1. Importance of Family Child Care Contracts 
2. Basic Elements to Include in Your Contract for Daycare
3. Applicable Child Care Policies to Include in Your Contract
4. Benefits of a Child Care Contract

Contracts for daycare providers are important for those in the childcare business. These contracts can help protect your business from potential liability, but they also provide operational assistance in defining the responsibilities of parents and the facility itself. No matter whether you're the new parent or the potential nanny, working with a professionally written contact can bring peace of mind to both parties. 

Importance of Family Child Care Contracts 

Typically, child care providers are small business owners and should have written contracts and policies in place to assist with parent communication. These contracts are the agreements that spell out the child care services and costs, while policies detail how the provider will care for the child. These contracts and agreements include pertinent information. 

All contracts need to contain basic information like the names and ages of the child/children as well as parent's and/or guardian's contact information. Payment details should be explicitly explained and include forms of payment accepted, when payments are due, any overtime rates or late pick up fees, deposit due (if applicable), and special holiday and vacation rates. 

Contracts can also discuss termination procedures, including what the cut off is for parents to stop services with short notice. There should be a clause that states you will still receive payment during the termination phase, regardless of whether the child is under your care or not.

Basic Elements to Include in Your Contract for Daycare

At a minimum, your contract for daycare should include some standardized elements, such as the following: 

  • Names of all parties — including children's names — and contact information
  • Contract terms
  • Times and hours of operation 
  • Cost of services and how payment is to be made
  • Add-on fees, such as late fees and field trip fees 
  • The procedures to terminate the contract
  • Signatures, which are important to ensure the contract can be enforced in court

You can also discuss different policies more in-depth that will answer a variety of the client's questions and help you avoid misunderstandings with the parent(s). For parents, working with a daycare provider who is dependable and has a clear standardized policy can make them feel more secure. Returning to work after having a new baby, or taking on more hours at work, is stressful for new parents. They want to make sure their child is well taken care of.  

Applicable Child Care Policies to Include in Your Contract

Contracts for daycare providers should include detailed descriptions about a wide range of policies. 

  • Your policies should include important illness policies that cover a range of topics, such as the following: 
    • What steps are you taking to reduce risks of illness?
    • At what point do you send a child home?
    • When are kids required to stay home if they are sick?
    • When can they return to child care?
    • How are injuries and emergencies handled?
  • What about provisions for when you get sick as the provider? How will that work — is there a substitute?
  • Discuss medical records and how you maintain those records, when they need to be updated, etc.  
  • Other policies that should be addressed in child care contracts:
    • Outdoor play policies
    • Policies on trips outside of the family child care location
    • Policy on bringing toys from home
    • Mealtime policies
    • Rest and naptime policies
    • Potty training policies
    • Diaper changing
    • Curriculum
    • Supplies 
    • Rules on child's behavior
    • Policies on reporting suspected child abuse or neglect
    • Pickup policies
    • Permission policies (situations that may require written release)

Some childcare professionals like to review agreements with parents several times a year, or at least once a year. When you're reviewing the contract with the parents, have them sign and date each page so there is no question whether or not they understood each section. If there is a point in time where you feel it's necessary to modify the contract or make a change to your policies, it's advised to give the parents time to adjust. Consider two to four weeks' notice so they have the opportunity to plan accordingly. 

If you're looking for sample child care contracts, Childcarenet.org and Providerwatch.com have good examples.

Benefits of a Child Care Contract

Daycare contracts can protect both providers and clients by having everything in writing. By preparing a daycare contract that encompasses all these policies, you can potentially avoid disputes and unpleasant encounters with the parents.  

Do your clients respect your business? By communicating rules and expectations, you also position yourself as a professional daycare business.

If you need help with contracts for daycare providers, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel only accepts the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.