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What to Include in Your Child Care Parent Handbook?
Effective communication is a hallmark of a fruitful child care center. A comprehensive child care handbook for parents fully defines every relevant information helpful to parents, from discipline philosophies and teaching procedures to policies and schedules.
Parents will always be aware of what they can expect from the daycare center to forestall future issues. Furthermore, reviewing the child care center’s handbook can help them determine the best center for their child.
Also known as the parent handbook, a child care handbook is a vital document outlining the operating details, policies, and philosophies of the facility it represents.
Consider it the foundation of communication between your center and the parents of the kids you care for, who are essentially your customers. Provided you regularly update the handbook, your clients will always be aware of what they can expect from your team and center.
This knowledge breeds confidence, and your child care business will avoid awkward occurrences or any future legal issues.
Sections of Your Handbook
While child care parent handbooks vary across facilities, several key elements stand out. Let’s explore the key areas to include in yours:
The mission statement or child care philosophy section is among the principal elements that potential customers check when evaluating your child care facility.
Use it as an opportunity to define your business’ approach to parent engagement, discipline, and early childhood education. Outlining these vital details makes it easy for potential customers to ascertain whether yours is the right place to nurture their child. It’s also a great approach to setting expectations and preventing any future complications.
Even if you’re preparing the daycare parent handbook for already registered families, always provide your facility’s enrollment details. Your existing customers may want to inform another family about your safe and reliable daycare center. Highlight the enrollment eligibility requirements and program costs.
It’s also vital to provide waitlist information to inform returning families, for instance, about any early-enrolment windows or if they can get spot preference. They should also know whether to expect to get a sibling care opportunity even when there’s a waitlist. Finally, let them know when they should expect to hear back. All these areas are critical for families seeking enrolment.
Sometimes parents’ well-laid plans may change. So ensure you include information about withdrawal as well.
- How should they notify you of their intended move?
- What’s the ideal timing for the notice?
- Are there any withdrawal penalties?
Typically, withdrawals can be infrequent, but if you lay out the details in the parent handbook for daycare, concluding a care agreement can be smooth since every party understands the procedure.
While you’ve probably experienced specific cases where you have to contact a parent or vice versa, it’s still vital to include a section about general communication with parents.
Your facility will regularly connect with parents, so be sure to cover the following vital communication elements:
- When and how often you’ll expect to meet parents across a session
- What a parent conference covers and how parents should prepare
- How parents will receive routine updates, like through an app or by sending weekly or daily newsletters
- How parents can update or amend basic details like address, e.g., by filling out a form or logging in to an online portal
Reliable communication between staff and family is crucial for daily daycare operations. A great way of facilitating this communication is by setting out the basics in your handbook.
It’s crucial to assure your customers that the people who mean the world to them are in safe hands. So make sure you inform the parents about your basic security policies, protocols, and procedures. For instance, you may notify them that they must enter the classroom holding their children’s hands for safety. If needed, you can describe the security arrangements in detail.
Health and Safety
This section should cover necessary details regarding the safety and health measures in your child care facility. Talk about how you intend to comply with state and federal regulations, including outdoor playtime or child-to-staff ratio, and where parents can verify your certifications. If any organization outside a state agency accredited you, be sure to include this information in this section of the handbook.
Code of Conduct/Behavior
Clearly defined codes of conduct in the preschool parent handbook will set expectations for how your care community members should treat each other. If you articulate your position, everyone will come in with an understanding of mutual respect. So outline how children should behave towards their teachers and vice versa.
It’s also important to mention any disciplinary procedures for staff and children. Understandably, this may be an uncomfortable subject, but everyone should know how you’ll handle behavioral issues. Furthermore, mention how parents will receive any incident notifications.
Drop off/Pick Up Policies
Families in your center should know your policies regarding pick-up and drop-off times. The details would include start times, fees for late pick-up, and other relevant policies.
For instance, you may allow parents to guide their three-year-olds into the classroom even if the teacher doesn’t see them. In this case, let them know that your policy requires each parent to hold their child by the hand and walk with them to class.
The more information you provide about your facility’s daily operations, the better. You’re taking care of the people that mean the world to them, after all. That’s why it’s essential to include a daily schedule example in the parent handbook daycare publication.
It’s also essential to describe what the day-to-day activities look like. Provide information like snacks or mealtimes, scheduled activities and lessons, free playtimes, and outdoor playtime. Furthermore, specify when naptime commences, various activities and programs available to your kids, and other relevant information.
Preparing for unfortunate eventualities and emergencies involves informing parents about your child care facility’s emergency procedures. Whether it’s an accident or weather alert, mention all the guidelines here. Furthermore, make them aware of your emergency meeting points if the care center’s building is damaged and clearly describe how you’ll contact them.
This is also a suitable space to describe how parents whose children have medical conditions can cooperate with teachers to develop an emergency strategy.
Stay factual here. There’s a low likelihood of an actual emergency occurring within your facility, and the chances are that the upcoming sessions will be without incident. While all parties must prepare for emergencies, nobody should be unjustifiably alarmed.
This section differs based on separate facilities’ licensing requirements. However, ensure you provide details about your licenses and where or how parents can access information about your facility license issued by your federal, state, and local authorities.
Licensing units probably send out surveys to parents to rate the services they receive from your program. So make sure you give parents a heads up here; that the licensing agency may regularly request them to comment about your child care program or facility.
The Benefits of a Solid Parent Handbook
You now understand how crucial the handbook details are and what should be included in the different sections. But how does your child care center benefit from a solid parent handbook? Let’s explore:
It helps you set expectations – This crucial document helps you set expectations for children, parents, and staff from the onset. Clear expectations regarding tuition payments, child pick up, or communication will help you avoid issues down the road.
Improved productivity – After writing the handbook, you’ll not waste time explaining basic information like your facility’s operating hours, philosophies, policies, or curriculum details. You’ll only need to send them a link to your document, and they’ll peruse the page at their convenience.
- Improved revenue flow – A well-thought-out handbook attaches a sense of professionalism to your child care facility. This, in turn, boosts parent confidence that you can deliver quality care to the people they care about the most. As a result, they’ll not mind paying the monthly fees.
- Avoid legal issues – A clearly outlined handbook can prevent problems with regulators and protect your child care facility’s reputation.
- Clearly, writing a well-thought-of child care parent handbook can benefit your organization immensely. But make sure you do it right.
- The above guidelines will help you create an all-inclusive document, but it’s always better to partner with a reputable industry expert.
Need Help With Your Parent Handbook?
At Wonderschool, we understand how hard you work to ensure you deliver excellent experiences to parents and their children. Therefore, we offer a robust suite of sales, marketing, curriculum planning, and business management tools to aid your operations.
So don’t hesitate to join our community for an opportunity to improve your child care center.