Poems Specifically for Parents of
Children in Family Child Care

Daycare Providers Depend on Prompt Payment

Paying a day-care provider should not be the last thing parents want to do. Day-care providers provide a very needed service in exchange for what's usually a very nominal, but nonetheless a very needed, paycheck. Just not paying is something many parents feel they can get away with, in part because there often is no company to back up the provider, no strong-arm collection agency sending out threats.

Here are some fictions lots of parents live by that make the difficult job of child care even more difficult:

"My provider has no overhead, so she must be doing really well."
"My provider has a husband, so she really doesn't need her check until next week."
"People in business for themselves know that payments are helter-skelter."

Now let's turn this around and see if it fits.

You are informed by your boss:

"The office overhead is such that we are unable to pay you this week."
"You have a husband (or wife), so you really don't need your check until next week."
"This is a business that receives payments helter-skelter, so the employees can wait, too."

First fiction:

Overhead in daycare does exist. A food bill for a home of 10 children is generally around $150 a week, including milk. Cleaning is another expense. Replacement materials also consume a great deal of a provider's income.

Fiction two:

Most providers don't work for fun. They work to help, if not support, their homes. Regular paychecks are important.

Fiction three:

If payments are helter-skelter, then it's only fair that day-care hours be helter-skelter, too, and you won't mind being called in the middle of the day to retrieve your child. Any self-employed person knows that when clients get too far behind, they can't catch up. That's why the following suggestions are good business practices any child-care provider should use to remind parents that child-care payments are important:

-- Payment for child care should be made in full and on time, or there should be a late charge of 10 percent, a late fee or both. Late means setting a definite pay date and sticking to it.
-- Contracts between clients should state if daycare is tuition-based (every week the same payment whether the child-care space is used or not) or whether child care is an hourly matter. Hourly charges should be twice a tuition payment.
-- There should be a limit on how many missed weeks are allowed before the provider calls in the debt. Child care should be suspended until the debt is paid. Unpaid debts should be reported to a credit bureau. Parents should believe that the payment made to their child-care provider is one bill that's well-spent. If this is not the case, then parents should start looking again for other childcare. It only makes good sense ... child-care business sense.

~Judy Lyden

Don't Take Advantage

Care providers say they often feel taken advantage of by parents, especially when it involves pick-up times, paying for care or abiding by the sick-child policy.

"Consistent lateness is a problem because it's hard on the child who's waiting to be picked up," says Bain. "There have been many times when day-care children have joined my own family at the dinner table."

Family day-care providers are especially eager to have children picked up on schedule so they can spend time with their own family.

Bain says daycare can sometimes be hard on her kids because they often can't play with toys with small parts or have friends visit if the number of children in the house would exceed the state Office for Children's day-care regulations.

Sometimes, a simple phone call from parents to say they're running late can go a long way. "It also makes a big difference if parents apologize to the provider when they arrive. It makes them feel less taken for granted," says Tobin.

A bigger problem is parents who remember to bring the child, but not the provider's paycheck.

"I've had to ask a few parents repeatedly for payment. I can understand forgetting every once in a while, but it becomes frustrating when it turns into a habit," says Buck.

However, if the situation warrants it, providers often try to be flexible. "I had one parent who couldn't pay me right away because he had just lost his job. Under these circumstances, it's important for the provider to try and work with the parent," says Buck.

Another troubling issue is the abuse of the sick policy, which providers say is meant to protect them and the other children.

"Some parents know their child has a fever so they give Tylenol first thing in the morning. But by noon, the fever is back and I have to spend time tracking down the parent so the child can be picked up," says Bain.

"I know it's important for parents to be at work, but having a sick child in daycare poses a health risk for everyone else," she says. "I once had a child with cystic fibrosis and unnecessarily exposing him to any kind of illness was dangerous."

What Your Provider Wants You To Know: But is Afraid to Tell You

Here is an open letter to parents written from the perspective of a daycare provider or preschool teacher.

I am a professional. I may have chosen this line of work because I love children and I enjoy my job, but this is still my job/business. I have received specialized education and/or training to be a caregiver and educator for young children. I am not a babysitter; I am a professional.

