Having an excellent parent handbook is key to ensuring a great start in communication! Whether you’re a home day care or serving the community from a center, your parent handbook is going to keep things nice and clear for your families.
So what needs updating and why? Nyckie shares her wisdom in this blog about the importance of a great parent handbook and why you need to update yours right now!
What is a Parent Handbook and do I need one?
Absolutely! Your parent handbook is an essential resource for any childcare program! The purpose of this wonderful book is to tell your families all about your day care policies and procedures. It makes things super-clear to them and they can use it as an ongoing reference. Guide your families through everything they need to know: payment policies, holidays, your hours of operation, what to do on sick days and more!
As a childcare business owner, developing a comprehensive parent handbook is vital. Not only can a clear and useful parent handbook support the transition and help with communication, it can act as a contract between your business and the people you provide care for. So you might want to ensure that parents read the handbook thoroughly, and then sign and date a page to acknowledge their understanding of all your policies and procedures. Before a child begins their time at your day care it acts as an agreement that they’ll adhere to the rules you’ve decided upon. (Top tip: Keep a copy of their signed handbook for your records, and refer back if rules are being broken.)
Things to include in your parent handbook (in case you’re new!)
Your handbook should contain a variety of policies and guidelines based on the requirements for childcare facilities in your state. It should include a list of all the essentials about your daycare. The full name, address and contact information of your facility, as well as the names and details of those in positions of responsibility in case of an emergency.
Don’t forget to detail payment information so that parents don’t have to go searching for the vital fees and deadlines! Make it as simple as possible. Provide a timetable displaying your hours of operation and any holidays you’ll be closed for. Give clear instructions about the drop off and pick up expectations.
Add in extra information about your philosophy and the way things run on a daily basis. Maybe you could include a schedule of activities and some info on how you manage behaviour. Parents find all this really helpful in their decision-making process. So make your daycare the right choice for them and make that choice super easy!
If you already have a handbook, you are probably wondering why you might need to update it. You spent hours last time round, and you’re thinking, “really Nyckie!?? What’s the point?” Well here’s some reasons why you ought to do it now…
Why you should update your parent handbook: Q3 already!
The first reason you need to look at updating is because we’re more than halfway through the year. You’ve had a good amount of time to review what’s working well in your daycare and what’s not been working for you.
Go through your current parent handbook and highlight the policies that need to be altered. Maybe it’s the payment policy – is it too flexible? Perhaps there’s some tweaks needed around the curriculum you’re offering. Or maybe you’ve decided to add in some extra hours to the facility opening times. Whatever it is, I’m sure there’s things that are working well too. Make sure you reflect on the positive as well as adjusting the things that need to change.
Another reason to update your handbook: Covid-19 & lockdown ending
We’re coming out of lockdown round about now, so you’ll want to make sure your parent handbook is updated to reflect any concerns around Covid-19. You can use the handbook to clarify things like symptoms or to explain how you’re up-levelling your hygiene processes to keep everyone safe. Most states have pretty much reopened up for childcare now, as we’re all starting to come out of lockdown.
The good news is that an end to lockdowns means that many businesses are back up and running! Yay! And the knock-on effect is that your childcare should begin to get a lot more new inquiries. But this also means additional responsibilities for you as a childcare business owner. With these changes post-Covid, you’ll find you have changes you need to make. Perhaps your child screenings will have to adapt to be socially distanced or via video call. Maybe some symptoms will no longer be accepted in your daily running of things, ones which we didn’t used to mind – like sniffles pr a tickly throat cough. But now we must be more cautious about things like that, to ensure that both staff and kids are safe.
So take a look at your handbook and see if there are things that perhaps need to be worded differently since the pandemic. Now is a really good time to make the necessary changes and stay on top of your childcare business.
Reason 3: Update the handbook to reflect any changes
Not only have you been dealing with a global pandemic, you’ll no doubt have had lots of other issues to contend with. So this is the perfect time to update your parent handbook in your childcare to reflect what’s happening. Have you made changes to staffing? If you were closed did you use the time to redecorate or change things round in your daycare? Whatever you might want to add to the handbook, keep parents informed and keep those communication lines firmly open!
