This means you will need to take yourself and your work seriously and treat the parents as business clients, even if they are also friends or relatives.
You will be most successful if you are able to distinguish and find a balance between the caring attention required for child care and the focus required for managing your business.
Some child care providers find it very difficult to talk about money, rules, or expectations with their clients.
One factor that can greatly complicate this is growing so close to the children in your care that you leave behind your responsibilities as a business owner.
Do your clients respect your business?
Some providers have complained to me that the parents don't treat them like a business. Usually the reason this happens is because the provider doesn't act as if she is running a business.
You can establish a health business relationship by clearly communicating your rules and expectations. Doing so will help reduce and resolve conflicts and bring you the respect you deserve.
Basic elements of a written contract
The most effective way to establish your business relationship with parents is to use a written contract.
You are responsible for setting your own rules. Some states require providers to include certain terms in their contracts. Other than these requirements, you are free to put whatever you want in your contract and to create as many policies as you wish.
At the very least, your contract should contain these four basic elements:
Names of the parties: your name, the parents' names, the names of the children
Terms of the contract: There are two terms in a contract that are enforceable in court -
Time - The hours and days you are open
Money - How much parents owe your for your services: when payment is due, late fees, registration fees, field trip fees, etc.
Termination procedure: How will the contract end
Signatures: Both parents (if around) and yours
If you need help with writing a contract, there are a variety of sample contracts available to choose from.
First Children's Finance has posted a number of tools and resources about contracts on their website. They include a sample contract template, a contract termination form, parent interview form, parent evaluation form, and a number of articles on writing and enforcing your contract.
My book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies has a simple one-page contract as well as a CD with many different contract and policy examples you can cut an paste in a Word document to create your own.
Redleaf Press publishes a two-page contract template with carbon copies.
The contract is your primary tool to set your hours and rates and spell out how it will end. Review it once a year to make sure it meets your needs.
Tom Copeland - www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: nakaliconsulting.com
For more information, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.