What should be in the parent handbook from your child’s daycare program?
High quality child care programs are dedicated to establishing and maintaining relationships with each child’s family. A high quality early learning program will provide opportunities for and encourage parent involvement in the program’s activities. As a part of family engagement and communication, a quality daycare will also provide a parent or family handbook designed to let you know important information about the program.
A good parent handbook tells families about the child care program while welcoming and encouraging them to get involved. Some parts of the handbook cover rules and policies, most of which are required by Child Care Licensing. A handbook should be written in language all families can understand. The goal of the handbook is to let you know what to expect from the program and what sort of involvement the program would like to have from you.
Basic handbook information includes:
- Provider contact information – Look for your preferred method of contact – do you like to email, call or text? Ask for contact information you prefer if it’s not provided.
- Enrollment procedures and forms:
- Your family contact information
- Your child’s health information (SC DSS form 2900, certificate of immunization and any other pertinent health information about your child)
- Emergency contact information for your child
- Contact information and identification for anyone authorized to pick up your child
- Written permission for your child to:
- get emergency medical treatment
- be transported (for field trips or events)
- have medication administered
- participate in swimming activities
- Policies about:
- Fees and payment – The rate and frequency of tuition payments; additional fees for early drop off or late pick up or late payment
- Confidentiality – How the program will keep your child’s records and information safe
- Release of children – Security measures used to ensure only authorized people pick up your child
- Tracking – Method to account for all of the children as they move from space to space within and around the facility
- Discipline – Look for a statement that no corporal punishment will be used. This policy should also describe the program’s policies and techniques for disciplining children. If corporal punishment is used by the program, parents must sign a waiver. Programs in ABC Quality are not permitted to use corporal punishment
- Absences/termination of care – How many days can your child miss before the program removes him from enrollment?
- Transportation/field trips
- Emergency closings and preparedness plans
- Emergency safety and medical plans
- Care for mildly ill children
- Illness and medication distribution
Find evidence of a quality program in additional handbook information like:
- The program’s philosophy and mission statement
- Non-discrimination policy
- Description of other services offered, like:
- Various age groups (infant, toddler, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, 4-K)
- Before or after school programs
- Full-day care
- Half-day care
- Inclusive care (practices and policies that support the inclusion of children with disabilities or developmental delays in the program)
- Breastfeeding friendly care
- Curriculum that is thoughtfully planned and developmentally appropriate provides opportunities to learn through play/exploration, provides activities to develop children’s reasoning, problem solving, language and peer interaction skills, and plans small group time where teachers can work individually with children
- Child assessments and/or screenings conducted by the program to inform the decisions you and the program make for your child’s continued development
- Information about the program’s dedication to good nutrition in the meals and snacks it serves to children
- Free and full access policy – Notice given to parents that they have free and full access to the program their child attends at all times.
Some documents and notices are required by law to be given to parents. These include:
- Proof of liability insurance – All child care providers must show proof of liability insurance to families. If the program does not have insurance coverage, it must provide you with a written notice that it does not have liability insurance.
- Provisional employment policies – If a program chooses to hire temporary (provisional) staff, it must provide a written statement to parents that provisional staff members may be employed when an unexpected staff vacancy occurs. Provisional staff members aren’t required to have all of the health and safety training of a regular caregiver, but must have the same background checks.
Becoming familiar with the parent handbook for your child’s early learning program is the first step to becoming involved and engaged in your child’s development in child care. Read the handbook. Ask your child’s teacher or program director questions. Use opportunities offered by the child care provider to be as engaged and involved as possible in your child’s learning and development.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for a child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team on October 10, 2017