Sometimes providers want to share the names of these parents with their fellow providers, to alert them to the possibility that the parent may not pay them. Some family child care associations collect names of such parents and make them available to their members.
Is this a good idea?
I don't like providers or provider associations doing this for several reasons.
First, it's unprofessional
Whatever happened between one parent and one provider is not relevant to the parent's dealings with another provider. I’m sure providers would be unhappy if parents started writing down bad experiences with their child care providers and sharing them with other parents.
Providers can take some simple steps to protect themselves from a parent who may not pay. They can require the parent to pay at least a week in advance. They can also require the parent to pay for the last two weeks in advance (at the time of enrollment).
If a parent can't afford to pay this all at once, the provider can require the parent to pay a little extra each week until this is paid. These two simple steps will solve any problem of a parent not paying, since the parent will not be able to leave the new provider owing money. See an article of mine for more details.
Ask for name of previous caregiver
Another thing a provider can do is to ask a prospective parent for the name of their previous caregiver. If the parent won't give it, the provider shouldn't do care for this family.
There is another issue involved on this subject: slander. Slander is illegal. It occurs when you share information with someone that damages another person’s reputation, and is false.
Let’s say Polly Parent left your program owing you money. You share this information with your friend Sally Provider. Two weeks later Polly pays you what she owes, but you don’t share this with Sally. If Sally tells other providers that Polly owes you money, Sally has committed slander.
Let's say your association keeps a list of parents who left owing money to their provider. What if a provider reports to her association that a parent owes her money, but, in fact, the parent doesn’t? What if the parent later pays a provider? Over time, the information on this list will tend to become outdated. Once the association starts passing on false information about parents, the association can be accused of committing slander.
Beyond the issue of slander I don’t believe it’s a good business practice to share negative information about past clients. I know that some providers get very frustrated with parents who don’t pay. But since there are some simple rules providers can follow to avoid getting ripped off, I don’t believe it’s necessary to share negative information.
Tom Copeland - www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: danielleshere.tumblr.com
For more information about making sure parents never leave your program owing you money, see my book Family Child Care Contracts and Policies.