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Step 5: Make Care Work

Sign a Contract

Most programs have a written contract to explain their child care policies. Read these policies carefully before signing the contract and ask for a signed copy to keep.

Does the contract explain

  • deposit or registration fees
  • cost of care and payment due date
  • other fees (late fees, field trips, supplies)
  • days/hours your child will be enrolled
  • information on transportation, meals, discipline practices, emergencies, and sick child rules
  • procedures to end the contract by either you or the program

Important Items to Have Before Starting a Program

Give required information to the program, such as

  • your contact information (your phone number and address for home and work or school)
  • emergency contact information
  • contact information for your child’s dentist and doctor
  • medical information about any allergies your child may have or medications your child takes
  • a current immunization record

Get information from the program

  • phone numbers and address
  • tax ID number for filing returns or for flex plan

Supplies for your child, such as

  • diapers, wipes, formula, food as required by the program
  • a change of clothes
  • a small toy, blanket, or picture: something that is comforting to your child (check with the program first)

Help Your Child Feel Comfortable 

With a little planning, the transition to child care can be made easier. Here are a few ideas to help you prepare. Talk with your early childhood professional for additional tips, too.

  • Show that you feel comfortable with your choice. Even young children can sense when a parent is anxious. Be positive and confident about the child care program.
  • Spend time with your child at the child care site. If possible, plan several short visits in advance of your child’s official first day. On the first day allow extra time to get your child settled and comfortable.
  • Make drop off and pick up a happy time. If you build a familiar routine, your child knows what to expect when you leave and return. Allow enough time in the morning to reduce feeling rushed. A special good-bye routine can be reassuring to both of you. 

Monitor the Program

You are the best judge of whether a program is working for you and your child. As children grow, their needs change. Programs and enrollment may also change over time. It’s important to monitor and evaluate your choice of care regularly. All programs should allow a parent to visit at any time during program hours.

Ways to monitor:

  • Make unexpected visits during program hours.
  • Occasionally stay a little longer when you drop off or pick up your child. Observe activities and the interactions between the adults and children. Do children seem happy to be there?
  • Volunteer to help with special events or field trips.
  • Arrange a conference to talk about your child’s development. Ask what the program is doing to help your child reach developmental milestones.