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Policies and procedures describe how you plan to operate your program.
As a child care professional, you will have to make some difficult decisions. Both the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) use the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct as a guide for ethical behavior.
When you set your hours of operation, consider factors that affect your parents:
Also think about factors that affect your own family:
Family child care providers often can be more flexible than center programs. They can extend hours if necessary on a case-by-case basis to accommodate parents' work hours. Many child care programs charge a late fee to encourage parents to pick up children before closing hours. Make sure your operating hours do not extend beyond the time you are able to devote the necessary energy and attention to the children in your care.
Your parent handbook outlines your program's policies and procedures. It includes information that is important for your parents to know. Encourage families to read the parent handbook and to ask questions. Parent handbooks often include the following topics:
Many states require that you have written policies and procedures for parents. Check with your state licensing agency to find out if it requires certain information or policies. Child Care Aware® of America's State Licensing Information Map provides you with direct links to the office in your state that is responsible for child care licensing.
A staff handbook outlines the expectations that you, the business owner, have for your employees.
If you want your staff handbook to be a binding agreement between you/your business and your employee(s), you should review it with each staff member. Discuss any questions they have. Consider having staff sign the document saying they understand the contents.
The following topics are often included in staff handbooks:
Check with your state licensing agency to find out if you are required to share certain information or policies with your staff.
Disasters and emergencies will happen. Include procedures in your business plan on how to handle the emergencies and disasters that are most likely to affect your geographic area. Develop a checklist or use an existing checklist suitable for your area. Regularly practice the procedures with the children and staff to ensure their safety.
Accreditation by a nationally recognized organization shows that your program has a higher-level of quality than is required by licensing. To be accredited you will need to be licensed and in operation for one year. Accreditation is for a specific amount of time, usually three to five years. As you plan your child care business, take steps that will help you reach accreditation.
During the accreditation process, you evaluate your program based on specific program standards. When you are finished, the accrediting organization looks at your records and observes your program. It then decides if your program meets its standards.
Advantages to accreditation:
The following organizations have nationally recognized accreditation programs.