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Tom Copeland
St. Paul, Minnesota
Writer, trainer, advocate on the business of family child care
Interests: reading, Mark Twain
Recent Activity
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It's not unusual for a parent to want to end their contract with a family child care provider. It's not as common for a family child care provider to want to do the same. Are there any rules you must follow if you want to terminate your contract with a... Continue reading
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Family child care providers are generous people. Is there a tax benefit for being generous? More specifically, can you deduct as a business expense money or items you donate to your local hospital, softball team, high school, Salvation Army, church, etc.? It depends. If giving money or items promotes your... Continue reading
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Most family child care providers who hire employees do so primarily because they can expand their program and care for more children. But, there are a number of costs and benefits that should be considered before taking this step. First, let’s look at the benefits: Increased quality of care that... Continue reading
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With the beginning of summer record keeping is probably the last thing on your mind. But, the end of June is a good time for a six-month review of your business records. Maybe you are doing a pretty good job of saving your receipts. But, unless you are paying close... Continue reading
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This Wednesday, June 24th is the deadline to receive a $45 discount to attend the 2015 annual conference of the National Association for Family Child Care to be held July 15-18th in Bloomington, Minnesota. Use discount code "TWC" to receive this discount. Register here. I'll be giving two pre-conference sessions... Continue reading
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According to a recent survey of family child care providers in New York City: * They don't perceive themselves as business owners * Their tax returns are not filed properly, even when they use tax preparers * More than half do not have business liability insurance * Many want to... Continue reading
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Family child care providers face a widespread problem across the country: they care for subsidized parents but don't get fully paid for their work. I hear this everywhere I travel. * Providers enroll families applying for subsidy payments, who are later declared ineligible, and the provider doesn't get paid. *... Continue reading
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For family child care providers, summertime means being frequently outside with children. Here are some possible outdoor business deductions: Children's toys: baseball, basketball, soccer ball, Frisbee, skateboard, tricycles, bicycles, wagon, bike helmet, jump rope, riding toys, roller skates, scooters Children's activities: admission charges for museum/zoo/recreation center/swimming pool, camera/film/development, burn spray... Continue reading
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I got a call this week from a family child care provider who announced to her parents on June 1st that she will be closing down at the end of the day on June 19th. Each parent had paid a two-week "deposit" to initially hold the spot for the child... Continue reading
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Have you ever been asked to give references by parents looking for a family child care provider? It's not that common for parents to ask providers for references before making a decision to enroll their child, but it does happen. What's the purpose of references? Why would a parent ask... Continue reading
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When a prospective client calls your family child care home you want to keep a record of their call so you can follow up later. I suggest you create a form that allows you to gather the parent's contact information and more. Here's a sample Parent Call Tracking Form that... Continue reading
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True or False? 1) If you pay someone less than $600 in a year to help you care for children, this person can be treated as an independent contractor. 2) If you hire your spouse to help you care for children you don't have to withhold Social Security/Medicare taxes. 3)... Continue reading
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Family child care providers spend a lot of time cleaning their home. You clean each morning before the children arrive and clean each evening after the children leave. You probably also clean during some evenings and on most weekends. Keeping careful track of all of these hours will help you... Continue reading
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June 15th is the deadline for family child care providers to file your federal estimated tax payment for the second quarter of 2015. The second quarter includes the months of April and May. (Yes, the tax quarters for estimated taxes are not equal!) The third quarter includes the months of... Continue reading
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Have you found yourself in any of these situations? * You wonder if your contract and policies are legally enforceable * You receive a letter from your child care licensor who wants to take away your license * Your Food Program sponsor threatens to issue you a serious deficiency notice... Continue reading
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Parents picking up their children late is a common problem for family child care providers. Your pick-up time is 6pm and a parent shows up late several times a month. Another parent always arrives before 6pm, but often doesn't leave your home until 6:20pm. You work long hours caring for... Continue reading
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May 29th is the deadline for the early bird discount to attend the 2015 annual conference of the National Association for Family Child Care to be held July 15-18th in Bloomington, Minnesota. Register here. I'll be giving two pre conference sessions on Wednesday, July 15th. The first will be on... Continue reading
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Summer is a time for vacations, family outings, and personal activities such as gardening, reading, and just plain rest. For many family child care providers, summer is a time to reduce their hours of operation. Taking some time off in the summer may be a personal choice, or it may... Continue reading
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It happens. A parent pays you by check and it bounces. Here's how you can handle this situation: Put in your contract that parents must pay a "returned check" fee. The fee should include the amount the bank charges your account, plus an additional fee ($10-$25?) for the hassle it... Continue reading
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Probably not. Family child care providers are often looking for ways to avoid hiring employees in their business. They want the advantages of having another person working with them, without the expense and paperwork of following federal and state payroll tax rules. Here's the solution some providers have adopted: Two... Continue reading
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"Why should I bring my child to your family child care program?" "What does your program offer that others don't?" These are the two key questions parents think about in their search for a child care provider. Your ability to answer these questions will have a lot to do with... Continue reading
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When you or your spouse operate more than one business out of your home you must follow special rules when claiming house-related expenses. The rules for claiming house expenses are different for every other business besides family child care. To be able to count a room as used for business... Continue reading
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Let me add my voice to many others in wishing all family child care providers happy Provider Appreciation Day! Started in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, Provider Appreciation Day is appropriately celebrated each year the Friday before Mother's Day. The founding organizers saw the need to... Continue reading
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Whenever you teach a child something, you also learn a lot about the subject yourself. So, one way to learn more about money and saving is to help your own children learn about money. The younger your children are, the easier it will be for them to accept what you... Continue reading
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It's an unfortunate fact that many family child care providers are not saving enough money for their retirement, even though Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) have been around for a long time. Although there are significant tax advantages to contributing to an IRA (See my article "The Magic of an IRA"... Continue reading