Top 5 Must Haves for the child care provider

Today, I want to give you a list of the Top 5 Must Haves for the child care provider. These are the absolute must have procedures if you are new or fairly new to child care. I say new because I don’t think you would have gotten too far without these things. So if you have been a provider for awhile I am almost certain that you will have all or most of these in place.

These are without a doubt crucial to starting out on the right foot and building a thriving child care. So go ahead and check these off if you have them and if you don’t GET THEM in your business today.

Top 5 Must Haves for the child care provider

Top 5 Must Haves for the child care provider

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Top 5 Must Haves for the child care providerFirst and foremost you need the almighty CONTRACT.  You need a contract. Let me say that again,  you need a contract!  It is a must have. Believe it or not, it needs to be said, this is a very necessary document. I’m sure that many new providers like myself back in the day just could not imagine a situation where they would be taken advantage of. Sadly that usually is not the case. Especially if you’re not very clear about your expectations about your business. Just as in any other business transaction, a contract is very important document.

Do yourself a favor and pull download a standard sample contract (like RIGHT NOW, sorry for shouting). Start with that. Over time I have found the need to add to, amend and modify my contract many times. But it was very helpful to have something in the first place to grow from. has some fabulous books to get you started.


Policies & Procedures

These actually go hand and hand with your contract, but just in more detail. I find a good place to start is by simply using what your licensing agency requires of you. If you build those regulations into your policies, you are most likely to remain compliant.

Having set policies and procedures help to keep misunderstandings with parents less likely and at least less frequent. again is a great resource for good basic policies to use.

I will cover some strategies to enforce your policies in a later post, but for now, let’s get them in place first.  I find it very helpful to post my policies on my website.  Especially key policies like the Sick/Illness Policy.


By the way, if you have been putting off setting up your website, click here for the easiest way to get it up and running TODAY!


Enrollment DepositTop 5 Must Haves for the child care provider

Require a 2-week deposit equivalent to 2 weeks of care for each child.  This will ensure that you will receive the customary 2-week notice prior to termination.  Most providers have a 2 week paid termination policy.  This is pretty standard and quite simply one of the best policies you can have.

I have added this right into my contract and explain this requirement during the conversation about tuition fees with parents.  If necessary, you could offer to split up the payment of the enrollment deposit to be added to the initial tuition payments.  But I would not extend it more than 2 weeks into a new enrollment.

Most parents expect this now and don’t really resist it especially when you explain that it actually goes toward the last two weeks of care.

Be sure to create a receipt for the payment of the Enrollment Deposit so that if there is a balance remaining it will be a reminder of what is still due.


Time to TerminatePayment Policy

One of the most effective ways of receiving payment on time is to request payment in advance.  A couple of years ago it was suggested to me to make a change of when tuition payments were due.  I made the decision to require that client’s all pay in advance for the upcoming week of care. For example, I require them to pay on Friday of the current week which will cover the next week of care.  It totally makes sense!  Most people get paid on Friday.

If they don’t pay BEFORE then don’t watch their kids.

Of course, you will probably get a parent that will “forget” on occasion.  But overall this will prevent clients from getting behind on their payments and owing you money.


Look for a local family child care association and attend meetings. They offer support, networking with other providers, and most times workshops and training.  Often the training is free or very low cost.

My CCRA posts a monthly event list with some evening & weekend workshops available, which makes attending a lot more convenient.

This can also be a great place to network with colleagues.  Sometimes it’s good to talk to other grown-up people, for a change.

Solid Foundation

So there are the absolute Top 5 Must Haves for the child care provider.  All of which are tried and true and will serve the child care provider best.  These will give the new provider a great start and a solid foundation to grow a thriving child care.

Is there something that you just couldn’t do business without?  What would you add to this list?  Leave a comment and tell me your must have.

Further Reading:

Family Child Care Contracts & Policies

Starting a Child Care: What I got wrong and how I fixed it

Things I Added to My Contract

Is it Time to Terminate? – Top Ten Reasons To Let Clients Go

How to enforce your policies

Photos courtesy of: Flicker

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