Most family child care providers have a written contract and policies that spell out rules they expect parents to follow.
But, it’s common for many providers to fail to consistently enforce their own rules.
Here’s some examples:
A provider’s contract says parents must pay on Friday for the following week, but the provider regularly accepts payments on Monday.
A provider’s contract says there is a $1 a minute late pick up fee, but the provider has never charged parents who pick up late.
A parent is violating a provider’s policies in a variety of ways: bringing toys from home, not notifying the provider on days when the child is not coming to care, not taking off her shoes when entering the provider’s home, or not leaving the child home when the child is sick.
If you have not been consistently enforcing your contract or policies and now want to start doing so, what should you do?
The short answer is: Start enforcing your rules now!
You can say to parents, “I know I haven’t been consistently enforcing all of my rules in the past. Starting next Monday I will strictly enforcing my contract and policies. Here’s another copy of them. If you have any questions, let me know.”
Parents may not like to hear this. If they complain about your new position, tell them, “I can understand your concern about my not enforcing my rules consistently. But, I’ve decided things will run more smoothly if we both follow the terms of our agreement. I appreciate your cooperation going forward.”
It’s your business and your rules. And, it’s your responsibility to enforce them.
To enforce your rules you need to give the parent a consequence for not following your rules.
For example, the consequence for not paying on Friday might be a late payment fee. The consequence of bringing toys or not giving advance notification of an absence can be a financial penalty ($25 per violation) or a three strikes and you are out policy.
If a parent continues to violate your policies you need to either terminate the parent’s contract or change your policies to allow the parent to do what they want.
Parents are much more likely to follow your rules if you consistently enforce them!
You should also pay attention to be sure that you are following your own rules. Review your contract and policies at least once a year. Maybe you aren’t following a rule: not going on one field trip a month, not getting identification before allowing a non-parent to pick up the child, or violating the privacy of parents by sharing information about them with others, etc.
If you find that you are violating your own policies, either get rid of the policy or start following it immediately!
You can always change your contract and policies if they no longer suit your purposes. Any change to a contract must be in writing and signed by both parties. You can make changes to your policies without a parent signature if it’s a separate document from your contract.
Don’t kick yourself in the head about what you did or didn’t do in the past. Let it go. It doesn’t matter now.
Look ahead and start enforcing your rules now.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com