* A pregnant parent calls and wants to enroll her infant in your family child care program four months later.
* A current parent will be staying home with her child during the summer and wants to bring her child back to your program in the fall.
I have heard from child care providers who held an opening for several months for free, only to find out days before the care was to begin that the parent was not bringing her child. During this time they had turned down the opportunity to care for other children and were very upset about the money they had lost.
To avoid this problem, most child care providers charge a small fee in exchange for their promise to hold the opening. Others charge a percentage of their regular rate during this time.
I strongly recommend that if you promise to hold a space for a parent, you ask them to pay for this promise. If the parent doesn't want to pay a holding fee, tell the parent that you will be happy to care for their child if you have an opening when they want to return. But don't promise to hold the space. It's that simple.
What if you can't easily fill your opening?
Let’s say parent Patricia Lessard wants to enroll her child in your program in September but can’t afford your holding fee. If you anticipate having a difficult time filling your space, you may want make Patricia this offer: You will continue to advertise to fill your space. If no other parent contacts you before September, Patricia can enroll her child and won’t have to pay a holding fee. If another parent wants to enroll their child before September, you will agree to call Patricia first to see if she will be willing to pay a fee to hold her spot. This gives Patricia hope that she will be able to enroll her child.