What do you do?
There are probably two main reasons why parents may drop off their children early. They must be at work on time. Or, they want the flexibility of dropping off whenever they want.
Regardless of the reasons, you can set your own rules about when you will provide child care. It's your business; it's your rules.
Therefore, you have several options to handle this situation.
* You can do nothing and allow the parent to drop off whenever she wants.
* You could accommodate the parent who must drop off early to get to work on time. You can charge her more, if you wish.
* You can set a policy that says early drop offs are only allowed to meet a work schedule.
* You can insist that all parents must not drop off early. If a parent violates this rule you can either charge more for an early drop off or end your contract.
Which option is best for you? Whichever one makes you happy.
If you are going to allow parents to drop off whenever they want, you need to be happy about it when it happens.
It is reasonable to charge a parent more who drops off early, in the same way that it's reasonable to charge more when a parent picks up late.
Usually providers include their drop off time in their contract. And, in most situations parents are informing providers when their schedule changes that may affect their ability to drop off on time.
Enforcing Your Rules
But, when a parent is not notifying you ahead of time about a change in their schedule, or is dropping off at inconsistent times, it is up to you to address this.
Many child care providers struggle with confronting parents who don't follow one or more of their contract rules. It can be awkward and uncomfortable. You may think that it's easier to avoid the problem and hope it goes away.
But, I urge you to enforce your rules immediately and consistently. Doing so will eliminate many future problems.
Start by examining how you feel about a parent dropping off early. If it doesn't bother you, let it go. However, if it does bother you, it's up to you to do something about it.
You need to first decide what you want in this situation. In other words, what will make you happy? Will you be happy if the parent pays you extra? If so, establish an early drop off fee. If you don't want to deal with extra fees, then you should tell the parent they can't drop off early and if they do so, terminate your contract.
Putting your foot down may seem difficult at first, but it's the only way you will get what you want. The vast majority of parents will follow your rules, once you enforce them, so don't worry about losing a parent over this. Any parent who walks out because you enforce your own rules isn't a parent you want in your program.
How have you dealt with early drop offs?
Tom Copeland - www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: www.keepcalmmommyon.com
For more information about enforcing your rules, see my book Family Child Care Contracts and Policies.