Landing a child care job can feel like running a marathon. So much so that when you get to the point of landing a job, you just want to get working and start making money. For those who breeze through that phase, you might want to consider taking time to set up a child care agreement.
What’s a Child Care Agreement?
A child care agreement is a document that outlines the agreed-upon details of the relationship between a family and an in-home child care provider and is signed by both. This isn’t a required part of that hiring process, but most experienced child care professionals highly recommend it as it has benefits for both parties.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Child Care Agreement?
So if a child care contract isn’t a required thing, why would you go through all the work to create one?
Clarity of Expectations
Parents looking for child care help are sometimes so quick to look for help, that they either don’t fully think through what they would need that person to do or don’t fully communicate the details of how they’re imagining things will go. With an agreement, everyone is forced to think through everything that they might want to include before it’s finalized.
Support In Uncomfortable Conversations
Sometimes conversations about responsibilities, expectations, compensation, etc. can feel awkward to navigate. The agreement can serve as everyone’s guide as a conversation-starter. Plus, when you have to get details down on a page, you can’t avoid finding a resolution everyone is on board with.
From a bigger perspective, a child care agreement is a signifier of respect from both the parent and the care provider. The parent respects that this is the provider’s job and that they aren’t just at the parent’s beck-and-call for whatever they need. And the provider respects the importance of the job they’re being hired for. Caring for someone’s child is a significant responsibility and it’s not one they take lightly.
What’s In a Child Care Agreement?
The short answer is: whatever you both deem necessary! No two child care agreements are exactly the same, because no two family/care provider relationships are the same. Be sure to spend some time making a list of what’s important to you, so that when you and the parents discuss the details in the agreement, you’re ready with what will support you. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Dates, Times, & Schedules
There are a few different dates/times you might want to include:
- Start/End Date
- Work Schedule (days of the week and times)
- Minimum and Maximum of Weekly Working Hours
“Rates” being plural isn’t a typo. Yes, you have your typical hourly rate, but what about other situations that could come up?
- Last-Minute Coverage
- Weekends vs. Weekdays
- Nanny Share
- Expenses for Activities (Museums, supplies, etc.)
Life isn’t perfect, so make sure you know how you want to handle certain situations.
- You’re Running Late
- You’re Sick/Can’t Work
- Parent Arrives Home Late
Responsibilities & Expectations
What exactly is the job? What is it that both of you are agreeing that you’ll be responsible and compensated for?
- Planning Activities
- Meal Planning and/or Preparation
- Tidying/Cleaning Up After Kids/Family
- Homework Help/Tutoring
- Potty Training
Responsibilities aren’t everything. There are also certain expectations that could be helpful to outline together:
- How will disciplinary issues be handled with the children?
- How do the parents feel about you taking photos? Social media posts?
Check-Ins & Reviews
Regular check-ins and reviews are extremely helpful in any job. Make sure you’re both on the same page about the right format and cadence.
- What’s going on each day.
- Sharing info about emotional/behavioral issues.
- How well are you doing your job? Can you improve on anything?
- Do you need more support from the parents on something?
When something is just beginning, it’s not fun to talk about how it will end. But you’ll both be grateful later.
- Do you set an agreement termination so that the details can be renegotiated later?
- What happens if someone needs to back out of the agreement before it’s done?
- How much lead time is required for notification of termination?
- How will compensation look?
If you’re interested in having a child care contract for your next job, be ready with the types of details you’d like to see included. Once you both agree on everything written down, make two copies and have both of you sign each copy. That way, you both have a signed record to reference if needed.