First, you shouldn't violate the terms of your contract. If your contract requires you to give a two-week notice of termination, don't give a notice any shorter than this.*
If your contract doesn't say anything about giving parents a notice, you can do whatever you want.
But, how much notice should you give?
On the one hand, you want parents to have plenty of time to find other child care arrangements. The amount of time may vary depending on the age of the child, the available child care options, and the family's circumstances.
On the other hand, you don't want to give a longer notice and have parents leave before you want them to leave. Some parents may be unhappy that you are closing and leave right away after concluding that your heart isn't in it anymore. Or, some parents may be able to find other child care arrangements right away.
One provider gave her parents a three month notice and a parent left after one week. The provider was counting on the money she would earn over the three months, so she was very unhappy about what happened.
Therefore, if you don't mind that a parent might leave right away, you can give parents a lot of advance notice, maybe 3-6 months.
If you don't want to lose parents early, give a shorter notice period of maybe a month or so.
What explanation, if any, should you give parents for why you are leaving?
You are not required to offer any explanation. I wouldn't recommend putting anything in writing. Don't go into details about any personal family issues that led to your decision to close. Keep your verbal explanation short. Give your parents a short written notice, "The last day of care for your child will be on _____________."
Good luck in your new life!
How much notice do you think you should give parents?
* I always recommend that providers put in their contract, "Provider may terminate at will." This gives you the flexibility to close down your business on your terms. This can be very helpful if you have a family emergency and must close immediately.
Tom Copeland - www.tomcopelandblog.com
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