Published Date: 02/26/20
As childcare providers, dealing with difficult parents is often more challenging than dealing with their children. Parents and providers must have a symbiotic relationship in daycare and preschool for everyone to remain happy and for children to thrive. So, what happens when you have a family who isn’t working out and what are the reasons you should terminate care?
Terminating care isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Fundamentally, you’re not trying to put a parent in a bad situation, but sometimes have no choice. You run the risk of a parent leaving a bad review (read our tips on how to handle a bad review here) and may end up with an empty spot in your program for several months. But sometimes it’s unavoidable.
Importantly, have your policies laid out clearly in your parent handbook and ensure they’re agreed to and enforced consistently. If you’re inconsistent in enforcement of your policies, you’ll have a harder time terminating when necessary.
That said, here are reasons why care should be terminated.
1. Continually late tuition payments
In the early childhood education industry, sometimes our hearts are bigger than our bank accounts. You love a child and really like the parents as well. First and foremost, you are a business owner. Your business happens to be caring for children but that doesn’t mean that you should jeopardize it because of late tuition. You have staff to pay, insurance, rent, materials, utilities, and more to cover. Continually late tuition payments put your business, and all of the families in your care, at risk. You never know when an emergency might strike and if parents aren’t paying tuition on time, you may not have enough in the bank to cover it.
2. Inability to meet needs
We hope all childcare providers make strides in accommodating children with both physical and developmental special needs. However, sometimes it’s impossible to meet the needs of a particular child. You should terminate care only after you’ve made all reasonable efforts to accommodate him or her. This is especially true in situations when parents won’t get a child recommended evaluations and truly beneficial early interventions.
3. Disruptive behavior
You should be armed with tools to develop children’s social and emotional skills so you can mitigate and change disruptive behavior. But what if the disruption is coming from a parent? This could be constant check-ins that don’t lessen after discussions. Or causing a scene in front of children or other parents. Or a parent being overly involved and continuously telling you or your daycare or preschool staff how to do their jobs. If a parent is repeatedly disruptive to your program, it’s time to terminate care.
4. Doesn’t provide required materials for their child
You may encounter a parent who regularly doesn’t provide or replace diapers and wipes or “forgets” to pack a lunch. Once in a while is understandable – we all forget things sometimes. But, if this becomes a pattern of behavior – if you find yourself often taking money out of your own pocket to care for a child in your charge – it’s time to let the family go.
5. Misalignment of values
During your tours you should clearly communicate your program’s values and do your best to ensure a proper fit before a family enrolls. Still, as hard as you may try, you may have families who register and are misaligned with your belief system. A mom who practices attachment parenting isn’t going to be happy with a provider who practices CIO. If you have a family who isn’t on board with the way you provide care they may try to get you to change what you’re doing. Forcefully. That scenario that will make everyone unhappy. While you should be willing and able to make some adjustments to suit the needs and wants of individual families, your philosophical approach shouldn’t change for a single family. If the situation can’t be remedied, you should feel confident that you’re making the right decision to terminate care.
6. Badmouthing your business
You absolutely cannot have currently enrolled families saying negative things about your daycare or preschool either in-person or online. However, this is tricky as you need evidence of their behavior. Anyone can create accounts on sites like Yelp with a fake name and post whatever they want. And a rumor is just that – a rumor. Should you hear of a parent badmouthing you or leaving negative reviews on websites, request a meeting with them and ask in a nonconfrontational manner. If you confirm that they have done this, you should let the family go, but be prepared for them to say more negative things and have a plan in place when this occurs so you’re not caught off guard.
7. Consistently late pick-up
This is a judgement call on your part. You should have a late pick-up policy in place and enforce fees associated with late pick up from the first time it happens, even if it’s just a minute past closing. If you are lax on late pick-up fees at your daycare or preschool you can be certain that parents will take advantage of it. You may have a parent who simply doesn’t care about paying the fees and continually ignores closing time. If this is the case, you may have no choice but to terminate to solve the problem.
8. Violent behavior
If you witness violent behavior from a parent you need to put an immediate end to your relationship and of course, report as required. You cannot put the children you care, your staff, or yourself in jeopardy. If the violent behavior is from a child, do everything you can to work with that child and the family to correct the behavior. Sometimes this will be successful and other times it will not. In times when it’s not, you may decide to terminate care for the safety of everyone in your program.
9. Abuse of your staff
While we discussed violent behavior, abuse can be verbal as well. Your staff is your most important asset and should be respected and treated as such. It’s much easier to replace a family than a great teacher. If a staff reports abuse by a parent, support that staff member and immediately investigate. If it’s a pattern of behavior, you must terminate the family.
As a childcare owner or director, you have to evaluate your business needs against a family who isn’t working out for any number or reasons. Deciding to terminate a family is often a tough decision, but necessary in extreme circumstances and once it’s done, your daycare or preschool will run more smoothly and employees will be appreciative of your decision.
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