This article covers what a small family child care provider must include in a contract with parents under the Maryland regulations known as COMAR Title 13A, Subtitle 15.
A small family child care is one:
- that is operated out of the provider’s house,
- where the provider cares for 1-8 children,
- where the provider is not related to all children in care, and
- where the provider provides care on a regular basis of 20 or more hours per month.
What does COMAR 13A.15 require for a small family child care agreement?
Maryland law requires that you must include the following matters in your written agreement: fee schedule, child discipline policy, presence of any pet animals, use of volunteers (if applicable), and sleeping arrangements (if overnight care is provided).
Read the Regulation: COMAR 13A.15.03.03
- Fee schedule: Includes how much time the child will be in your care and how much the parent will pay.
Note that prior approval must be obtained from the state before you can provide care regularly for more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period.
- Child discipline policy: Describes how you will discipline the children.
Your policy must be appropriate to the age, maturity, and physical condition of the child.
Read the Regulation: COMAR 13A.15.07.04
You may NOT:
- Subject a child to abuse, neglect, mental injury, or injurious treatment;
- Force a child to eat or drink;
- Punish a child for refusing to eat or drink;
- Withhold food or beverages as punishment;
- Deliberately inflict physical pain, including spanking, hitting, shaking, or any other means of physical discipline;
- Enforce acts which result in physical pain;
- Fail to attend to a child’s physical needs;
- Subject a child to verbal abuse intended to cause mental distress, such as shouting, cursing, shaming, or ridiculing;
- Use other inappropriate methods that create undue discomfort, including: washing a child’s mouth with soap, putting pepper or other spicy or distasteful items in a child’s mouth, requiring a child to stand on one foot, or tying a child to another object.
- Presence of any pet animals: This disclosure must be in your written agreement.
- Presence of any volunteers: A volunteer is any person 13 years or older, who is not enrolled as a child in care at the family child care home, and who works in the child care home without compensation. Volunteer does not mean an additional adult or a substitute.
Read the Regulation: COMAR 13A.15.01.02(B)(35)
- Sleeping arrangements: Must be detailed if you provide overnight care.
- You must provide clean linen and adequate individual sleeping furnishings that are comfortable, durable, safe, and appropriate for the ages of the children in care.
- Each room used for sleeping must have an emergency escape route floor plan posted obviously.
The following matters are not required for the agreement, but including them in the agreement may provide benefits to you and the parent(s).
- Use of substitutes: Maryland law requires you to notify the parents when a substitute provider will care for the children.
Note that the substitute may not present a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the children. Disclosure of the name and qualifications of potential substitutes in the agreement can help reduce concerns from parents.
Maryland law requires you to
- complete emergency and disaster planning training;
- alert any substitute to emergency evacuation procedures;
- prepare and maintain a written emergency and disaster plan.
- Including this in the agreement may help parents feel more comfortable leaving their child(ren) in your care, and more confident in an emergency.
- Maryland law requires you to