Updating your parent handbook means you’re not leaving things to chance. Trust me, there’s danger in waiting for those moments when an issue crops up. Handle that now instead and take a pro-active stance.
How will you update your parent handbook?
I do advise we regularly update our handbooks and not forget about it after we have opened back up! If you want to hear more about why updating is so important RIGHT NOW, head over to the Childcare Ninja Facebook group where you’ll find my live chat about parent handbooks. Every week I go live and share strategies and ideas for building your childcare business into the legacy you’re dreaming of!
Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share advice and stories there too! We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!
This year has really thrown us some curve balls, hasn’t it? But it hasn’t all been terrible. I never thought that I’d be writing an article that featured two childcares, a global pandemic and a wedding. Honestly! Some of the stories and memories I’ve had from this time are up there with the best of ’em. And today’s blog is one of those good ones.
So let me begin…
“What a beautiful home you have, thank you so much for doing this.”
Those words came from the Mother of the Groom, as we stood in my kitchen while her son and his groomsmen were preparing for the Bride and her entourage. They were fixing each other’s collars and straightening their ties, giving their shoes one last buff. Each one of them was smiling and filling the room with happiness.
People flowed throughout my home with nothing but laughter, joy and celebration on such a glorious day. It seemed to be perfectly created as a wedding gift from God for our own happy friends.
Last minute “I dos”
When I stopped and looked around on the big day, I thought to myself how special it had turned out. The bride looked divine in her floral gown and her new husband was so smart. The guests were all dressed up, a few masks, but people respectfully distancing and it felt like a happy and non-judgmental environment, where love conquered all.
The ceremony was so incredibly beautiful, the food delicious, and the newly married couple were radiant. Everything was so beautiful and joyous that you wouldn’t even think that this awesome festivity had only been planned five days prior. I know! Jaw dropping, right?!
There were a couple of minor tweaks, due to the situation, but otherwise you’d never know! In fact, because the neighbor’s garden waterfall was in the background of some of the photos, relatives thought we’d gone somewhere exotic, not just my backyard!
Pandemic induced fear
The date had been set for months to take place later this year, but when Covid hit 2020, fear came too. So with the fear of our state being on lockdown again and in general conversation, the plan evolved on Monday to have a wedding in my home on Saturday.
We had to plan things a little faster than normal. But the changes we made were barely noticeable – especially to the untrained eye! I had no idea that you could get wedding cakes – beautiful ones! – from Sam’s Club, and I wouldn’t have known if no one had told me. I wondered how they’d managed to source one so fast! Amazing.
Neither was there time to organize fancy caterers, so we fed everyone chipotle – which went down a treat! And all the decorations for my home and the garden were last minute purchases from Michael’s craft store, but they were also well received by the guests.
The Pittsburgh Cookie Table tradition was the only thing that was missing. You know the one! Where all the family and friends bake for a special table laden with cookies. Mmmm. Well, there wasn’t time, but I don’t think people missed it too much.
Growing my childcare business
Which brings me to explaining how any of this has anything to do with two childcares!
It’s quite simple really. 13 years ago, this moment would not have been possible. Through years of testing out ideas, systems and processes to grow my childcare business. I started that business with very little and – through perseverance, my love of kids, and a belief in myself – I’ve grown it into a multiple 6 figure company that has allowed me to help create timeless memories both inside and outside my childcare business.
It brings tears to my eyes thinking about what a beautiful day I was able to provide for the couple who got married, and how much my financial situation has changed in a decade. Being able to give back like this is why I do what I do. And I know you can do this too. You can grow your childcare business into a sustainable and dependable 6 figure business that opens doors for everyone you love.
(With huge thanks to the incredibly talented photographer Anu Kolawole at MercyWerks Studios for kindly allowing us to share her beautiful images of this special day.)
