Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Staff Handbook

Clear staff policies and handbooks provide information that helps staff members understand expectations and stay informed. Consider the following scenario:

Mariela was applying for a position as a lead teacher at Brighter Days Child Care Center. When she arrived for her interview, she was greeted by the Director, Julie. Mariela had many questions:

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the lead teacher?
  • Will I be eligible for benefits?
  • Is training paid for by the center?
  • Is there a specific dress code?
  • What are the expectations related to communicating with families?

Julie shared a copy of Brighter Days’ handbook with Mariela that clearly described important information about the program. After the interview, Mariela felt reassured and confident that this center would be a good fit for her. She was happy to receive the detailed staff handbook that described policies, procedures, and expectations for staff members.

tabletop view of stationery and employee handbook
Guidelines for Best Practice

This sections helps you meet the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Staff Policies and Handbook: ADM 10.3.

Family child care staff is limited to people who are paid employees and includes:

  • Additional adults (a person required to be present when registered for more than 2 children under the age of two years); and
  • Aides or assistants employed by the provider.

Staff for family child care does not include volunteers or substitutes (whether paid or not).

Select the Requirements tab to learn about key policies to include in your documentation.


The following interactive shows the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Staff Policies and Handbook: ADM 10.3. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about what to include in your documentation.

Select the option that applies to your program type:


Child Care Center
ADM 10.3: Staff Policies & Handbook Staff policies developed and included in written handbook. Documentation to submit: Staff handbook

Family Child Care

School-Age Only
ADM 10.3: Staff Policies & Handbook Staff policies developed and included in written handbook. Documentation to submit: Staff handbook



To meet the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Staff Policies and Handbook: ADM 10.3, you will upload a statement about your program’s staff policies and procedures.

The Policy or Statement Builder provides a step-by-step guide for creating policies for your staff handbook.

Staff Handbook

Staff policies help everyone to better understand and meet the expectations a program has of its employees. Policies organized in a written handbook can be a helpful reference when questions arise and provide a resource for staff members to find information that helps them fulfill their responsibilities to your program.

This list includes examples of different topics for staff policies and procedures. Compare the examples to your own written documents and policies. You may have others to add to this list:

Suggested Topics for Staff Policies

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Evaluations
  • Holidays
  • Staff meetings
  • Illness / sickness
  • Emergency procedures / evacuations
  • Training
  • Benefits

Try this interactive and review the two scenarios. The flipside gives you something to think about as you review or develop your program's staff policies.

Scenario #1:

  • Do your staff policies include information regarding holidays and time off?
  • Do your staff policies specify which holidays are considered “paid holidays” and which require the use of leave time?
  • Do your staff policies clearly explain the process for taking time off?
  • How do you handle situations where two teachers in a classroom request off the same day?________________

Scenario #1:

A staff member registers for and attends training, per the licensing requirement for continued training hours. When she returns from training, she asks how soon she can expect to be reimbursed for her registration and travel expenses.

You indicate to her that because this is a licensing requirement, there is no reimbursement. The staff member tells you that this was never communicated to her, and expects to be reimbursed.

Scenario #2:

  • Does your program have a written policy that describes performance evaluations?
  • Is the purpose of evaluations clear?
  • Does your policy explain any expectations around goal-setting and improvement plans for staff members?

Scenario #2:

The Program Director schedules a performance evaluation with an assistant teacher. The Assistant Teacher is anxious.

She was never told she would be evaluated and doesn’t understand the purpose of the evaluation.


What does the documentation look like?

You will upload a written handbook of policies and procedures for your staff members.


How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Read your policies as if you were a new staff member in your program. Would you have a clear understanding of your program’s expectations? What policies communicate that all staff are held to the same high standards or expectations and treated fairly and equally?

Consider including how staff members receive information about your program’s policies. For example:

  • Are policies received when a new staff member is hired?
  • Do you review staff policies with your employees?
  • How are changes or updates to your policies communicated to staff members?

Where can you learn more?

Child Care Aware offers helpful tips for developing policies for families and staff members. Take a look at some of their suggestions. An example of a set of policies is included on the website.

Developing Your Policies and Procedures

Developing Your Policies and Procedures - Child Care Aware

Your policies and procedures will include a number of important topics. Some will be larger and overarching and others may seem less significant. All of these items, however large or small, are important to think about and establish ahead of time so that your business may run smoothly and all parties, from employees to families, know what to expect.

Do you need help developing policies or creating a staff handbook?

Remember to use your resources:

Quality Assurance Specialists



          or local

Child Care Resource Centers

Maryland Child Care Resource Center Locations | Maryland Family Network

Montgomery County Prince George's County Prince George's Child Resource Center 9475 Lottsford Road, Suite 202 Largo, Maryland 20774 tel 301.772.8420 Executive Director Jennifer Hoffman email web Calvert, Charles & St.

Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you create a handbook that includes your program's staff policies and procedures. You have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final statement before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System. Writing your responses in full sentences now gives you a head-start on when you edit your statement later.


Build-A-Policy: Staff Handbook

Final Touches

Check your handbook of written policies and procedures for staff as you prepare to submit it to the Maryland EXCELS System.


Check to be sure your documentation includes:

A staff handbook that describes specific policies, procedures, and expectations for employees of your program


Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (example: staff-handbook.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your staff handbook (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Digital images / pictures of your staff handbook’s policies and procedures (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.


Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate the document you saved on the computer

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

Did you know that if your staff handbook includes specific policies and procedures for topics such as health, safety, staff benefits and more, you may meet the requirements for ADM 10.4 and ADM 10.5!

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to review the requirements for higher quality ratings in the Maryland EXCELS System. Meeting these requirements may be easier than you think. Take a few small steps each month to add policies and procedures to your handbook. Remember to upload any updates or changes to the system.


Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (ADM 10.3)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your staff handbook for ADM 10.3.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation