quality early education, and make critical decisions that impact child welfare.
Procare goes beyond paper contracts and form templates, providing digital child care management solutions that help child care professionals stay organized and save time while expediting key administrative processes.
With Procare, home daycare operators can:
- Track Family Information – Keep children safe with quick access to child profiles, emergency contacts, and immunization and allergy records.
- Enhance Early Childhood Learning – Plan lessons, conduct student assessments, track milestones, and share results with parents – all on our digital platform.
- Communicate and Engage with Parents – Send newsletters, pictures & video, assessment portfolios, progress updates, event invitations and more.
- Keep Staff Organized – Manage staff scheduling, payroll, timecards, and benefits.
- Streamline Tuition & Billing – Hold parents accountable to the billing provisions in your in-home daycare contract with attendance-based billing and automatic payments.
Procare is your competitive advantage when it comes to running your in-home daycare and providing the best possible experience for children and parents.