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Recently our industry has been recognized as essential due to the pandemic. The need for emergency service staff, food store workers and other “essential” workers to place their children in care with us while they deal with the Covid-19 crisis has been a core part of this. This has been an interesting thing for me to observe, and I was wondering how you’re feeling about it?
As a childcare business owner of multiple spaces, with a large number of staff, I have been watching things unfold with attentiveness. I know that the majority of our parents have always thought of us as essential, but that isn’t always the case, so the realization by the wider public and government feels quite significant.
So this led me to pondering about our mindsets as founders in this business. I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read this blog…
How essential did you feel before?
It’s a funny one isn’t it? Before the outbreak here in the USA I, personally, considered the offerings of my business to be absolutely essential. I heard it from parents all the time. Being there to pick up the pieces when a treasured little human is finding separation anxiety tough, or when we can offer care to cover a night shift for someone whose shifts change last minute…I’d consider those things pretty essential, right? When you get feedback from clients like, “I don’t know what I’d do without you!” Or “You’re a God-send” you feel like they couldn’t do without your business. Or at least that’s what I have always felt like.
But I know that a few other childcare business owners feel like their services aren’t that important. That they’re considered casual or they don’t feel they’re needed – maybe the moms aren’t working and get their hair done while you watch their kids. Some have told me they’re not treated as professional by some of their clients or people in their communities – they’re “just childcare”. From where I’m standing, there’s no “just”! But I do understand that being told constantly that your an afterthought – sometimes even a frivolous expense – must be difficult to hear when the job feels so demanding and is all-consuming.
Which camp did you sit in and how do you feel now?
It’s not all fun and games
One thing I’ve noticed is that people posting on social media have changed their tone. They’ve gone from joking about how easy our jobs are and how we get paid too much for “just playing”, to acknowledging the challenges that childcare business comes with. Apparently they’ve realized that childcare is more than just fun and games!
And it’s dawned on people that trying to work while having a kid in tow is pretty tough…so I saw clients who initially tried to work from home with the children at home, but couldn’t get enough done. Which led to them booking their kids into daycare instead of relying on screens to mind them. Instead they get engaging activities and entertainment in a safe environment that doesn’t disturb mom and dad’s conference calls! And we now get grateful parents who thank us for something they’d taken for granted before.
Has the pandemic changed your business mindset?
The pandemic has hit us all in different ways, depending on where you are and how severe the lock down in your state has been. Here, in Pennsylvania, my business has pretty much carried on as before.
Has your mindset as a business owner changed since we’re now acknowledged as “essential”? Or did you always consider you and your team as indispensable? Are you cheering “FINALLY!” at the top of your lungs? I am so intrigued, because it definitely feels different hearing us being officially described as essential workers.
Perhaps you’re grateful for recognition? Is it like a badge of honor that we can now be held up as our healthcare workers and first responders are? After decades of providing care for thousands of children, we are now being given this accolade – it’s a little strange to think that it’s only just happened.
Where do we go from here?
It is certainly a strange time for many business owners, and I know some childcare owners have struggled – particularly outside the US where lock down has been stricter in some countries. But the change in attitude from the government and the wider public surely means that we have a general appreciation now, and perhaps we can see ourselves in a different light too.
Has it changed the way you look at yourself as a professional? Do you feel more professional than casual? I know that many of the parents I work with have a new found view on us, and I think I’m probably walking a little taller! I feel even more proud of the support we’ve given during the crisis to emergency workers, but in helping families maintain some sort of normality. We’ve been a safe haven for a lot of kids.
Now that we’re officially “essential” will this change the way you approach your work and customer interactions? Have you noticed any difference in you or your team?
I know this isn’t the usual kind of blog post I share with you, Ninjas, but I had to find out from you if y’all are feeling like this too?! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or drop me an email! I love hearing from you, and these times we’re living in are pretty strange. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Keep on keepin’ on!
I’m going to open this discussion up on the Facebook group too, so come on over and join in the chat! It’s THE place to meet like-minded childcare business owners, to keep up to date and in the loop about all things early education and daycare related, and to hang out!
And if you’d like to find out more about becoming a Childcare Ninja, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!