Category Archives: Advocacy

San Diego Childcare Provider Disaster Plan and Guide

Ready San Diego Disaster Plan & Guide for Child Care Providers

In followup to yesterday’s post, Practicing For An Emergency. Are There Holes In Your Plans?  we’d like to direct you to another good source.  The County of San Diego has published a thorough planning guide specifically for child care providers.  Just go to and download the 12-page guide.

Child Care Disaster Planning Guide for San Diego


Practicing For An Emergency. Are There Holes In Your Plans?

*Practice Makes Perfect* and *Expect The Unexpected*

It’s true.  From playing the piano to changing a tire… there is usually a direct correlation between how often you do a task, and how well you do it.  Rehearsal.  Practice.  (I’m also convinced that is what adds to the angst taxpayers feel when April 15 comes around.  It is something most only do once a year, so it’s understandable to think, “am I doing this right?” which is why you should always use a professional tax preparer- just to be sure.)  The more often you do something, the greater the ease and confidence.

Child Care Tax Specialists

The same applies to children and your current level of preparedness for an emergency.  How often do you set aside time to rehearse the orderly steps and actions these children will need to take in an emergency when they are in your care? You want it to become automatic for them.  The weather and life-changing events that are taking place in the world make planning for emergencies a must.

Engage children by asking them to share what their “home plan” is like (in a child’s words).   If a child says they don’t know – or don’t have one … it would be a great opportunity to include the parents in the exercise.  Help them put a family plan together.  Tell them what your *plans* consist of so they will know what to do or where to go to get their children.

Recently we wrote about the FEMA children’s disaster preparedness handbook – and encourage anyone who works with children to get it – and share its information.  The workbook covers pets, and other things that are important to a child that a parent might not consider and not include. Ask a child to identify the one thing that they would want to have with them if they had to leave in an emergency.  Make note of it.  

The FEMA handbook is done in black and white glossy, and they encourage copies to be made.  If you have a copy of the handbook to give parents who haven’t made up a family emergency plan – there is a greater likelihood they will use it.

If an emergency were to take place on a field trip – TOMORROW – do  you and your children have a plan? Do the children know exactly what they need to do if accidentally separated?  Do you select a single – DISTINGUISHABLE – location and call it “home base” ? Do your parents know how you would handle an emergency situation if you were on a field trip?

When I was child, we rehearsed emergency exiting off school buses.  Row by row.  We learned how to kick out windows, how to help others that are injured.  We rehearsed it over and over again until graduation.  Why?  Because it saves lives. The workbook gives you different scenarios; earthquakes, fire, floods, tornadoes … and creative ways to educate the children in your care so they know what to do, and are less likely to panic. They get a sense of order and control in a scary situation. 

Also, *rehearse* at different times and days. Alternate morning and afternoon.  It will increase their retention because it is unexpected.  It will also let you know if there are any holes in  your plans.




Ready… Set… Prepare! Disaster Activity Book For Children

Ready...Set...Prepare! FEMA Disaster Preparedness Activity BookReady… Set… Prepare! Disaster Activity Book For Children

Activity Book That Teaches Children Gently…

We came across this book, Ready… Set… Prepare! Disaster Activity Book For Children that is published by FEMA and can serve as a wonderful aid for educating our small children about emergency situations they’ll need to learn… young.

It is a 36 page glossy paper book that delivers the “need to know” lessons as gently as possible.

They start with words and their meaning: Aftershock, Authorities, Dangerous, Disaster, Emergency and so on.

There are B&W templates that you can cut out and copy, such as  “My Family Communication Plan”, “Taking Care of Pets” and a “clue” game that gives a scenario and asks “what is this called” or asks what other actions should the child take if they are in a situation.

To find out more about this publication, you can send an email to: or call 1-800-480-2520.

Other sites for information:
FEMA for Kids
Are You Ready?  www.fema/gov/areyouready
American Red Cross




Promoting Home Childcare Business – Tips and Strategies #1

Baby Only Facing Right5 Ways to Promote Your Home Childcare Business

Child Care Tax Specialists isn’t just about taxes We write about, and share, best practices for the business owner to help them tackle their administrative tasks that they make time for every day, every week, every month.  We aren’t seasonal.  We work with our child care clients throughout the year, including our bi-annual YMCA Tax & Recordkeeping Seminars and Audit Workshops.

In this series, we will share some of the best “how to’s” out there beginning with this article by Rachel Carpenter.

Did you just recently start a home child care business? Do you have several openings to fill? Are you looking for places on where to advertise your child care services? Here are a few advertising options to consider.

Where to Advertise a Home Day Care Tip #1: Advertise Through Friends (Word-of-Mouth)    One of the cheapest ways to get the news out about your business is through word-of-mouth. Tell your friends that you are starting a home child care business and that you have openings. Your friend will then pass the information along to anyone they know that needs child care.

