Write a Daycare Contract

If you would like to start your own daycare, one of the first things you should do before you accept any children is create a daycare contract or daycare agreement. This type of contract is important because it protects you and your business and also lets parents know what's expected of them.

The contract doesn't need to be long. Ideally, shorter is better. Anything longer than two pages could be too daunting for the parents and they may not read the entire agreement. Always have two copies; one for the parents and one for your files. If you wish, you can get the parents to initial all pages except the one that has the full signature.

What to Include

When someone thinks of a contract or agreement, images of fancy words and expensive lawyers comes to mind. The truth is that a daycare agreement doesn't need to be anything fancy. It should include the following:

· The full name of the family of the child.

· Your full name as well as the name of your business

· How many children will be in the daycare, the hours of care required as well as all fees to be charged to the family

· When you will begin caring for the child and when care for the child will end, if applicable.

· The signature of the parents or guardians. Make a line for each parent, if applicable.

· The date the contract is signed.

· Your signature.

Rates and Payment

There's always the chance that money can become an issue. Make sure you clearly list your rates. You need to also make it clear when the payment is required and the consequences of being late. Make sure you include a clause about no credit being issued for absent or sick days.

Don't forget to include information about what you expect for payment when the parents pull their child(ren) from your daycare for vacations. Make it clear whether you charge a full or partial rate during vacation time. Also include information about the length of notice you require before their vacations.

Be specific about when you would like payment. Include consequences for bounced checks.

Probation and Termination

Allow yourself a probationary period. This provides you with an out if the child is extremely difficult. It also provides the parents a way to get out of the contract if, for some reason, they don't like the care provided. Add in your contract something along the lines of "The provider, parent and child have a probationary period of ten business days. Either party may end this contract without penalty during this time."

Parents also need to know your policy in case they wish to terminate your services. Reasons vary from moving to discipline reasons. A two-week notice is the norm and it's not unusual to request full two weeks payment if no notice is given.