Category Archives: Child care and parents

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




Your Special Rule for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents

Baby Only Facing RightHow should you handle parents who are divorced or separated when it comes to providing receipts?

As a good practice, we advocate our child care providers issue receipts whenever they are paid.  Do you have to do this?  No, it just makes your record keeping easier.

The question here is when you have a child in your care, whose parents are separated or divorced, which parent do you give the receipt to?  The short answer : you only give a receipt to the person who actually paid you. Make it one of your business rules, and let parents know (and include in your program materials).

But what do you do if you find yourself in a situation where one of the parents comes to you and says they have been paying the other parent for your child care services… and they need the receipt to declare it.  Advise the parent that they will have to speak to the other parent because you only issue receipts to someone who has directly paid you and they will have to speak to the other parent if they are planning to claim a child care tax credit.

What happens if both parents, separated or divorced, have paid you.  If you have kept a register of who paid when, then add it up and give each parent a receipt for the amount they paid.  If you didn’t keep it separate, then, according to Tom Copeland, “give each of them the same receipt and mark “Duplicate” on each receipt”.

For more information about on this read Child and Dependent Care Expenses,

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 .

Horizontal Little Color Bar


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!




Are You Depreciating Your Household Items Correctly?

Depreciating  household items can represent a significant tax savings!

Tax Refund Ahead SignWe always meet with our new child care provider clients to check their past deductions because many times they have not properly depreciated the day-to-day materials, furniture, and household items they use in the daily operation of their business.

We want to know about these items – even if they were purchased before the business was started. These can result in considerable tax savings for you.

It’s true!  You are entitled to claim depreciation on household items that you purchased BEFORE your business was even started.  In fact, you should depreciate all the items based on the lower end of the purchase price (your tax preparer will guide you) or the of the item(s) when they were first used in your business.

The list can include: beds, linens, towels, tables, chairs, desks, refrigerator, freezer, washer/dryer … are you getting the picture.  Any of the items that you are using in support of your child care business is a legitimate deduction.  This includes little stuff too, like pictures on the wall, garden hose, tools (for use outside).

The IRS Child Care Provider Audit Technique Guide states, “For many providers, when they start their business many items that were personal use only are used in the business.  They are entitled to depreciate the business use portion of those assets.”


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!

Communicating Your Child Care Business Policies


Baby with Blue ShoesIt is your responsibility to communicate your policies in your business.  Clients will appreciate the information, and creates a basis of communication between you and the client.  It establishes how you conduct your business, and gives parents an “inside look” of what to expect in your performance.  It also lets them know what is expected of them. Continue reading


Does talking about rate increases with your client make you uncomfortable?

Child Care Tax SpecialistsYou’re not alone.  Many child care providers feel awkward talking about rates and fee increases with their clients.  However, just as many of your clients get annual reviews and increases in their job-related compensation, it isn’t unreasonable for you to need to adjust your rates if only to meet inflation.

If you prefer not to increase your rates across the board, maybe just one of your specialty services might be appropriate, such as infant care.  Those clients who rely on you to care for their infant, understand the demands are greater with infants, and are more likely to understand paying more for it.

So what is a reasonable increase?

I always stress in my Taxes & Recordkeeping Seminars for the San Diego Chapter of the YMCA Child Resource Services, that child care providers cannot discuss their rates with other child care providers.  It’s against the law.  If you need guidance in determining what is a fair rate based on your regional market, consult with Child Resource Services in your area.  In San Diego, you would contact Child Resource Services, YMCA of San Diego County.

You will want to consider how often you should raise your rates.  Best practices says to not raise them more than once a year, but refrain from locking yourself into that by not putting any rate limiting information in a contract.  Things change, and you want to stay as flexible as possible.

Ten Things The IRS Needs To Know About Your Child or Dependent Care.


IRS Tax Tip 2011-46,  Last Reviewed or Updated: 04-Sep-2013  

If you paid someone to care for your child, spouse, or dependent last year, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Continue reading



Single-parent families or households where both parents work need quality daycare services, and providing these services can be a profitable venture. When you start making income, the IRS will be there to take its share of what you earn. Some careful planning can lessen the tax bite and allow you to keep more of your profits. Continue reading

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 –