It’s strange but dealing with parents can be one of the most frustrating aspects of running a daycare center. Whether you offer daycare in-home or run a larger commercial operation, chronically late parents can cause all sorts of scheduling problems. It can lead to paying overtime to unhappy workers who just want to go home.
It’s one thing to be late once or twice a year due to traffic, weather, and the like. It is even okay to be late more frequently if your job doesn’t have specific hours. These are all things daycare providers can work with. But chronically late parents who seem to have no concern for the daycare’s schedule cause problems they might not even be aware of.
Do you run a daycare center? If so, here are some helpful tips for dealing with chronically late parents:
1. Distribute Printed Reminders
Often times being tardy is a simple matter of losing track of time. There are times when this type of chronic behavior can be corrected with a written reminder. Here’s what you do: have a reminder template printed up, then keep an ample supply on-site. Whenever a parent is late, just fill in the arrival time and hand the slip over.
Getting multiple slips in a short amount of time might be embarrassing enough to cause a guilty parent to better manage his or her time. If that doesn’t work, you can try the next suggestion.
2. Have a Face-To-Face
The next suggestion is to pull the parent aside and have a face-to-face conversation. Let it be known in no uncertain terms that schedules must be adhered to. There’s no need to be rude or offensive but being firm is non-negotiable. The less firm you are about your schedule, the less parents will respect it.
3. Institute a Late Fee
In cases where printed reminders and face-to-face discussions do not work, you can always institute a late fee. Ivy School, a nationwide network of in-home childcare providers, says that late fees are more common these days. Daycare providers are gradually coming to the realization that sometimes only financial penalties will do the trick.
As an added benefit, late fees also provide a little extra cash to cover the expenses associated with keeping children past the deadline. Remember, you may have to pay some of your workers overtime to cover for late parents. That extra pay comes out of your pocket. If you institute a late fee, you can make it whatever you need to cover overtime.
4. Alter Operating Hours
Maybe you are not the kind of person who is comfortable assessing a late fee. You might want to try the psychological approach instead. Alter your operating hours so that you have plenty of buffer time to deal with chronically late parents.
Let’s say you look to have all the children dropped off by 9 AM. Change the start of your learning program to 8:30. Do the same thing on the other end. Change your closing time by 30 minutes or so with the understanding that some of your parents are always going to be late.
Interestingly enough, implementing any of the ideas suggested here should help you identify why your chronically late parents cannot seem to be on time. Some have legitimate reasons that cannot be overcome no matter what they do. Others are just poor managers of their time. They make decisions – like stopping at the grocery store on the way over – without regard to whether such decisions will make them late. That is just the way it goes.