Outlining Expectations: Creating Child Care Policies and Procedures

Developing a clear set of policies and procedures can help you efficiently manage your business

Running a child care business involves a lot more than story time and snacks. Taking care of children comes with a lot of different variables, requires consistency and organization, and carries a wide range of responsibilities. Creating policies and procedures for your child care business can save time, manage expectations, and highlight your professionalism to both existing and potential clients.

Putting your policies and procedures in writing reduces confusion, conflict, and misunderstandings and gives you and your staff a firm plan for managing various scenarios. Policies and procedures help answer questions before they need to be asked.


Policies cover the what, when, and why of potential issues and relate to actions and situations. When creating policies, consider the following:

  • What health, licensing, or local ordinance regulations need to be followed at all times?
  • What is the philosophy, mission, or objective of your child care business?
  • What decisions are important to you, your staff, and the families of the children in your care?

Answering those three questions is a good starting point for creating meaningful policies.


Procedures answer the how who, and where of any questions and outline the process and responsibility for carrying out policies on a day-to-day basis. Procedures should address the following:

  • Who is responsible for handling a situation?
  • Which steps or methods will be followed?
  • Which records must be kept and by whom?

A comprehensive list of procedures will cover both daily occurrences and rare events and will ensure that legal obligations are appropriately met.

The most important consideration when developing policies and procedures involves your confidence in and commitment to enforcing them. It’s imperative that families and staff understand that these guidelines for how your business will be operated are not optional.

Every child care business is different, which is why you must write policies and procedures that fit your vision, preferences, and ability to follow through. Decide what works best for you, and create a plan from there.

Use the following list to brainstorm relevant issues that should possibly be included:

  • Pickup and drop-off
  • Illness
  • Communication
  • Snacks and meals
  • Confidentiality
  • Behavioral issues
  • Medications
  • Curriculum
  • Parent involvement or visits
  • Volunteering
  • Daily activities and schedule
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Parent-provider conferences
  • Discipline
  • Pets
  • Enrollment
  • Reporting abuse or neglect
  • Fees
  • Termination
  • Field trips
  • Toys from home
  • Holiday schedule
  • Transportation
  • Risk management

The above list is just a starting point and is not all-inclusive. Use those topics to consider all related issues that may need to be addressed by your business.


Making sure your policies and procedures are clearly conveyed and widely understood is essential to their successful implementation. The best way to achieve that may be to write a parent handbook for parents to review and reference as needed. A parent handbook is more than just a list of rules; it serves as a guide to the way you run your business and can be shared with prospective and existing clients.

The parent handbook can contain information such as the following:

  • A description of your program, philosophy, goals, and objectives
  • A welcome letter introducing you and your business to families
  • Enrollment requirements
  • Policies and procedures
  • Copies of your annual calendar, daily schedule, and additional information

Clearly outlining your expectations and intentions is the best way to avoid confusion. Creating a policy and procedures guide to outline your professional practices will help your business as well as the families that depend on your wisdom and care.

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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