Do you have Facebook, MySpace or Twitter? Make a status update or tweet saying “I’ve started a home child care business! I’m exciting about caring for children and helping families. If you know of anyone needing child care, please refer me!” You might also tell your friends through e-mail, or just give them a call to let them know. You might also share with your friends at church, your neighbors and any groups that you are part of.

This advertising method is perhaps one of the most effective ways to advertise because it comes with a reference. If people know that you are a reputable, caring person, they are more likely to consider your services.

Where to Advertise a Home Day Care Tip #2: Advertise Online

The next inexpensive way to advertise your home day care is online. You might start with the website Search for a local online mom’s group in your area. Join the group and introduce yourself, and share the news about your business. Some Cafemom groups will have a section just for advertising, and you can advertise there.

You might also advertise on in the “child care” section. Additionally, you can also check to see if there is a local Facebook group for moms, and you might mention there. Do not spam people on Cafemom or Facebook, as that it will only hurt your business.

Where to Advertise a Home Day Care Tip #3: Advertise Through Flyers

A third low-cost way to advertise your child care business is through Flyers. Create eye-catching, adorable fliers. Be sure that they are professional looking. (Don’t just write a hand-written note saying “Home Day Center Has Openings. Call XXX”) Be sure to include your qualifications, if you are CPR and First Aid Certified, and that you have references available. It is best to make the flyers colorful, if possible.

Post these fliers wherever parents might go. Try putting them in grocery stores, gyms, coffee shops, college and other locations that have bulletin boards available. You might also try to advertise in teacher’s lounges at local schools – it doesn’t hurt to stop by the school and ask. You can also try placing the flyers in child-related businesses such as clothing stores, dance studios, etc.

Where to Advertise a Home Day Care Tip #4: Advertise in Newspapers

If none of the options above work, remember you can always advertise in local newspapers. If there is a Thrifty Nickel in your area, try advertising there. You might also try running a classified ad in a local family magazine or community newspaper. And, don’t forget you can advertise in your town or city’s newspaper as well. Be sure to have references available for anyone who calls.

Where to Advertise a Home Day Care Tip #5: Advertise at Local Community Health Fairs    A fifth option is to rent a booth at a local community health fair. This is a great way to meet parents in person and promote your business. Be sure to have business card and flyers handy to share with prospective clients. And, of course, have a list of references available for anyone who asks. It doesn’t hurt to have resume handy as well.

These are just five ways to promote your home childcare business! As home day centers are in demand in most areas, you should have several children to care for in no time at all. Good Luck and Happy Working!

Free Childcare Forms Promote Best Practices

Practicing good communications includes good forms!

During our last seminar series for the YMCA Childcare Resource Services, our attendees expressed an interest in best practices and tools.  We always reference Tom Copeland as an excellent source of information, and we are pleased to turn you on to another valuable site that has free forms that you can easily download and customize for your childcare business.

To begin, how would you rate your communication skills?  We know you have to be effective working and caring for children – but how about communicating with the parents?  Do you routinely sit and talk with the parents?  Do you have a printed handbook that discusses your business policies, rules, and other practices?

ccl-logoThe Child Care Lounge  has all the materials to help you assemble a professional handbook with the type of information exclusively for childcare providers.

First you will see Printable Contracts, and they include:

Then scroll down to the Printable Parent Letters and Forms.  There you will find, in PDF and word format:

And then on to Progress Reports, Employee Forms, Promotional Signs, etc.

Remember this – when you have a *handbook* you are communicating how you conduct and handle your business.  Your clients will value your professionalism and attention to detail.  You and your employees will benefit by establishing levels of expectation in performance and practices.  Think of it as a foundation.  Don’t forget to check out our Checklists, Mileage Logs and other forms .

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For more than 30 years R. Patrick Michael has been preparing tax returns for individuals, small businesses, cottage industries and in-home child care providers. Pat is a recognized child care provider tax expert, and has been providing educational seminars for child care providers in San Diego County for the YMCA Child Resource Services for more than 18 years.  Pat and his team have built a following that is comprised of long-term clients, new relationships and word-of-mouth referrals. Child Care Tax Specialists take care of their clients year-round with tax preparation, business entity creation and support, as well as tax planning for retirement, and estate planning.

NEED HELP?  CALL (619) 589-8680 TODAY!




May I Refuse to Care for a Child Who is Not Immunized?

A parent who wants to enroll in your family child care program tells you she refuses to immunize her child. What do you do?

The following Tom Copeland article covers all the variables that you need to take into consideration.  As he said, “The answer is not simple”, and it’s not!  As a general rule, you can exclude any child you want from your program – UNLESS …

Your response needs to take into consideration your state health laws, your state child care licensing rules and anti-discrimination laws.

Immunization of preschool children will help them from contracting and spreading vaccine-preventable disease. These diseases include polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus, influenzae, hepatitis, pneumococcal, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella.

Obviously your concern is the health and safety of the child admitted into your program as well as the other children already in your program. Accepting a non-immunized child puts this at risk.

Most states (through health or child care regulations) require the administration of immunizations to combat these diseases.

