Creating a Policy Handbook

So recently I was going through my policy handbook and I asked another provider about their opinion on a policy.  I was having trouble with the wording and wanted someone else’s thoughts on it and I was surprised … shocked really … to hear that she didn’t have a policy handbook at all!  OMG really?!?

I seriously just about fainted.  I then went on a tirade on her about how important it is for her to not only have a contract but a handbook of some sort with policies that weren’t covered in the contract.  So then she tells me “Well Marina, I wouldn’t even know where to start”.  Which totally makes sense.  I can remember back to when I first opened up and all I had was a single sided contract and two pages of policies.  Mine was bare bones and basic.  Oh how inexperienced I was.  Over time I added to it as issues arose and today my contract is 8 pages (front and back) and my handbook of policies is 25 pages (front and back).  I cover EVERYTHING there is to cover because I want my clients to know what I expect from them as well as what they can expect from me. 

So then my provider friend asked me for suggestions and help with writing her own policies and that got me to thinking.  There’s so many ways to write a handbook because we all do so many things differently and I for one am not going to try to tell someone else how to run their business but what I could do is make a list of policies that I have to work as a jumping off point.

Front Cover

I got a little creative with my cover.  I wanted something that was colorful and fun since I work with children so I chose a font that looked like “messy” handwriting but that was still eligible and added some fun colors to the title.  I also added my logo.  I put my personal information on the bottom so that clients could easily take the handbook and find my information.

Inside Cover

On the inside of the cover I chose to put in the legal stuff like copyright.  I work hard on the documents that I create and can sometimes spend hours creating a single form.  My handbook is my baby … I honestly can’t tell you how many hours I spend on it because I honestly don’t know.  What I can tell you is that I constantly work on it during the year changing it, adding to it, clarifying it etc. and then at the beginning of the new year I give my clients the new ones and the cycle starts again.  This makes my handbook sort of like my baby.  I tend to it and nurture it while it grows.  So the last thing I want to see is someone take my hard work and claim it as their own so I add the copyright part into it.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE helping other providers out … all I ask is that I be given credit where credit is due.  I had help from another provider when I changed the format of my handbook and I gave her credit in it so I expect the same in return if anyone is going to copy and paste anything and use it as their own ;).

Table of Contents

I added one when my handbook got to be longer than 10 pages.  This makes it easier for me and my clients to find policies easily.

Quick List

My handbook is broken down into chapters and then broken down even more into sub-sections.  I won’t be going through each and every policy that I have however I will make it simple and list the areas that I do cover in my policies.  Some topics I’ll describe a little bit to clarify a bit more if they aren’t clear.  This should give you an idea of what you can add to your own policies.  I will also include a link to my own handbook to show you an example of mine looks like.  Feel free to use it as inspiration but remember to customize it to the way that you want to run your business.


  • ·        Group Care Setting – explains that this is group care and that specialized individual care is not available
  • ·        Non-discrimination policy
  • ·        Child Care Philosophy
  • ·        Mission Statement
  • ·        License Data – license number and how to get a hold of licensing
  • ·        Mandated Reporting – explains that I am a mandated reporter and what that means


  • ·        Admission – requirements before a child is considered enrolled
  • ·        Trial period – the length of time and how it works
  • ·        Waiting List – how I use one and how it works
  • ·        Priority – explains how families wanting the most hours get priorities over those that want less
  • ·        Supplies – the items that are required to be supplied by the parents
  • ·        Forgotten supplies – what happens when those required items are forgotten
  • ·        “Loaner” Items – items that I have on hand that I can loan out and replacement of those items if they are not returned


  • ·        Operating hours
  • ·        Payments – when they are due
  • ·        Accepted Forms of Payment
  • ·        Security Deposit – the amount and what it’s used for (also known as the 2-week deposit)
  • ·        Invoices – explain that I write invoices, when I create them
  • ·        Receipts – how they can get a receipt
  • ·        Additional Fees – situations where parents can incur additional fees (late payments, returned checks, late pick-ups, early drop-offs)
  • ·        HOA Fees – explains that I live in a community with a Homeowner’s Association and that any fees that I incur because of a client or their guest will be paid by the client
  • ·        Unpaid Childcare Fees – what happens if the client has unpaid child care fees


