HOME AWAY FROM HOME FAMILY CHILD CARE
Welcome to Home Away From Home Family Child Care. I am a professional childcare provider who has been operating since 1983. I am CPR and First Aide certified. I have taken many other childcare related classes and continue to do so. (See workshop list in Education tab)
In order to make our relationship as enjoyable as possible and to prevent any misunderstandings; I have created this handbook. While I realize it is quite lengthy, please read the handbook thoroughly. Past experience has taught me that it is best to be as thorough as possible when explaining to a new family my philosophies, rules and expectations. Please feel free to discuss with me any questions or concerns you may have.
MY CHILD CARE PHILOSOPHY
My goal is to provide a safe and happy place for children where they can learn and grow at their own pace. I believe children learn through play and benefit from a structured, yet flexible schedule. Children will be taught to respect each other, adults, pet and property. My goal is to teach your child to Communicate, Negotiate, Problem Solve and Get along. If he can learn these skills, then the rest will happen. Every day I offer your child the opportunity to play with puzzles, games, art materials, play dough, books, music, language and science to support the learning process. If this is the way you would like for your child to play and learn then this is the place for you. I support their play by providing them with the necessary language so they learn to express themselves appropriately and to become a positive addition to society.
The following forms are required by Maryland State law and need to be completed prior to placement.
1. The Emergency Information/Enrollment Card Emergency Form
2. Food Program Enrollment Form
3. Medical and Immunization Records Health Inventory
4. Medicine Order Form Medicine Authorization Form
5. Signed Contract Contract and Policies
6. A Parent's Guide to Regulated Care Parent Brochure
7. Field Trip Authorization Field Trip Authorization Forms
It is the parent's responsibility to keep the immunization form up to date. According to state regulations this form must be updated and returned to the provider within 24 hours of receiving shots.
You are required to keep me informed of any change in addresses, telephone numbers, and other pertinent information listed on any/all of the above forms.
Please inform me if your child has ever had fever related seizures, other serious medical conditions or food allergies.
DAYS AND HOURS OF OPERATION
My daycare is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. with the exception of days off listed in this handbook and contract. When you enroll in my daycare I will ask you for specific hours you plan for your child(ren) to attend. Although I am open from 6:30 - 5:00, I base your fee on the hours you contract for. If you have contracted for a later arrival or earlier departure and need to leave your children later or bring them earlier, I am usually able to accommodate you. However, please be considerate and give me as much notice as possible. Also, if an early arrival or later departure becomes a fairly regular event, I may need to adjust your rate. Late arrival does not justify late departure.
Please notify me by your scheduled arrival time if your child will not be arriving for the day or if you will be late in arriving. I am up early so you may call me anytime after 6:00 a.m. Our day is scheduled around everyone's expected arrival time. While running 15 minutes may seem insignificant to you, it makes a big difference for me. If I know you will be running late (and occasionally several families may even be late on the same day) I can use that time to get something else done.
OPEN DOOR POLICY
Although I have an open door policy (which means you may visit during the day), I do not encourage parents to drop in. I find that visitors usually cause children to react in an excited manner that does not normally occur when I am alone with the children. I would appreciate you taking my schedule into consideration if you do plan to visit. Please also keep in mind that during the early afternoon it is our nap/rest time, and I prefer not to have any disruptions at that time if possible. Please do feel free to call at that time to check up on your child.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES
It is normal for some children to have difficulty separating from parents, or cry when being dropped off. Please be very brief (no more than 5 minutes) during drop-off times; the longer you prolong the departure the harder it gets. A smile, cheerful good-bye kiss, and a reassuring word that you will be back are all that is needed. In my experience, children are nearly always quick to get involved in play or activities as soon as parents are gone. Please be assured that if your child is having a difficult time settling down and is crying for a prolonged period of time, I will contact you.
Please be very brief at pick-up times also. This is a time of testing when two different authority figures are present (the parent and the provider), and all the children will test to see if the rules still apply. Some children have a rough time with these transition periods. Please help show your child that you respect me, the rules of my house, and my property by reminding them that the rules still apply when you are around. When you are here with your child, you are expected to discipline your child when their behavior warrants it. If you do not correct him/her, I will enforce my rules, and this is likely to cause a conflict.
