As a home based childcare provider, you invite complete strangers into your home, and these strangers in turn are trusting you to care for their most precious gifts-their children.
Over time with trust, respect, and communication this client/provider relationship grows, and you become more comfortable with each other. Soon you work well together, just like a well oiled machine. You understand each other's communication style, and are respectful of each other needs.
But what happens when you start to notice red flags? What are some of those deal breakers that might indicate this client isn't a match for your program, and things that you won't tolerate in your provider/client relationship?
Deal breakers from our Readers
"Not respecting my opening/closing times. Expecting me to watch their children after normal hours for free, something they wouldn't do but somehow think we providers love. I'm officially open 50 hours a week and with all the side work to be done before/after I'm closer to 65. When they're a half hour late picking up it makes me a half hour later in everything I need to do after I close, right down to getting to bed that night so it really is a big deal." -Debby S. of Debby's way cool preschool
"Being disrespectful of my time with my family, expecting my availability to be without limitations and immediate. If it's not a weekday or open hours of operation and not previously scheduled I won't be able to spend an extended amount of time on a discussion with you, I'm not being unprofessional or inattentive but rather setting boundaries which are important when your business is ran from your home."
- Jennifer M.
"Being disrespectful to me, and those who work with me- raising voice, threatening, or talking down to us. Reprimanding any child, that's not your own- point it out to us, and we'll take care of it. Lying about being late pickup- text situation asap, and not being truthful." -Tammy T
"Forgetting" to pay but remembering to bring the child, belongings, etc.
Asking for rollover days that aren't used to be used the following week.
Taking advantage of me, my business, my pay schedule." -Holly L.
"Getting texts on the weekends asking what the child needs for the week, after I let them know on Friday at pick up time.." -Sarah N.
"Leaving children (under 12) unattended in the car at drop off or pick up." -JoAnn M.
"Not paying in a timely manner after several reminders. Everyone has an occasional lapse, but when it's on-going, it's disrespectful & an indication of how they think about the importance of what we do." -Angela C.
"Late pick ups, early drop offs and not paying." -JC W.
"Disrespect when we take day(s) off- they have no problem taking time off" -Lindsey R.
"If you balk at my holiday time after you've signed our service contract agreeing to all terms. The parent could have said no moving on to another daycare that worked for them." -Eileen D. of Gingerbread Manor Childcare
"Disrespecting my policy and making me feel guilty for enforcing something they signed"-Kay G.
"Knowingly bringing a child that is sick to my program and not informing me." Sheena W.
Keep the lines of communication open
Do your best to communicate with your clients within a timely manner. Don't let problems linger. Let clients know (up front) the best way to communicate with you when they have a concern (Do you want them to text you, speak to you face to face at pick up?, etc), and ask them the same.
Policies are golden
Make sure you have addressed your "deal breakers" in your handbook. Consistently follow the policies you have in place. Revise & Update your handbook as needed and create a process for handling policy violations (outline this process in your handbook).
Nurture your relationships
Just like a personal relationship your daycare provider & client relationship needs to be nurtured. You'll need compromise, communication, honesty and mutual respect. Spend time getting to know your clients, and work towards building a strong foundation to your relationship. Understand that most issues can be worked out and solved amicably, but also know your boundaries.
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