How to End a Parent Contract

6a0133f3fc5805970b01a73e12aa0e970d-320wiUnfortunately, there may come a day when you decide it would be best to terminate a parent contract.

Why would you want to end your agreement with a parent? There can be many reasons.

* The parent regularly breaks your rules

* The parent is disruptive or difficult to deal with

* The child is disruptive or difficult to manage

* Or other reasons

You can end your contract for any reason or no reason.

The only exception to this general rule is that you cannot terminate your contract because of the parent’s  or child’s race, sex, religion, ethnic background, national origin or disability. Some states may include other protected groups and disallow discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status or public assistance.

Let’s assume you are not discriminating illegally.

Before you find yourself in the situation where you are considering ending a contract with a family, you should first review what your contract says about how you should do this. You must follow what your contract says, or you could find it difficult to enforce if you ended up in court.

If your contract requires you to give a two-week notice, do so. There are situations, however, when you will want to terminate care immediately, regardless of what your contract says. This can be the case if a parent is deliberately violates your contract or policies. Or falsely accuses your program of child neglect. Or threatens you or your helpers. Or owes you money and refuses to pay up.

In these situations, it’s best to end your agreement right away. Don’t worry about what your contract says. If the parent decides to sue you, it’s unlikely that she will win because of their threat to your program or their failure to follow your rules.

To prevent any disputes over how you end your contract, include the following language in it: “Child care program may terminate at will.”

This allows you to terminate immediately, if necessary. This is not unreasonable, even if you do require parents to give you a two-week notice, or longer. You need to protect yourself and your business. Such language allows you to give a parent some notice before terminating if you want.

Obviously, you don’t want to terminate a family unless you have to. You have probably already tried to resolve the problem and negotiate a solution. Since it’s your business, you can do what you want.

Here’s my suggested three-step process you should follow before ending your contract.

Step One: State the problem and its consequences

Talk to the parent very specifically about what needs to change and clearly state that if the problem doesn’t get resolved, you will terminate your contract with them.

You might say, “Mrs. Jones, you have been several days late in paying your tuition for the last two months. This cannot continue. If it does, I will be forced to terminate our contract.”

Step Two: Give the Parent a Written Warning

If the problem continues, give the parent a written warning that the contract will be terminated if it happens again. Sign it and date it and indicate this is the parent’s final warning.

Your statement might say, “Today your tuition was paid two days late. We’ve talked about this problem before. This notice is to inform you that if you don’t pay on time again I will terminate you from our program. This is my final warning.”

Step Three: Give the Parent a Termination Notice

If the problem happens again, give the parent a termination notice. It should be short.

Here’s an example: “This notice is to inform you that the last day of child care for your child will be on (give a specific day).” Sign it. Date it and give one copy to the parent. Ask the parent to sign another copy and keep it in your records.

That’s it. Don’t give any written reasons for termination. It should already be clear to the parent why. If you put reasons in writing or get into a discussion with the parent, you may say something that will upset the parent further and increase the chances they will make a complaint or try to sue you.


If you can’t resolve a conflict or problem with a parent, don’t hesitate to begin the three-step process to terminate your agreement. Even though you may love caring for the child, it’s not worth it to let problems fester with the parent. Your retirement is not going to be delayed if you terminate this parent. Let them go and you’ll find another family to care for.

Listen to this article as a podcast. Here’s a link to all of my podcasts.

Tom Copeland –

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Contracts & Policies bookFor more information, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.

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5 replies

  1. I have 3 small children out because of hand foot mouth disease. The mother of the 2 text me yesterday and says all these nice things, but I cant afford for my children to be home. I have to go to work. Yes I have explained till I am blue in the face of the sick and exclusion policy. She doesn’t understand and she is requesting her money be refunded since I will not watch the girls while they are sick. My paperwork is very clear on policies ect…
    she said to me, get there stuff ready and I will be by. Laughing, should I offer to keep them for the balance of the dates due to her or just let her walk? 20 years, never has this been so crazy!

  2. Since your contract is clear that parents must pay even if their child is sick and cannot attend, you should not refund any money. Parents sometime push providers to see what they can get. If she is going to leave your program she needs to follow whatever your contract says about giving your notice. I always recommend that providers require parents to pay the last two weeks in advance, so parents can’t leave owing this money. You should make it clear that you will continue to provide care under your contract, so the parent doesn’t think you are terminating your agreement.

    • Hi and thank you. I did not here back from her today. I have not terminated her, she just said she is leaving. I said to her, so you are pulling them out? She said yes. She never showed up for there belongings. I am thinking if she ask me, I will provide care through the end date. Seems as if she totally forgot all about our paper work. 😊

  3. Tom, I have a very dirty dilemma, I will be officially licensed start of December, but I have been watching a family for the past 6 months. They are constantly late on payments and its like pulling teeth getting her to pay she always has an excuse. I gave her a basic rules and regs for my home when she started but never signed it…I made the huge mistake of not enforcing so even though I wasn’t licensed. She constantly lies and shows up late, pays late and im just sick of it. I will be terminating our child care agreement in the next week. Anything you recommend since we do not have a written agreement?

    • You have a verbal contract with this parent that you could enforce in court if you had to. If she owes you money I would give her a written statement indicating what she owes you and see if she can agree to a repayment plan. If so, get her to sign it. If she doesn’t owe you money, go ahead and terminate her immediately. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a written contract. Since you have nothing in writing you can terminate her immediately.

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