Please bring your child dressed (in weather appropriate clothing) and ready to begin their day. Please do not bring food into the house in the morning. If you bring food it causes a problem in that the other children see the food your child has brought and want to have the food also.
Children should be transported to and from daycare according to state laws concerning car seats and seat belts. If there is a question as to who will be picking up your child, leave the car seat here on the back porch.
RELEASE OF CHILDREN
Your child(ren) will not be released to anyone except those indicated on the enrollment form. If there is an exception in the case of emergency, you must call and/or send a release note with that person. Identification may be checked.
The first two weeks of care are considered probationary. Either the parents or the day care provider may terminate the initial agreement at any time during this period. After the probationary period, a two-week's notice is required by either party to terminate the agreement (See Termination Policy). In the event of any violation of any article of our contract, provider reserves the right to terminate the contract without notice and deposit will be forfeited.
After the probationary period, two weeks notice is required for withdrawal by the parents. Parent will be required to pay the full two weeks regardless of the child's attendance. For termination by the daycare provider for reasons other than contract violations, two weeks notice will also be given. Any violation of any article of our contract will be just cause for immediate termination.
Your specific rates will be outlined in your Contract and Rate Agreement. Payment is due on the first day of the week that your child is in attendance. If fee is not paid when due, a late fee of $5.00 per day may be assessed. If payment is not received by Wednesday morning, child(ren) may not be permitted to return until all fees have been paid in full. Payments may be made by check or cash. You will receive a receipt at year end for tax purposes. If your child is not in attendance due to vacation, payment is due BEFORE you leave. In cases of illness, your payment is still expected unless other arrangements have been made. If I close my daycare due to my own illness, payment will be accepted on your first day back to child care.
Childcare Providers depend on their income just as you do, so please do not be delinquent.
Parent is responsible for payment of all charges incurred due to bounced checks. After a check is bounced, the required payment method is cash. If any charges and/or late fees are unpaid at the time of termination, all legal fees and court costs necessary to collect the outstanding charges will be the responsibility of parents/guardian.
For holding a vacancy for longer than two weeks, I may required a deposit.
Your fees are my entire income which includes taxes and social security. Beyond that, your fees pay for insurance, training, food, toys, equipment, art supplies, and all of the other items that your child will use. For children over age 3, a preschool program is provided at no additional cost. Like other self-employed workers, family child care providers do not receive the benefits many employees take for granted. Unlike other forms of self-employment, family child care is very restrictive. There is no room for growth. The state dictates the size of my business. I cannot take time off for appointments or obligations without careful planning and covering of my responsibilities. To protect precious time with my family you will find late fees in my contract. Most people have a 40-hour work week. Mine is well over 50 hours, and that does not include my training, preparation, bookkeeping, paperwork, shopping or cleaning time. I really DO NOT want the extra fees but it is unfair to have daycare families cutting into my already limited family time. I hope this gives you a better picture of the true cost of child care.
The day to day business cost is 42% of the gross of the daycare. Another 20% goes to business fees, professional fees, and business taxes. What is left, minus self-employment taxes, is the gross income of the provider. Your rate not only reflects my salary but the operating cost of the business. I hope this helps with understanding the rates and the reasoning behind my payment policies.
In cases of your child's potential absence due to parent's maternity or extended leave from his/her job, I still require payment for the entire time of his/her absence to hold your child's position.
ABSENCE DUE TO OTHER REASONS
There are a limited number of spaces available; therefore, weekly payments are not based on child's attendance. No refunds or reductions in fee are given for late arrivals/early departures, parental vacations, weather, or exclusion due to illness.
VACATION AND HOLIDAYS
A minimum of two weeks' notice of provider's vacation will be provided when possible to enable parents to obtain other care during that time. The parent is responsible for finding back up care. One week (5 days) of provider's vacation are paid vacation; I usually take this vacation during the first week in July. I also receive one week (5 days) unpaid vacation during the week between Christmas and New Years. Please understand and please remember that vacation and days off are necessary to avoid provider burnout.
