Contracts are legal binding documents that are necessary when two or more people are entering an agreement. It can be the difference between losing your business, being sued, and laying down the law. As a business owner, I am very keen and aware of my contracts and agreements and am sure to get it in writing so that I can Lay Down the Law.
Growing up my mother and father would say Get it in writing to just about anything. It is important that as any changes or amendments are documented and noted so that every party understand the terms of the agreement and contract. For my family child care home, when I first open I did not have as much laid out and detailed but when situations came up and had to be addressed, changes to the contract and handbook came next. This allowed me to stop problems in their tracks and be prepared.
Here are our Five Fast Facts to Creating a Contract:
Identify and State Each Party Correctly- When you are creating your handbook, it is important to spell your full school's name out in each place you are putting it and put your LLC, INC, or the business organization suffix that fits. For anything that pertains to the parents, you should use wordage that includes members that are not biologically or legally the child's parents, such as "Parents and Guardians". This will help keep the contract clear as to what pertains to who. This will also ensure that you are dealing with the right person. When there are changes in the guardianship a new contract should be completed.
Spell Out Every Detail- You want to make it clear what your policies are, expectations and obligations of each party, while also ensuring to make all interpretation clear. A contract is only a piece of paper and if you have to go to court the judge will only use the Four Corners of the paper and anything not clear they will make interpretation. Avoid being wordy but be very precise and clear with your wording while keeping it simple and to the point.
Specify Clear Payment Obligations- This can be done by adding a policy in your parent handbook but we encourage you to purchase our Payment and Tuition Agreement. This is a separate document that lays out very clearly our expectations for payment. This document should explain clearly who is to pay, whom the payments should be paid to, how payments are accepted, when payments should be paid, when payments are considered late, how much the late fee associated with late payments are, how to make payment if they want to withdraw or transfer, and what happens with unpaid tuition rates. We contract with a collection agency and make it clear in the agreement that the parent or family is responsible for any and all fees associated with the collection agency and lawyer fees.
Clear Termination Process- You want to make sure you are clear on important information, dates, and details and what happens if expectations are not met or obligations are not fulfilled. Termination of a contract is important to have laid out clearly because again it will be left open to interpretation in court. We encourage you to purchase our parent enrollment packet to get our Termination Policy so that you are able to lay out a clear guideline on termination and how payment works. You have to set terms of termination and what would be grounds for termination such as, Failure to pay, Routinely late picking up child, Failure to complete required forms, Lack of parental cooperation.
Follow All Florida Status and Administrative Codes- Florida and many other states have a list of documents or required forms that must be included in your enrollment packets and contracts. You should do your due diligence to make sure you have all the required forms and documents that the Department of Children and Families and the Early Learning Coalition requires. Our Enrollment Packet includes all these forms and will empower you to be ready to enroll without worrying about violations.
Contracts within the business world is normal but having an effective and equipped contract is something we all must strive for. Here is the list of documents that makes up our Child Enrollment Packet:
Media Release Form
Policy on Parents Transporting Their Children (DCF Required Document)
All About Me (DCF Designated Form)
Permission for Food-Related Activities & Special Occasion Food Consumption (DCF Designated Form)
Immunization Record Policy
Discipline Policy (DCF and ELC Required Document)
Expulsion Policy (DCF and ELC Required Document)
Rest Time Policy (DCF Required Document)
Shaken Baby Syndrome Policy (DCF Required Document)
Topical Ointment Authorization
Influenza Brochure (DCF Required and Designated Form) Needs to be done every August and September
Riley Wilson Form (DCF Required and Designated Form)
Getting In and Out Postcard (DCF Required and Designated Form)
Distracted Adult Brochure (DCF Required and Designated Form) Needs to be done every April and September
When is Sick Too Sick For School Handout
VPK Attendance and Tardiness Policy (ELC Required Document)
COVID19 Policy and Packet
Emergency Contact Card
Uniform Order Form
Join our Facebook Group: Child Care Boss Support and get most of these documents FREE or at a discount. Must be an active member to get this bonus gift!! Active Members are members that post, engage, answer others post, and join our weekly LIVES.
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