  • ·        General Services – brief summary explaining that I provide different services based on each family’s needs
  • ·        Full-Time Care – Explains what that means
  • ·        Part-Time Care – Explains what that means
  • ·        Drop-In Care – Explains what that means
  • ·        Arrivals & Departures – who’s responsible during this transition, children should arrive prepared for the day, sign-in procedures, entrance safety procedures, first arrivals, late arrivals, no shows, transition difficulties
  • ·        Release of a Child – who the child can be released to, people that appear under the influence of a substance, child custody issues
  • ·        Weather Appropriate Clothing – comfy clothes appropriate for weather
  • ·        Parking – cover issues that may arise
  • ·        Noise – cover issues that may arise (slamming doors, running cars, children left in cars while picking up siblings, loud music etc)


  • ·        Full & Part Time Attendance – covers late drop offs, early pickups, when a family’s needs to turn in their work schedules
  • ·        Client Vacation/Absences – do they get vacation days?  Sick days?  Is payment required if a child is absent for these reasons?
  • ·        Daycare Closures – explains what happens in the event of the provider getting sick, provider vacation, holidays, emergencies. Other closures and whether payment is expected


  • ·        Infants & Toddlers – what the day is like for them
  • ·        Preschool Age – what the day is like for them
  • ·        Rest Time – nap time, quiet time etc
  • ·        Field Trips and Outings – where do the kids go
  • ·        Vehicle Transportation - permission forms, notice
  • ·        Pets – any living in the home
  • ·        TV/Media Devices – how long are they allowed, what is allowed
  • ·        Items From Home – what is allowed, who is responsible for them


  • ·        Meal Times – how many, schedule, what is expected from the children
  • ·        Food Program Participation – what it is
  • ·        Infant Meals – how often, what they are fed
  • ·        Meals for Older Children – how often, what they are fed
  • ·        Allergies & Special Diets – are specialized meals offered, medicals forms required for specialized diets
  • ·        Beverages – what drinks are served


  • ·        Illness Policy – procedure for when children get sick at daycare
  • ·        Symptoms for Exclusion – specific illnesses and symptoms that would require a child to stay home
  • ·        Re-Admittance – what is needed in order for a sick child to come back to daycare
  • ·        Dr’s Notes – requirements for a doctor’s note (child name, date, diagnosis, treatment, length of recommended exclusion, clearance from doctor to be able to return to daycare etc.)
  • ·        Medication – whether it can be given at daycare or not, waivers/forms required
  • ·        Topical Products – whether they will be used at daycare or not (diaper rash ointment, sunblock, lotion, toothpaste etc.), waivers/forms required
  • ·        Basic Safety – explanation of how supervision will work
  • ·        Smoking – whether the household is a smoking household or not, whether smoking is allowed in the home or property
  • ·        Emergency Contacts – the importance of having emergency contacts
  • ·        Injuries – how minor injuries and medical emergencies will be handled
  • ·        Universal Health Precautions – hand washing, sick siblings
  • ·        Cleaning & Disinfecting – procedures, products used
  • ·        Emergency Policy – the procedure of what happens in case of a fire, utility outages, evacuation procedures, fire evacuation drills, emergency meeting areas, sheltering in place

Discipline & Guidance

  • ·        Child Care Rules – the rules that the children must follow, basis of the rules
  • ·        Discipline Plan – how the children are disciplined, strategies used, strategies not used, plan for repeating challenging behavior, plan for verbal altercations, plan for physical altercations, plan for biting
  • ·        Damages – policy for when a child intentionally damages property


  • ·        What you are willing to do and not do
  • ·        Information about signs of readiness
  • ·        Required supplies and clothing


  • ·        Substitutes & Assistants – requirements and job duties
  • ·        Policy Revisions – how much time needed to change or add a policy, how the notice is given (writing)
  • ·        Referrals – incentives given
  • ·        Privacy Policy – policy about the privacy of families as well as the provider and her family
  • ·        Rights – child care provider’s rights, the rights of the children, the rights of the parents


  • ·        Parent Withdrawal – the procedure that a parent must take to give their termination notice, penalties if they do not follow through
  • ·        Provider Termination - the procedure that a provider must take to give their termination notice

There’s a lot to consider, I know.  But keep in mind that you can decide what to include and what to exclude from your own policies.  A contract is the legal document that specifies the basics of your agreement such as the hours or schedule of the client’s child and the amount of money that the client will pay you.  Your policy handbook will cover all of the items listed in the contract as well as other necessary topics but you will discuss each in great detail so that there is no misinterpretation.  


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