Helping Hands: How to Hire Employees for Your Family Child Care Business

Learn how to identify and hire qualified candidates to help with your family child care program

The key to any successful business is recruiting the right support to help the business grow, and a family child care program is no different. Finding employees who contribute to creating a safe, nurturing environment can allow you to reach your goals as a business person, a caregiver, and an individual.

Families rely on your judgment and invest a lot of trust in choosing you as a care provider. Identifying and employing qualified candidates who are warmhearted and reliable allows you to improve the quality of care through reduced staff-to-child ratios and the potential for more in-depth learning. Having an employee or substitute also allows you flexibility in case you have an absence, illness, or planned a vacation during normal business hours.

Finding good help

It’s important to recognize the distinctions between an assistant and a substitute. An assistant is a hired employee of your child care program, regardless of the number of hours worked. Substitutes are also considered employees unless they work as independent contractors. Being an independent contractor requires the substitute to have their own registered business name, taxpayer identification number, and contracts to serve as a substitute for more than one family child care provider per year.

In a licensed family day home, a substitute must meet the same qualifications as a regular provider and cannot work for one program more than 240 hours per the calendar year. Substitutes must create and maintain a signed log of arrival and departure times.

An assistant is generally there only when you are present and helps facilitate activities.

Before you hire an employee, you should do the following:

  • Research federal and state regulations regarding employees on topics such as withholding taxes or purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. Educate yourself using resources such as the Internal Revenue Service; the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, if you’re located in the state of Virginia; or a local employment attorney to make sure you’re proceeding appropriately.
  • Check with your insurance agent to see if additional coverage is needed or if your policy covers liability related to possible child abuse, neglect, or any other potential legal issues.
  • Perform a thorough background check – this should involve more than a brief internet search. Also, make sure the employee has all appropriate vaccines and signs a sworn disclosure before the start date.
  • Call all provided references, to ask about their history with the applicant, about what makes the applicant a good fit for the job, and about the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. Verify the information on the potential employee’s résumé.
  • Complete any relevant state licensing paperwork requirements for employees or substitutes.
  • Check zoning laws to see if there are regulations regarding hiring employees.
  • Create an employee handbook that outlines expectations; job responsibilities; licensing regulations; your program’s philosophy, objective, and goals; and state child abuse and neglect mandatory reporting laws.

After you hire an employee, you should do the following:

  • Make sure that all employees complete first aid and CPR training before they’re responsible for children.
  • Ask your employees to review your health, safety, and emergency procedures as well as any literature you provide to families about how the program is managed.
  • Provide training on appropriate discipline, the daily schedules and routines, program policies, and job responsibilities.
  • Discuss policies regarding privacy and confidentiality related to children and families and any guidelines you have about social media or photography.
  • Inform employees about upcoming training or other activities that may help them with continuing education and professional development.
  • Supervise employees, and conduct regular staff meetings and employee evaluations.

Employees and substitutes can serve as valuable assets to your family child care program. Having warmhearted adults serve as quality caregivers allow you to add more stability, consistency, safety, and depth to your caregiving services. Identify qualified candidates, and take the time to make sure you have screened and trained them carefully to support the growth and ongoing success of your child care business.

The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.

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