Full payment is expected for the parent's vacation. Please give me the courtesy of at least two weeks' notice when you are planning vacation. Once you have given me notice of upcoming vacation, I will revise our scheduled activities. Daycare may not be available if your plans change. No daycare services will be provided on the following paid holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and my birthday, which is the day after. (note. since I take a full week unpaid vacation during the Christmas holiday, I may allow the 3 December paid holidays to be unpaid as a gift to you.) Should an above paid holiday fall on a Saturday, the preceding Friday will be taken as the paid holiday. If an above paid holiday should fall on a Sunday, the following Monday will be taken as the paid holiday. Occasionally, I may need to take additional days off for appointments, family activities, training, etc. I will try to schedule these days as far in advance as possible so that you can arrange other care for your child. I also will try to pick a day that is convenient for the majority of parents, if possible. These days will be unpaid.
Daycare service is usually available and no adjustment will be made due to absenteeism. In the event of severe weather all efforts will be made to keep daycare open. However, cancellation of daycare, delayed opening or early closing is up to the provider's discretion.
Occasionally the provider may find it necessary to leave the daycare home for a small portion of the day. A qualified substitute will be provided if this is necessary. Parents will be informed in advance, if at all possible, if this is to take place.
BACK UP CARE
When choosing Family Child Care it is imperative that you have reliable back up care available. In the event of provider illness, vacations, or personal time off, it is the responsibility of the client to arrange alternate care. However, I am very reliable and hard working, so I will make the utmost effort to remain open when at all possible.
According to state regulations a provider may not allow a child to enter or remain in care if the child is exhibiting symptoms of acute illness. A child who has a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash or other condition contagious to other children, or needing close attention is to be kept at home. Any fever over 100 indicates a transmissible illness and the child must be kept at home. Furthermore, a child with a frequent, active cough and/or a very runny nose needs to be at home. Children who are lethargic, generally not "acting themselves", or are unable to participate fully in our daycare routine, should be kept at home. Your child must be symptom free (without the use of medication) for 24 hours before returning to daycare. Please notify provider any time your child has a contagious condition that they may have exposed another child in provider's care to.
If your child becomes ill while in my care, I will make the determination as to whether or not the parent is to come for the child. Each case is different and new situations may arise, but in general, aside from obvious symptoms of illness (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) if your child is acting sick, lethargic or too uncomfortable to participate in our normal daycare routine, I will be calling you to come get your child. Please know that when I make that call to you I have done everything I can possibly do, and we have reached a point where parental care is needed. Please do not make me feel guilty if and when I do have to call you to come and get your sick child. If you are called to come for your sick child, you must pick him/her up within one hour.
I strictly enforce the sickness policy. This is for the well being of all the children and the parents. Exposing the other children in my care to your child's illness starts a cycle of passing the illness throughout all the daycare families enrolled at Home Away From Home, causing many parents to have to miss work to care for their sick child. Also, if you bring your sick child to my daycare and my children or I become sick, then I will be unable to care for your child, and I will have a loss of income. At one time or another you will be inconvenienced by your child being sick. It happens to everyone, but you must understand that when your child is sick, they are not allowed to be in my daycare. I cannot offer sick child care. This is a state law. Please remember to save some vacation days just in case you need to stay home with your ill child.
Written parental consent is required to permit me to give medication of any kind. Please try to give medication at home whenever possible. Please do not send medication in a bottle or cup of milk, juice, etc. to daycare with your child. There is no guarantee your child will finish this drink and get all of their necessary medication. Also, if there are other little ones around, they may accidentally pick up your child's drink and take medication not meant for them. All medication must be provided in the original container and include written instructions. I am permitted to give only one dose of non-prescription medication per illness, except acetaminophen (Tylenol) and topical medication. If your child needs more than one dose, a Medication Order Form may be completed by your child's doctor to allow me to administer the medication more than once. I will not administer the first dose of any new medication to your child. The first dose is to be administered by you at home with several hours for parental observation of a possible allergy.
It is the policy to inform parents of the nature and type of routine physical contact their child(ren) will experience while in my care. There is NO physical punishment at my daycare at any time. It is my belief and practice that children need nurturing, adult physical contact for their care and healthy development. This contact can be described in three ways:
1). Nurturing: This includes hugs and non-intimate kisses, hand holding, gentle tickling, caring and cuddling. This type of contact is never made against the expressed wishes of the children.
