A family child care is a small business. As a business, there should be policies and procedures in place that both the provider and client know and understand.
Typically in child care, there is a "parent handbook" that is part of the registration process. This outlines all of the if, ands, or buts that can occur over the course of the year.
In Massachusetts, DEEC Regulations state that a child's file be updated annually. I recommend that you also review your handbook and update the policies and procedures once a year. The reason for this is that there are changes in the State's regulations each year that you may need to adjust for. There are likely also changes that have occurred for you or your family over the last year, which could influence certain aspects of your business.
What you decide to put into your handbook depends on how you choose to run your program and what legal protections you want. Below, I have posted an outline you can use to set up your handbook. It is not an exhaustive list, but I did include the various components used in GFC's handbook. I have removed items specific to my program and left some more generalized statements that can be copied.
If you want to view my complete handbook for 2016-17, you can view that here. Please note, the outline below is just that: an outline. You will need to edit it and add your own program information to make it complete. This is a format that was approved by my licencor at my last home inspection, November 2015.
Parent Handbook Outline
A Word from Department of Early Education and Care
EEC is the agency that oversees the early education and care and after school services for families in Massachusetts. As the agency that licenses child care, EEC has quality standards for all licensed programs to ensure high educational value, as well as health and safety. Having a license means that I have demonstrated that I meet the standards outlines in the EEC regulations.
To obtain your own copy of EEC Family Child Care Regulations, you may download them from the EEC website at:
For information about my regulatory compliance history, you may contact our local EEC regional office, whose contact information is as follows:
10 Austin St.
Program Hours & Closures
Regular program hours
Regularly Scheduled Closings:
Closings where payment is not required:
Multiple Child Discount:
Late tuition payment costs $20 per day.
Late pick-up fee
Scheduled early drop off and late pick up
To withdrawal from the program, written notice is required 2 weeks in advance. No refunds for tuition will be given. There is no deposit, therefore, no deposit will be refunded. If no notice is given before the last day of attendance, 2 full weeks tuition will be added to the balance. Parent/Guardian is responsible for all legal fees, any lost income, or other costs I incur while attaining that balance.
GFC reserves the right to terminate a contract at any time for any reason. Notice will be given in writing.
Owner & Lead Teacher:
Use of Assistants:
Staff health records, driver's licenses, certifications, DEEC qualifications, DOE licence, CPR/First Aid certification, and documentation of orientation and professional development are kept on site. These are available for view upon request.
Open Door & Breastfeeding Policy
I can care for mildly ill children in my program, however there will be times when you will need to keep your children at home. If your child is sent home due to illness, regardless of any diagnosis or lack thereof they will not be able to attend the following school day during the same week. If your child is too ill to attend to normal activity on a stay-at-home-day, please keep them home from school on the following school day.
If your child is unable to play, eat, sleep, and/or toilet as they would on any other day, then they should be kept at home. If your child has a fever (100.5+), diarrhea, vomiting, contagious illness (such as conjunctivitis or strep throat), or lice, you should keep them out of care until those symptoms have resolved or been under treatment for 24 hours.
If your child will be absent,
Plan for Meeting Potential Emergencies
EEC regulations require that I have a plan for meeting potential emergencies that may occur either during child care hours or at any time if they may affect the operation of the program. In the event of an evacuation emergency, I will contact the local authorities to determine whether or not to evacuate the program or to remain sheltered in place.
The escape routes from each floor of the licensed child care space are as follows:
Steps to Ensure Child Attendance and Safety
Missing Child Policy
Hold In Place
EEC regulations require me to maintain an individual written record for every child I have in care. These records include the information that parents complete at enrollment, as well as progress reports, incident reports, and other documentation regarding your child’s care. All child information must be updated upon enrollment and annually. All child enrollment packets will be updated in August of each year, with the exception of children who are newly enrolled during the month of August. Enrollment packets are given out on site. Child immunization and health records must be updated upon enrollment and annually. All child immunizations and health records must be current, within 12 months.
As a parent, you have access to the record that I maintain for your child and you have the right to add information or request that information in your child’s records be changed or deleted. You also have a right to receive a copy of your child’s record. One copy is allotted each year free of charge, if requested. Additional copies are $15 each.
Please let me know about any questions you have regarding your child’s record.
