Daycare Contracts: What Should Be Covered?

A strong relationship between parents and their childcare provider is based upon two factors: trust, and a strong contract. While it may seem like an unnecessary bit of added paperwork, a daycare contract can actually help to stave off disputes by providing all involved parties with a clear image of their rights and responsibilities. It’s not always easy to know what should be included, especially when a provider is creating their first batch of daycare contracts. While there will always be circumstances unique to each provider’s business model, there are some pieces of information which should typically be covered in any daycare contracts and written agreements.

Contact Information and Authorized Pick-Up

Daycare contracts should include not only relevant contact information for the child and family, but also an emergency contact person in case parents can’t be reached in the event of an urgent situation. This is also the area where people authorized to pick up the child should be listed.

Payment Information

Rates and fees can be one of the more common sources of dispute, making it one of the most crucially important aspects of any daycare contract. A breakdown of weekly rates, along with any applicable sibling discounts and additional fees should be included in this section. Any late pick-up charges or late payment fees should be clearly outlined, along with clarification regarding holiday fees if the facility will be closed on national holidays. Due dates for fees, a notification period for withdrawal from care should also be clearly explained. If policies include a trial period before enrollment, this is where information about the trial period should be shared.

Hours of operation, along with acceptable pick-up and drop-off times, are also included in this section. Emergency procedures, provisions for inclement weather and major disasters are relevant information for this section, along with documentation procedures for injuries and accidents.

Rules and Procedural Guidelines

In order to comply with facility rules and operational guidelines, this information must be clearly communicated. Daycare contracts should include labeling requirements for outside food and drink, toys from home, and typical scheduling.

Your definition of a “sick” child, including temperature and other physical symptoms, should be featured in the rules and policy section. Expectations regarding when a child should not be brought into the facility, along with “sick child” policies should be clearly explained. Notification procedures regarding exposure to contagious diseases from both parents and providers and guidelines governing when medication should be administered are also wise additions.

Clothing and Supplies

Any supplies that parents are required to supply, including diapers, extra clothing and pillows or blankets, should be documented in daycare contracts. Policies on toys brought from home, transitional objects should also be covered, especially if they’re not allowed.

Damages and Liability

If parents will be expected to reimburse the daycare provider for any malicious damages to equipment or property as a direct result of their child’s actions, it should be explicitly stated in daycare contracts. This section may also include a clear absolution of liability for personal belongings and effects which become damaged or ruined.

Disciplinary Methods

To ensure parents are in full agreement with the disciplinary methods employed by the childcare provider, it’s wise to include these guidelines in a daycare contracts. This significantly reduces the risk of disputes resulting from miscommunication or misunderstanding. If a time-out system will be used, for instance, this section is where the prescribed duration should be listed. Any reporting methods for misbehavior or documentation policies should also be outlined.


Some policies and responsibilities, especially those unique to a particular establishment, may not rationally fit within any other section. The inclusion of a “miscellaneous” section provides an ideal solution to this challenge. Any applicable visiting hour policies, naptime rules, or other important information can be included in this section.

Signed and dated copies of daycare contracts provide a source of reference for both parents and providers in the event of a dispute. Periodic conferences may include a review of contract terms, along with any additions or revisions, which should, of course, always be provided in writing and acknowledged with a dated signature from parents.

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