2). Safety and Guidance: This includes restraining children from harmful situations, separating physically conflicting children, directing children by leading or guiding them and administering first aid to injuries.
3). Hygienic: This includes face and hand washing, assisting with bathroom duties (as appropriate to the age of the child), diaper changes, examining rashes or unusual marks, nose blowing, applying sun screen and assisting with or conducting necessary clothing changes.
It is also my belief that it is normal and healthy for children to express affection with their peers. This includes hugs and non-intimate kisses and hand holding. This type of contact is never made against the expressed wishes of the children.
All children are required to lie down for a rest period in the afternoon. All children must nap, rest or read quietly during this period. Although our nap time may vary depending on our activities on a particular day, usually it is from 12:30pm - 2:30pm. Rest gives everyone a much needed break during the day. If your child has a special blanket or stuffed animal he/she sleeps with please feel free to send it along. I would ask that you please avoid picking up or dropping off your child during nap time, as it disturbs the other children's rest period. If you cannot avoid coming at nap time, please be quiet and considerate of the children who are resting.
ACTIVITIES & CURRICULUM
The main goal of this child care is to learn while having fun and improving social skills. We will be utilizing a variety of activities to accomplish this goal. Free play, reading, arts and crafts, music/singing, dancing, pretend play, puzzles and educational TV/videos are just some of the activities we will be doing.
Using the computer as a tool, your child will learn things such as hand/eye coordination, letter and number recognition and colors. We have a variety of preschool programs we use to let the children learn at their own paces.
We have a large fenced in yard complete with all the equipment necessary to improve large and small motor skills, balance, coordination, & imagination.
I implement many parts of many different preschool programs. We learn through guidance and self expression. If your child becomes interested in frogs and toads, then we'll do some research and preschool based around that topic. As of now we use Carol's Affordable Curriculum, Reach for the Stars, Perpetual Preschool, and KrayonKids for ideas.
I am happy to assist in potty training. If possible, it is best for you to initiate potty training over a weekend or vacation. Please do not begin training before your child is ready. If potty training is begun when your child is ready, the task is easy and quick. When the time is right for your child and until he/she is totally successful in his/her toileting, he/she should wear clothes that promote his/her independence. The best items are shorts and pants with elastic waists, or dresses. Try to avoid really tight clothing, pants with snaps and zippers and belts, overalls and onesies. These are difficult for children to remove "in a hurry". Please send 2-3 extra outfits while potty training.
While training, children must wear training pants with plastic pants over them or pull-ups. If your child seems to be doing fine with no accidents during the day at home (with no prompting from you to use the potty) and remaining dry at naptime, then he/she can wear underwear here. (Remember that sometimes the level of play here tends to make children "forget" to stop and go to the potty.) Please be considerate of my home and belongings and do not send a child in underwear that is not ready!
ITEMS BROUGHT FROM HOME
As of right now, I do allow the children to bring a special item from home if they would like. If your child has a special blanket or stuffed animal they sleep with they are welcome to bring it. However, I do not encourage children to bring their toys to daycare. Some children are just not ready to share their special toys. I am not responsible for lost or broken toys brought from home.
Parents are responsible for supplying formula, baby food, disposable diapers and wipes, ointments, etc. You must also supply at least one COMPLETE change of clothing appropriate for the weather.
Breakfast is approximately 8:00 am. Lunch is served around 11:30 am and afternoon snack around 3:00 pm. Children are always offered all the food group items but are not forced to eat. Children who choose not to eat will not be able to eat until the next meal or snack time.
Parents are responsible for providing food for children on a special diet.
We do have 2 dogs that are very friendly with the children. All rabies vaccines are up to date. They are kept indoors behind the sofa in a nice comfy spot and the children are taught to treat them with kindness. Scooby barks when parents and children arrive. That's his way of getting attention and wanting to see everyone. We also have Fred, a Springer Spaniel puppy we got this past spring. We also have 3 cats. All animals are very friendly.
