If I polled most providers I am sure that one of the most abused and violated policies would probably be the Drop-off & Pickup policy. I know it was a biggie for me once upon a time. I say it was because I developed a habit of handling this issue so that it no longer was out of control at my childcare. So if you are dealing with this issue at your childcare, this post is just for you. I will show you how to identify the issue early, develop a policy and how to enforce a Drop-off & Pickup policy.
Developing a Drop-off & Pickup Policy for Childcare
What’s the Issue? Drop-off & Pickup Policy
It’s 7:00 pm and you find yourself staring at the clock. Why? Because there are still kids at your childcare when you closed at 6:00 pm. The thing is, this happens quite a lot. Parents taking their time to pick up their children and disregarding their contracted times.
So what can you do? You have talked to them but it keeps happening.
Believe me, I can relate. Back in the day, I had parents picking up and dropping off at all times. It doesn’t seem like that big of an issue until you have an appointment and there are still kids here. Or you are working more and more hours and getting burned out.
Parents will dismiss contracted times if you let them.
Here’s how it goes; a new parent will say they will only use the childcare between this time and that time. They might even say they will pick up early. That is until they think well I can run here really quick and just pick up their child later. After all, it’s the provider’s job to keep the child until the parent gets there.
What? Hold on there!
Except that’s not what we agreed to in the contract.
What do the Regs Say?
You are probably thinking there aren’t any regulations that make parents pick up on-time, right?
What most parents probably don’t realize is that the provider is licensed or certified by the state. As such, most have specific operating hours for the childcare. Anything outside of those times is out of compliance with the license. Being out of compliance could mean fines, citation or both for the provider.
The parents might not realize this but the provider should!
In my state, the licensing body is allowed to inspect up to one hour before and one hour after the times specified on my license. That means if licensing were to happen to visit and there were still children in care before or after my operating hours, I could be cited and/or fined.
A Common Sense Policy Drop-off & Pickup Policy
Now I know this is not the case for everyone, especially in states or provinces that don’t have certain licensing requirements. So if that’s you, this probably will not be something that you can point to.
But if you do have similar licensing restrictions, not only should you adhere to that regulation, you should also use it to your advantage.
What do I mean?
If for example, your license says you are to care for children between the hours of 6:00 am to 5:00 pm, then stipulating that in your contract is a good idea. Additionally, you might want to require that parents pick up a little earlier than the cutoff time, just to cover the “there was so much traffic” excuse.
Now that’s using licensing for the good!
How to Develop a Policy
I think even though there might not be a state licensing policy, it is our responsibility to develop a common sense drop-off & pickup policy for our businesses. In doing so, consider the following:
- What are the operating hours for your childcare (what does your license say)?
- When is it acceptable to drop-off or pickup (what is too early or too late)?
- What will happen if the policy is not adhered to (fees, termination, etc.)?
It is important to keep in mind that the following information is meant to help providers develop a common sense Drop-off & Pickup Policy for Childcare that can be used for their businesses regardless of the state or region they reside in.
Policies that you can adapt and customize: Drop-off & Pickup Policy
This policy by Little Giggles Daycare is very clear that parents need to take their contracted times seriously. The policy also states that parents need to make other plans if they are unable to pick up by that time. It continues with what the childcare will do if a child is not picked up on time. Finally, it states what the consequences are if a child is picked up late.
“It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that children are picked up by their contracted times and ultimately no later than 5:30 pm. If you are unable to pick up your child by the contracted time, alternate arrangements must be made. In the event that a parent cannot be contacted, it is our policy to call an emergency contact. If parents or emergency contacts cannot be reached, authorities will be called to ensure the safety of the child.
A late fee of $5.00 per 15 minutes per child will apply if a child remains in care after 5:30 pm unless prior arrangements have been made or if it can’t be helped due to an emergency or weather situation. This late fee will be added to the week’s normal charges.”
Drop-off & Pickup Policy
Little Angels Daycare & Preschool outlines this dropoff & pickup policy right on their website (a good practice).
Finally, here Tom Copeland outlines a sample dropoff & pickup policy with examples for allowing for a certain number of infractions before a certain consequence. Such a provision can show a little flexibility in a policy without deflating it.
It is important to note that a provider can and should develop a policy that works best for their business. That being said, you can cut, paste and customize whatever elements from the above policies you like and use them as your own.
All set, because most parents read our policies right? (Uhh, maybe not)
Enforcement Drop-off & Pickup Policy
As with any policy, enforcement is just as important as the policy itself.
As a provider YOU will have to stand behind your policies. Just like your contract, you will need to ensure you are following the rules just as much as your clients. So pull out your backbone and try not to waiver or make too many exceptions.
The thing is, most parents just don’t read their contract. Not even in the beginning. Which is why it would be a good idea to plan how you will enforce your Dropoff & Pickup Policy for Childcare.
One of the ways I have been able to get Dropoff & Pickup’s under control is by sending out reminder notes about key policies throughout the year. It is a little more work, but when parents see the reminder they know I mean business.
This can be as easy as taking your policy and copy and pasting it into an email or flyer format and routinely sending it out every few months or whenever you see there is a problem.
EASY ways to enforce your policy
- Create a separate document or contract addendum for your Dropoff & Pickup Policy for Childcare. Try to use (borrow one if you need to) a graphic to illustrate the key thresholds of your policy. The purpose so it will stand out and hopefully be read.
- Remind parents of your policy. Don’t be afraid to send out reminders (especially when you see a problem on the horizon) of what the dropoff & pickup policy states. Yeah, this is a little more work but a little for a lot less frustration is a fair trade.
The Bottom Line
The fact of the matter is no policy is going to be bulletproof! Sad but true!
Parents are probably going to challenge whatever your policy is. The important thing is for you to have a policy that works for your business, keeps you in line with your license and that you will enforce. Because the bottom line is most of us know that the “stricter the better” policy is most likely the one that keeps the clients in line.