Maintaining a Safe Environment
EEC has a number of licensing standards related to safety in a Family Child Care Home. Most of these standard outline common safety precautions such as making dangerous materials inaccessible to children, covering outlets, having a first aid kit, practicing evacuation drills, gating stairs, windows, or heating elements, posting emergency numbers, and maintaining a clean, hazard-free indoor space. Also, the outdoor space must be safe and hazard free and there should be no access to a busy street, water, construction materials, rusty or broken play materials, debris, glass, or peeling paint.
Lead Poisoning Prevention
All Family Child Care Educators are required by EEC to provide parents with information regarding the risk of lead poisoning. The following are some facts that all parents should know about lead and lead poisoning:
- Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Lead is poison when it gets into the body.
- Lead can stay in the body for a long time. Young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead may never go away. Lead in the body can: hurt the brain, kidneys, and nervous system; slow down growth and development; make it hard to learn; damage hearing and speech; cause behavior problems.
- Most of the lead poisoning in Massachusetts comes from lead paint dust in older homes. Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint on the inside and outside of the building.
- When old paint peels and cracks, it creates lead paint chips and lead dust. Lead dust also comes from opening and closing old windows.
- Lead dust lands on the floor. Lead gets into children’s bodies when they put their hands and toys in their mouths. Children can also breathe in lead dust. Children between the ages of 9 months and 6 years are most at risk.
- Important: Home repairs and renovations also create lead dust.
- Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. A lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning. Ask your doctor to test your child for lead.
- Some children may have: upset stomach, trouble eating or sleeping, headache, trouble paying attention.
As mentioned earlier, if your child is over nine months of age, you will need to provide documentation to me that your child has been screened for lead poisoning. Most children will be screened annually until either age three or four, depending on where the child lives.
I am require to disclose to you if I am aware of any known sources of lead in my home. Information regarding known sources of lead in my home are unknown. The home was built in 1973. The lower level area that is used for Garrison Family Care was finished as a livable space in the 1980’s.
For more information on lead poisoning you can visit http://www.mass.gov/dph/clppp or call the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at 800-532-9571.
Supervision is critical to keeping children safe. I will appropriately supervise children in order to ensure their health and safety at all times. I will use good judgment and consider several factors in determining the appropriate level of supervision for children including age, developmental needs, behavioral characteristics, the nature of activities and the space we are using. If you have any questions about how I supervise the children in my program, please ask.
Supervision of children is equally important during times that a child is sleeping at the program, particularly when that child is an infant. EEC has very specific regulations around safe sleep practices. All infants are places on their backs to sleep, unless a child’s physician orders otherwise, such an order must be given in writing.
I check on children at least every 15 minutes during naptime. If your child is less than six months old, I will directly supervise them during naptime for the first six weeks they are in care. For more information regarding Safe Sleep go to review the Family Child Care Policies section of www.eec.state.ma.us.
Children have a regularly scheduled rest time after lunch. All children must be on their mats for the first portion of rest time; children are not required to sleep. Rest time takes place in the play room. Children have individual nap mats and they can bring sheet, blankets, and stuffed toys from home to use during the time.
Children who no longer nap will be able to use quiet toys, puzzles, and books after those who need naps fall asleep. At no time will a child be forced to sleep or be denied sleep.
Breakfast and Snacks
Infants should bring food, formula, and/or breast-milk that has been provided at home with no ill effects. No new food will be given to infants while they are in my care.
Self Help Skills
During meals, children will be encouraged to serve and feed themselves as often as possible. Children will have opportunity to help prepare food, use butter knives, and drink from open cups.
My home is not set up as an allergy free environment. If your child has a food allergy, please get in touch to discuss your options. I am CPR and first aid certified through the American Heart Association, which includes training for epinephrine pens.
Curriculum and Progress Reports
Curriculum at Garrison Family Care is designed for children ages 24 months - 5 years of age.
Child Guidance Plan falls in line with regulations set by DEEC.
EEC has regulations requiring Educators to have a policy regarding the administration of medication to children in care. As a licensed Family Child Care Educator, I am required to take medication administration training. The following guidelines are common to all programs that are licensed by EEC:
- Prescription medication must be brought to the program in the original container and include the child’s name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the number of times per day and the number of days the medication is to be administered. This prescription label will be accepted as the written authorization of the physician.