Please respect my profession, my home and me. The respect that you show me, including my home, furnishings, equipment, yard and other children will communicate itself to your child and will make for a better working relationship. There are certain house rules that all children will be taught and expected to follow.
The following rules are enforced for the safety and well being of everyone. There will be no running permitted in the house. Hitting, pushing, biting, grabbing, kicking, spitting, or pinching other children/infants/adults will NOT be allowed. No standing or climbing on chairs, tables, or furniture. No playing on the steps (either inside or out). No disrespectful language will be used. Children are to keep food and drink in the proper area. Children are not permitted to lift and/or carry other children while in my home or on my property.
Children and families are welcome in any areas of the home that are used for child care purposes. My family and I also need some privacy and separation from the child care. Please respect this. It is hard for my family to share their home/wife/mother, so intimately, with other children/families, for so many hours each day. It is important for them to feel that they have their "own" space. My children are expected to keep any toys/objects that they are not prepared to share, in their rooms, away from the other children. Therefore, children and child care families are not permitted in the bedrooms.
If your child intentionally damages my property through destructive behavior or roughness, you will be liable for the damages.
My philosophy is that you use discipline to teach a child. I achieve this through love, consistency and firmness. I stress two main patterns of behavior: respect for other people and respect for property. The children are explained the rules of the child care home frequently so they are all familiar with the guidelines.
Please keep in mind that there will be disagreements between children. Young children, especially, who are not adept at communication, have a hard time expressing their feelings. Sometimes they hit or throw toys, etc. Although teaching children appropriate behavior is what I will be doing, remember that this behavior is normal in most cases.
The following methods of discipline will be used;
Encourage children to solve problems themselves
Intervention and discussion
Re-direction to another play area
Loss of privileges
If I feel there is a chronic behavioral issue that needs attention, I will let you know so that you and I are handling it in the same way and your child has continuity in discipline between our homes. These types of behavior might include such things as biting, chronic hitting, etc. Together we will try to find a solution. If your child's behavior prevents me from being able to properly care for the other children, you will be called to remove your child from daycare. If the problem continues, other arrangements for the care of the child will have to be made, for the safety and well being of all.
As a home care provider, I have a responsibility by law to recognize and report any evidence of child abuse-physical, emotional or neglect.
REVISIONS TO HANDBOOK AND CONTRACT
Parents will receive at least two weeks notice concerning changes/updates in this handbook UNLESS it is a new State or County regulation that I have no control over, in which case the change will take place immediately. I will notify parents in writing of any changes.
If an emergency should arise and the daycare provider is unable to contact either parent or other authorized person, the daycare provider will use her discretion in the seeking of medical aid and the parents will be responsible for payment.
Any violation of these guidelines (Daycare Contract/Rate Agreement and/or Parent Handbook) will be cause for immediate termination of care.
Provider reserves the right to enforce any part of this contract, without voiding the whole contract.
REMEMBER time spent with your child is precious and passes by quickly. Please pick up your child promptly after work.
Pictures will be taken of the kids at play. We use these for many things including but not limited to: emailing parents, on websites, memories, sharing with families, posting on daycare walls to generate a feeling and sense of belonging.
All agreements stated in this contract are up to the provider's discretion. Failure to comply with one clause does not make the remaining clauses null or void.
I /We are contracting for daycare on ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ from _______ to _______.
FEES: The current fees are as follows: $_________per week. Payment for weekly fees shall be paid when each child is dropped off Monday morning. If fee is not paid on Monday morning a late fee of $5.00 per day may be assessed. If payment is not received by Wednesday morning, child may not be permitted to return until all fees have been paid in full. Fee of $5.00 per 15 minutes or fraction thereof may be assessed if a parent is late picking up their child. Please pay at the time late fee is assessed. Parent is responsible for payment of all charges incurred due to bounced checks. After a check is bounced, the required payment method is cash. If any charges and/or late fees are unpaid at the time of termination all legal fees and court costs necessary to collect the outstanding charges will be the responsibility of parents/guardian.
Date ____________ Parent or Guardian ___________________________________
Date ____________ Parent or Guardian ___________________________________
Date ____________ Daycare Provider ____________________________________