* The child is sick
* The parent is taking a vacation
* The parent wants the child to be with her grandparents
* Other reasons
Sometimes these parents will ask you, "Why should I have to pay for days that my child is not in your care?"
How do you respond?
The simplest answer is, "Because that's my policy."
If you have a written contract that spells out the circumstances in which parents must pay when they don't bring their child to your care, then this answer should be sufficient.
But, some child care providers struggle to explain their policies and end up trying to give detailed justifications for them. I don't think it's important to bend over backwards trying to convince a parents that your policies are reasonable and the parent's opinion is wrong.
Instead, here's a short explanation you may want to use:
"You are paying me to be ready and prepared to offer your child professional care five days a week. If your child is not present one day, I cannot fill this space that day and will therefore lose money unless you pay me. You are paying me to hold your child's spot, not necessarily for using it. When I was in college, I paid full tuition, even though I may not have attended all my classes. I pay for my mortgage even when I'm on vacation. I believe my policy is reasonable."
If the parent wants to argue with you about this, don't try to justify your policy by saying much more. Some parents are struggling financially and are looking to save money. Other parents may be testing you to see if you will enforce your policy.
Child care providers can set their own rules about this. You can allow parents a specific number of sick days or vacation days that they can use without paying. Or not. When you close for holidays and take your own vacations you can either charge for these days or not. It's up to you.
Once you have set your policies, go over them when parents enroll and ask if they have any questions. After that, you are less likely to have conflicts with parents if you consistently enforce your rules.
What's your policy?
Tom Copeland - www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: urbanmilwaukee.com
For more information, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.