How To Handle Parent Contacts After Hours

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The work day for many family child care providers does not end when the last child leaves their home.

Cleaning, record keeping, activity preparation, Food Program paperwork, and meal planning are some of these after hours activities.

In addition, you may be in communication with parents during the evenings or on weekends via text, phone or email.

In certain circumstances it is reasonable for parents to want to communicate with their provider during non work hours: their child is sick and won’t attend the next day, the parent has a question about a child’s injury, the parent can’t make a payment on time, a new person will be picking up their child, and so on.

However, for some providers these parent contacts can be excessive and unreasonably interfere with your personal time off.

Here’s some solutions for this problem shared by providers on Daycare.com:

  • Create a separate email address for parents only and tell parents you will respond within 2 days
  • Only check email/texts/phone messages during business hours
  • Inform parents the times you will be available for calls/texts/emails
  • Buy an inexpensive cell phone and use it only for your business. Turn it off when you close.
  • Add a voice message to your phone that says you’ll get back to the caller later. Talk to the parent the next day.
  • Block specific parents from your phone each evening
  • Tell parents you are only available after work for specific reasons (list them) or by setting up an appointment to talk.
  • Turn off your phone 30 minutes after closing and turn it on 30 minutes before opening each day
  • Charge a $20 fee per after hour text/email

You don’t have to be on-call 24 hours a day! It is reasonable to establish guidelines for when you are available after hours. If parents start abusing your rules, it’s up to you to put your foot down and not respond to attempts at after hours communication.

How do you handle this problem?

Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

Contracts & Policies bookFor more information about how to handle parent conflicts, see my book “Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.”

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/

 



Categories: Contracts & Policies

3 replies

  1. It took me many years in business with parents calling and texting all hours after closing (even when politely asked numerous times to not call/text after hours) to get a separate cell phone strictly for business. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. No after hours calls/texts have ever warranted a true emergency to get ahold of me that could not wait until the next day. I turn it off after the last child leaves for the day. No more texting me after I close during the week, weekends, my vacation, etc. I absolutely love it and wish I would have done this from the beginning. It’s a small price to pay to peace and sanity in our business.

  2. I state in my voice mail that all calls will be returned on the next business day. It doesn’t stop people from calling at all hours to inquire about daycare openings, but it does let them know I won’t be returning their call when they call at 10 pm at night. lol

  3. The ideas in this article are great if you are having a problem. However, I have used my ability to be contacted after hours as a marketing tool. The families like to know that I am accessible outside of business hours. Fortunately, I have never had a family abuse it. If that happens, I might change my policy.

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