Does this mean you can refuse to accept a child who is not immunized?


As a general rule you can exclude children from your program for any reason, unless you are unlawfully discriminating based on a protected class: race, sex, religion, disability, or national orgin. A non immunized child is not a protected class.

All states allow parents to be exempted from the requirement that their child be immunized if their refusal is based on medical reasons.

All states, except Mississippi and West Virginia allow religious exemptions.

Twenty states allow an exemption for philosophical reasons: Arizon, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

These exemptions mean that parents don’t have to immunize their child under certain conditions, but this does not mean you have to accept nonimmunized children into your program. Under federal law you can refuse to provide care for children based on the fact that they are not immunized.

Increasingly parents are refusing to immunize their children because of religious objections. If this happens, do not challenge the parent’s religious beliefs or their sincerity. Questioning their motives is likely to create more trouble.

What if a parent argues that you are discriminating against her religion if you refuse to provide care for her child because of the parent’s religious objection to immunization? Religious discrimination is a protected class.

The answer is not simple. It can vary depending on the state you are in. Because of the health risks involved, I recommend asking your licensor for advice. If they tell you that you must accept the child, ask for a copy of the law or rule they are citing as authority for their position. If necessary, ask you state licensing office for guidance.

Dealing with this issue can be difficult. Parents in your program may want to know if other children are not immunized. You should not share this information because you want to protect the privacy of all families.

If you do decide to accept children into your program who are not immunized, I recommend getting these parents to sign a statement indicating their reasons for not immunizing their children. Your licensor or state may have a particular form to use in this situation.

Immunization Notice

You can educate parents about the importance of immunizations and create an immunization notice for all families when they enroll in your program. This notice should:

* Describe the importance and benefits of immunization.

* Explain to parents who choose not to immunize their children the potential consequences of this decision, including contracting a disease, transmitting it to others, and being quanantined if there is an outbreak.

* State that there may be immunized, underimmunized, or nonimmunized children in your program, and because of confidentiality rules you will not be able to provide any information about the immunization status of the other children in your program.

* Inform parents that exposing their children to others who aren’t immunized may increase their risk of contracting disease.

This is an issue where you should also seek guidance from your licensor or your state department of health. If they say you must enroll their child, follow their direction. In some states they will have a form for parents to fill out indicating their objections to immunization.

Can you be sued by a parent if their child contracts a disease in your program from an unimmunized child? You can always be sued, but the chances of winning are remote, particularly if they have received an immunization notice from you. Check with your business liability insurance agent to see if your policy covers you against such a lawsuit.

Tom Copeland –

Child Care Advocacy and Policymakers

Congress will be back in session September 9. Some members take recess as an opportunity to re-engage with their community and the constituents they serve. But how well do you connect with your representatives the other months of the year.    Foster and cultivate those important relationships with your Senators and Representative, as well as their key staff so that when they are in town, on the next recess, you can continue the conversation, in person.  Print out these basic suggestions and  keep handy for the next time Congress goes on recess.  You want them to know who you are and what issues you care about –early learning, child care, resource and referral services, etc., and how those issues are affecting your local community and your state.

CA Child Care Resource & Referral SnippetIn order to ensure you get the most out of your elected officials, here are 5 tips for  success:

1. Schedule a visit/meeting.  Go to our congressional directory to look up the contact information for your Member’s district office(s).  Call the office or send an email requesting a meeting, and be sure to briefly mention the purpose of the meeting.

2. Do your research before your meeting.  You can make the most of your meeting time by being prepared and knowing your audience.  Learn about your Member of Congress: is she/he a Democrat or a Republican? Is your Member on Facebook or Twitter? What committees is she/he on? Do those committees work on child care issues?  You should also know whether the Member supports an increased investment in child care and early learning (and has voted accordingly). Visit the Core Issues page to get background on the issues.

3. Invite your elected officials to your child care program. Reach out to district staff or ask during a meeting with staff or your Member if they would like to visit your child care program: if you’re representing a child care resource and referral agency, you may have a recommendation of a place to visit. This is a great way for Members to connect what you do with what children need, and why investments in child care and early learning programs are so important. Members and their staff get a firsthand look at why quality child care is a necessity for any thriving community.

4. Attend scheduled town halls. Another great way to engage with your elected officials during recess is to attend a town hall meeting (or two!).  Check your policymaker’s website to find out the date and location of any upcoming town hall meetings. In preparation for the meeting, write down–at most–two questions: you will not have a lot of time so make sure your questions are specific and straight to the point.  Read our town hall tips sheet for more information.

5. Follow up. If you were able to get a meeting, attend a town hall, and/or host a Member at your early learning program, send a thank you note to your Member and their staff.  Thank them for taking the time out to meet with you/have the town hall meeting/visit your program, and gently remind them why they should continue to support child care. Be sure to follow up on any requests you made at the meeting as well as any information they may have asked for.  A few words of appreciation will have a lasting impact on your relationship with your elected officials and your long term advocacy efforts.