I am not getting rich. In many places, child care workers make less than public sanitation workers, secretaries and other jobs that require a lot less education and experience. I do get paid in smiles, hugs, and recognition of appreciation from families.

I need you to read all the material and notices. I am counting on you to know the information I send to you in writing. This includes newsletters, notes, and contract material.

It is important that you communicate with me. Let me know in advance if there will be a change in your child's schedule or the services you will need.

If I ask you to bring in supplies for your child, please do. And make sure supplies are replenished as needed. This may include extra clothes, art supplies, diapers, etc.

Remember your child is not the only child in my care. Although I do my best to provide individualized attention at times, I am often unable to change policies or disrupt plans to accommodate the needs of one family.

Please do not send your child if they are ill. If they are too ill to participate in the days' activities they are too ill to be in care. I need to protect the health of other children as well. If your child is or was ill, please notify me.

I recognize that you are the most important person in a child's life. I hope that we can work as a partnership for what is best for the child. Please share with me any concerns or questions about your child's care and development. Work with me in helping your child learn, grow and develop.

by Joni Levine

10 Things You Should Expect From Your Child Care Provider

Whether your child is cared for by a babysitter in your home, a family day-care provider in her home or a number of people in a child-care center, you should be able to expect certain things.

1. Open communication. Providers should give you frequent and full updates on your child's progress and problems. They should welcome your questions and ask you questions about how they can help your child. If they let you know what is happening with your child during the day, you can develop ways to deal with problems and to build on activities and accomplishments of the day.

2. Open access to their home or center. Parents must be welcome to drop in any time, even without calling. Providers also should allow parents to make a reasonable number of phone calls to check on their children's well-being, in case of illness or if there's a special problem such as separation anxiety. You and the provider should work out the best times for such phone calls and determine how many calls are reasonable.

3. Safety for your child. Providers should take all possible precautions to keep children safe. This includes plugging light sockets, putting away knives and other sharp objects, closing off stairways and using only safe and well-maintained equipment, among other basic safety measures. It also includes always using child-safety seats and seat belts when transporting children in cars.

4. Honesty and confidence. Providers shouldn't make commitments that they can't or don't intend to keep. They shouldn't cover up problems or accidents that occur. They shouldn't expect parents to help them avoid income taxes by slipping them money on the side. They also shouldn't gossip about your child or your family to friends or coworkers.

5. Acceptance of parents' wishes. Providers should abide by parents' wishes on matters such as discipline, TV watching, food, adult smoking, and toilet training. If parents do not want their children spanked, providers should not spank them. If parents don't want anyone smoking around their child, the provider needs to see that no one smokes in the house when the child is present. If providers feel that they can't abide by parents' wishes, they need to tell parents before agreeing to care for the children and parents should look for other care.

6. Advance notice of any changes. Since it is often very difficult to find adequate care, providers should tell parents well in advance if they are going to change their hours or prices or if they are going to stop or limit the time of caring for a child. Parents need at least a month or, better yet, six weeks' notice if a provider is no longer going to care for a child. Except in the case of an emergency, parents should be given at least two weeks notice even if the provider won't be available for just one day.

7. No interference in the child's family or family problems. Providers shouldn't talk to children about their families' problems, lifestyle or values. Likewise, the provider should be careful not to take sides in any family disputes such as custody battles. Providers should not try to impose their religious or other beliefs on the children they care for. This includes not taking children to religious services unless asked to by the parents.

8. No advice offered unless asked for and no judging of parenting practices. Providers shouldn't criticize or advise parents on child rearing unless their advice is asked for by the parents. They shouldn't set themselves up as experts on parenting. If parents ask for advice, providers should offer it in a noncritical way. Of course, if providers see something that is seriously wrong with how parents are raising their children, such as if they fear child abuse or see a child apparently suffering from malnutrition, they should discuss the problem with the parents and, if needed, contact legal authorities.

9. Assurance that everyone in contact with the child is trustworthy and properly trained and supervised. Providers must be responsible for everyone who enters, visits and works at their home or center. This includes screening custodial help, not admitting strangers to the home, seeing that all transportation workers are properly trained and that all visitors, including friends or relatives of the provider, are trustworthy and supervised and will not harm the child.

