Recent Questions and Answers About the Business of Family Child Care

Here are some recent questions I’ve received from family child care providers, and my answers.


“I am going thru a divorce and my husband’s lawyer is requesting a copy of my contracts. I only have the parents names and child names listed along with the weekly payment. Should I give them to him? Why can’t they use my tax returns? He is threatening to take the parents to court if I don’t provide the contracts. Help!”


You are not required to give any information to the lawyer. You should never give out the names of parents or children without the written permission of the parents. You could give them a copy of your contracts with the names of parents and children blacked out. Your husband’s lawyer wants to know how much you made. Your tax return should give him everything he needs. I would ignore his threat.


“I have a parent giving me a large outside play climber, worth a few hundred dollars, and she has asked if I give a donation slip so she can use it on her taxes. How do I handle this request?”


You can give parents a receipt for their gift, but they can’t deduct it on their taxes because you are not a non-profit, tax exempt charity.


“Can I claim mileage if I drive my boyfriend’s vehicle and we are not married?”


No. Since you are not married you can’t claim car expenses for a vehicle you don’t own. But, if you were married you could deduct mileage for on husband’s vehicle, even if your name is not on the title of the vehicle.


“I have a parent who is constantly asking me to help her children change into their soccer, dance uniforms, etc. This parents always arrives late and gets upset with me when her children are not ready for their activity when she picks them up. I feel this isn’t my responsibility because I have 6-7 other children to care for and also, these are activities outside of my daycare. Do you have any advice or suggestions on how to handle this situation?”


It’s your choice as to handle this situation. You can say, “I’m sorry but I can’t help your children into their uniforms. You will have to take responsibility for this.” Or you can say, “I’ll try to help your children get into their uniforms, but I can’t promise anything.” Or, “I will get your children into their uniforms, but because of the extra work this involves, I’ll have to raise your rates by $_____ per week.” And so on.

You should not apologize for any choice you make. If the parent is upset, don’t take it personally. If you make it clear to her what you will and won’t do, that should help resolve the matter. If she continues to complain, charge her a “complaining fee.” Or tell her that if she continues to complain you will have to terminate your contract with her.


“I care for children 24 hours a day, five days a week, but I’m nervous about claiming all of these hours in the calculation of my Time-Space %. I’m sleeping some of the time the children are here. Should I count all of these hours?”


I’ve helped two providers who were audited who cared for children 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their cases went to Tax Court. The only issue was whether they could prove that they did have children in their home for 24 hours a day. Based on contracts, attendance records, parent letters and CACFP records, one provider won a 98% Time-Space % and the other provider won 94%. So, as long as the child is in your home (whether sleeping or not) you can count these hours towards your Time-Space%. With proper records, I wouldn’t hesitate to claim all the hours children are present, even if it’s 24 hours in a day.

I’m always happy to answer questions! I don’t charge a fee for this. Send me an email at

Tom Copeland –

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Categories: Car Expenses, Contracts & Policies, Legal, Legal & Insurance, Record Keeping & Taxes, Time-Space Percentage

2 replies

  1. Hello Tom,

    I am installing cameras in the common and the exterior areas as an additional tool to monitor the happenings in my daycare. The monitors will be in a place that will allow staff to view who is at the front door and in the home for instance. The cameras mainly serves the purpose of keeping a watchful eye on the daycare and not for the parents viewing pleasure. The cameras does not have the capabilities to allow parents to view their children via the internet. However, I have a concern regarding setting up a video surveillance policy for parents. I know that I will
    disclose that information in my parent handbook and post on the premises. I need help in determing what restrictions or access should I have for parents to view in place

    Thanks for any advice you can give!

    • I would tell parents you have the cameras but say that they cannot view any video unless you give permission. Don’t clarify when you might give permission. In general you don’t want parents to think they can look at the video for any reason except for an extraordinary circumstance.

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