I am sure that my provider colleagues out there would agree that most of the time our clients do not really understand or empathize with our job. Sure they need us and may show their appreciation at times, but they don’t truly have a real understanding of what it takes to do our job. But what do daycare parents really need to know?
So after reading this post where Megan Elford asked other providers what they wished daycare parents knew, I was inspired to share ways that providers can better enlighten parents about just what it takes to be a child care provider. The Why, What & How to tell parents what they need to know.
So I thought I would expand on that thought and try to figure out what parents really need to know but also just how to tell them.
What Daycare Parents Really Need to Know
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When I started the childcare years ago never did I imagine I would have to deal with so many different things. From scared new parents with endless questions to restrictive regulations to endless paperwork to custody issues –
IT’S A LOT!
In fact when I started I very rarely shared many of the details of my responsibilities with my clients or even my own family. Having come from a corporate background, I felt it was better to do my job rather than to complain or explain my job duties. I didn’t think parents would be very interested in knowing the background of what it took to run this business.
Well, years later I have since reversed myself. After hearing so many parents tell me what a moneymaking venture childcare was or how nice it must be to sit around and play with kids all day I have found that it is best to clue them in on some of the details. And no I don’t bog them down with all the frustrations that I face (they really couldn’t handle that). Instead, I find ways to inform and interject the real responsibilities of being a child care provider in several ways. First, let’s talk about why you should share, then we will talk about the what & how.
Why Parents Need to Know
A couple of years ago I asked one of my assistants that if she were a parent coming to the childcare would she think that most of the policies that I had were just made up by me. She said although having worked at the daycare she now realized that many rules were imposed upon me, she did say that initially, she would have thought that it was my preferences and decisions that were driving the policies.
While it is true that certain preferences are at the discretion of the provider, many policies are not. This is why as providers we need to find ways to tell parents some of the gritty little details of our responsibilities.
What Daycare Parents Need to Know
Many parents may not realize that you pay for your license annually, pay for your certifications to be updated, pay for your business insurance, have a weekly payroll, work 50+ hours a week, etc. The fact is there is a lot no one would know unless they do your job. But here are a few specific responsibilities providers should find ways of explaining and why:
- Polices – Since many policies are actually regulations that a provider MUST follow under their license.
- What licensing says – If it is a regulation, put the heat on licensing whenever you have to explain the why of a certain policy.
- New things – Regulations change and a provider needs to find ways to stay on top of them and inform their clients.
- What your day is like – Sometimes I try to find ways to mention that I actually work a full 11 hours a day at the childcare.
Whew! That’s a lot of information, so let’s see just how a provider could share all that with their clients.
How to tell them
There are actually quite a few ways to keep your clients in the know. Some I am sure you already use. Check them out. Maybe there are some you may have not yet tried using to communicate with parents.
Here are 3 easy ways I get information out to my clients:
- Paperwork – One of the easiest ways to fill parents in on your policies is through your contract and handbook. At my orientations, I provide a lot of printed material and explain that many of the policies that I have are based on regulations that I must follow as a state-licensed childcare provider.
- Reminders – You know how speed limit signs are posted randomly. They are there to remind drivers what the rules are. Think about sending quick little reminders out to your clients every now and then. They are a little extra work, but in the long run might be worth the effort.
- Daily notes – I have used daily notes for years. They are a very effective form of communication with parents. I often use them to remind parents of a certain policy or rule at the child care.
4 More was to communicate with parents:
- Memo – A good old fashion memo is a great way to remind parents of a holiday approaching or even a new regulation. Providers could post this near the sign in sheet or even send them home with the children. Throughout the year I send out special notices to parents regarding certain policies that we have. These are basically reminders to them just in case they may have forgotten from our initial orientation some of our policies.
- Email – Save a tree and send out your memos or notes directly to the parent’s inbox. This is even better because you have a paper trail that shows just when they were notified.
- Text – The truth is I really don’t like using text for professional communications. Sometimes, however, they are a very fast and effective way of reaching parents to get information to them.
- Newsletter – I put out a quarterly newsletter to the child care parents. I use it to inform them about upcoming themes, events, new or changes to policies and regulations, etc. I also use our newsletters as another opportunity to clarify and remind parents about procedures and policies.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget that we are running a business. Especially if you develop close relationships with your clients. Clients can forget that although they are coming into a home you are actually running a business. I get that because it is home based and probably seems a lot less formal. In many aspects, that can be a good thing. Still, it’s important for the provider to remember that they’re answering to a regulatory authority, not just parents.
Bring them in the Loop
Even though it might seem uncomfortable or even unprofessional. But here is a challenge for providers. Find ways to bring their clients in the loop. Consider telling parents about your business responsibilities. I try to find as many opportunities as I can to share information about my business with my clients. The trick is to do it while still maintaining respect and professional credibility.
I think doing so will lead to a better understanding. An understanding of the what, the why and the how we do what we do. In the process providers can actually get parents to know what it means to be a child care provider.