- The program will not administer any medication contrary to the directions on the label unless so authorized by written order of the child’s physician.
- The parent must fill out the Authorization for Medication Form before the medication can be administered.
- The program needs written parental authorization to administer oral non-prescription medication. The parent must fill out the Authorization for Medication form, which allows the Educator to administer the non-prescription medication. The statement must be renewed on a weekly basis.
- In the case of unanticipated non-prescription medication that is used to treat mild symptoms, the program must still have written parental authorization, however it must be renewed annually.
- The Educator wil make every attempt to contact the parent prior to the child receiving the non-prescription medication unless the child needs the medication urgently or when contacting the parent would delay appropriate care unreasonably.
Topical Ointments and Sprays
- Topical ointments and sprays, such as petroleum jelly, sunscreen, diaper rash ointment and insect repellant, will be administered to the child with written parental permission. The signed statement from the parent will be valid for one year and include a list of topical non-prescription medication.
- When the topical ointments and sprays are applied to wounds, rashes, or broken skin, the Educator will follow the written procedure for non-prescription medication which includes the written order of the physician, which is valid for a year, and the Authorization for Medication form signed by the parent.
- The first dose must be administered by the parent at home in case of an allergic reaction.
- All medications must be given to the Educator directly by the parent.
- All medications will be stored out of reach of children. All medications that are considered controlled substances must be locked and kept out of reach of children.
- The Educator will be responsible for the administration of medication. In her absence, the emergency contact care person.
- The program will maintain and written record of administration of any medication (excluding topical ointments and sprays applied to unbroken skin) which will include the child’s name, the time and date of each administration, the dose, the name of the person administering the medication. This completed record will become part of the child’s file.
- All unused medication will be returned to the parent if possible, or disposed of in accordance with the Department of Public Health guidelines.
I am required by EEC regulations to notify you of certain information about my family child care home. These notification include, but are not limited to:
- an injury to your child
- allegations of abuse or neglect regarding your child
- if another educator will be caring for your child
- the administering of first aid to your child
- whenever a communicable disease has been identified in the program
- children being taken off the child care premises
- the existence of firearms in my home
- if there are any changes in my household composition
- prior to any pets being introduced into the program
- whenever special problems or significant developments arise
GFC will not be responsible for any accident or injury involving your child that may occur in the course of normal play. Parents or legal guardians agree that any medical insurance and/or medical bills for their child will be the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian.
As a licensed Educator in Massachusetts, I must operate my program in a way that protects children from abuse and neglect. As such, I am a mandated reported (under M. G. L. c.119 s51A) and must make a report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) whenever I have reasonable cause to believe a child in the program is suffering from a serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse inflicted upon the child or from neglect, no matter where abuse and neglect may have occurred or by whom it was inflicted.
Communication and Staying Involved
What I Need From You
On or before the first day your child attends child care, I need a copy of the completed Enrollment Packet, Enrollment Contract (to be competed on site), and the first & last weeks of tuition. Without these completed documents, which must be updated annually, I cannot care for your child. The reason for this is so that I have all the important information and phone numbers I will need in order to provide the best possible care for your child.
Medical information about your child must be given to me within one (1) month from the day your child begins care.
There are three (3) pieces of medical information I will need:
1. A statement from a physician or health care professional that says your child received a physical exam within the part year;
2. Evidence that your child has been immunized as recommended by the Department of Public Health;
3. If your child is nine (9) months of age, 1, 2, or 3 years old, a statement from a physician or health care professional which says that your child has been screened for lead poisoning.
Please Note: Your child’s immunization record must be updated and given to me in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s immunization schedule. Also, your child’s lead screening report must be updated as required by Department of Public Health Regulations. This report must also be given to me. If your child is school age, I can accept a written statement that the required information is on file with the child’s school.
What to Send With Your Child
What to Keep at Home - Please do NOT send these items
- toys, especially toys that are typically used for violence or that are special (like new birthday gift)
- candy, gum, medicine, cough drops
- chap stick, purfume, lip stick, nail polish, etc
- money, real or pretend
- electronic devices, phones, iPads, Kindles, cameras, computers/laptops
Signing the Enrollment Contract ensures that you, the parents and/or guardians, have read, understand, and agree to this Parent Handbook.