A Parent Drops Her Child Off Early: Now What?


Your family child care contract says you open at 7:00am. One parent consistently shows up at 6:30am.

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

Contracts & Policies bookFor more information about enforcing your rules, see my book Family Child Care Contracts and Policies.



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5 replies

  1. As a family child care provider, my home is locked until I am ready to open for the day. The first time I will unlock the door and kindly but firmly remind them of my hours and/or their contract with me. I have had that parent knock. I let them. I have had them text that they “are here but the door is locked” I just reply that I will be ready for the day at xx:xx. If that does not work I make a copy of the contract that states what my fees are early drop off/late pickup $1 per minute payable THEN). If that way doesn’t work I offer to renegotiate the contract with them. Then I discuss with the new payment (which includes the $1 per minute fee). It rarely goes past the locked door stage.

  2. Excellent advice Tom! I have found the biggest issue providers have is allowing something to happen until they simply can’t deal with it anymore. I think providers need to address issue right away. Doing so helps set the stage for future rule following. If you allow an exception once without discussing it, the parent will simply expect exceptions. I have found my clients follow my rules and policies well because we work together when communicating and neither party allows an issue to build or fester.

  3. I renew my parent contract at least once a year or if changes are made by myself or parents. Drop off and pick up times are included in the contract. Also in between contracts a reminder is included in my family newsletters of their times to drop off and pickup children. A few of my parents even though they have signed and read my policies and contracts stating their hours of care still presume that they can drop off or pickup as long as I am open. For them extra explanation is needed which encludes the cost of their child being cared for will need to be increased which usually ends the issue. Polly A.

  4. I agree with Christa. You have to address the problem right away or it just gets more and more stressful. I go ahead and let them in early the first time they do it and tell them that I don’t open until 8:00 and we go by my clock. Then after that, I just don’t let them in until 8:00. The doors are locked and I keep doing what I was doing to get ready until 8. Usually this ends it. Sometimes I have parents that hang out outside the door for a few minutes. Occasionally, I’ve had parents who needed to drop off early for work. If it’s occasional and they ask ahead of time, that works fine and they pay extra. If it’s a regular thing, I’ve tried having them pay extra but soon find that no amount of money is worth that extra time in the morning.

  5. Before enrolling, my parents know that the child care day begins at 7:00. I open my front drapes at 7:00. Occasionally, I have a parent waiting on the driveway so they can get in, out and back on the road as soon as possible. They understand and abide by my policy. Parents that need an earlier drop off time need a different provider. 🙂

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