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.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
For more information, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.
Categories: Contracts & Policies