10. No surprises. This means that your family day-care provider won't suddenly tell you that since she has taken a part-time job, her teenage daughter will watch your child three afternoons a week or that your child's favorite teacher at the center just disappears without warning or comment. Surprises are probably what parents fear the most from their child-care providers.

~author unknown

10 Things Your Child Care Provider Should Expect from You, the Parents

While expectations will differ somewhat, depending on whether your child is cared for in your home, in the home of a family day care provider or in a child care center, your provider or providers should be able to expect certain things from you.

1. Open communication. Explain clearly and carefully your wishes and expectations about how your child will be cared for. Also, provide updates on problems and progress that your child is making. Give the provider information about your child's routine, activities, and preferences. Good communication helps parents and providers work together in the best interest of children.

2. Agreement on terms or arrangements. You should fully understand the expectations of the provider and what you as a parent are agreeing to. A written agreement between the provider and parents is usually helpful for both parties.

3. Honesty and trust. This includes being honest about how you believe the arrangement is working, whether your child is happy with the provider and whether you are. Although you need to be vigilant in order to safeguard your child, you should still trust your child care provider to do the best for your child. Show your trust by asking questions rather than jumping to conclusions when apparent problems develop.

4. Advance notice of an agreement to any changes. Providers have to earn a living, too, so they deserve advance notice if you are going to stop using their services, take a vacation during which they will receive no pay or change their hours. If, for example, you want the provider to start feeding your child breakfast, this change should be made in the rate of pay. And, if you expect a month or six weeks' notice in case the provider can no longer care for your child, you owe the provider similar notice.

5. Pick up on time and follow through on all agreements. Providers have personal lives, too, and they should be able to expect that you will pick up your child at the agreed upon time. If it takes you 15 minutes a night longer to get home than you expected or if you find it more convenient to stop at the grocery store before picking up your child which makes you 30 minutes late three times a week you need to work out a new agreement with the provider or find a way to abide by the original one. If you agree to provide diapers, formula or other supplies, you should bring them before they are needed.

6. Not to send sick, hungry or overly tired kids. Agree with your child care provider in advance about when you can and cannot bring a sick child. Never bring a child whom you know is not feeling well enough to be away from home and family. Likewise, you shouldn't expect your child care provider to cope with a child who has not had breakfast or who went to bed four hours late last night.

7. Payment on time and no "rubber" checks. Child care providers have to pay the rent and buy food, too, so make arrangements to see that they get their pay on time.

8. Respect. Realize that taking care of children is a job and the child care provider is a worker, often a working parent, just as you are. Recognize also that this is not an easy job. A child care provider is not "just a baby sitter". She is one of the most important people in your child's life and in yours, too.

9. No jealousy. Try not to be jealous of your child's attachment to child care providers. Children who spend hours every day with a baby sitter or day care worker come to love that person. That love, though, doesn't diminish the love the child feels for you. Don't feel that you have to compete with your child care provider for your child's affection.

10. No surprises. Your baby sitter shouldn't learn on Friday that you have decided to take next week off from work so you won't need her or pay her, either. Your family day care provider shouldn't learn that you now expect her to pick up your kindergartner after school because the carpool you have been using has dissolved. Child care providers don't like surprises any better than parents do.

~author unknown

When Your Child Comes Home Messy

Red paint in the hair? Blue paint on the jeans? Sand in the shoes? Peanut butter on a favorite shirt? White socks that look brown? Sleeves a bit damp?


worked with a friend
solved a problem
created a masterpiece
negotiated a difference
learned a new skill
had a great time
developed new language skills


feel lonely
become bored
do repetitive tasks that are too babyish
do worksheets that are too easy
do sit down work that is discouraging


paid good money for those clothes
Will have trouble getting the red paint out
are concerned the caregiver isn't paying enough attention to your child


was aware of your child's special needs and interests
spent time planning a challenging activity for the children
encouraged the children to try new things
was worried you might be concerned

Young children really learn when they are actively involved in play.....not when someone is talking to them. There is a difference between "messy" and "lack of care." Your caregiver made sure your child was fed, warm, offered new skills and planned messy fun things to do because that's how young children learn!

Send your child in clothes that can get dirty! Keep extra old clothes at the site for times when the child gets really messy. But remember, young children need time to be kids.

~author unknown

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