How to Handle Specific Childcare Needs at Your Daycare Center
Families who enroll their children at your Early Childhood Education center will undoubtedly have a wide range of individual childcare needs and requests, some easier to fill than others. If you have ever been in a situation where a parent presents a childcare need that you don’t know how to handle, the following article is for you. In this guide, we offer three steps to navigating a variety of childcare requests from the families you serve. Read on to find out more.
What Is a Specific Childcare Need?
When considering the variety of requests you may get from parents regarding their child, you may run into childcare needs that are more common or easier to handle than others. For example, parents may enroll children with food allergies or dietary restrictions, medical needs, or other limitations and special accommodations. Parents may bring up potty training requests, naptime needs, or discipline concerns. Whether a specific childcare need is “unusual” or not is really a matter of perspective. Here are a few examples of situations for which you may want to have a ready response and a plan of action. (Note that these childcare requests should not be viewed as problematic to your childcare team, but as situations you may need to handle with advanced planning or a prepared response.)
Consider how you would respond to the following requests:
- Parents who want to enroll their one-year-old baby who is exclusively cloth-diapered
- Mother who wants to drop by your daycare during her lunchbreak to breastfeed her five-month-old
- Parents who want to enroll their toddler who has not followed a standard childhood vaccination schedule
- Father who wants your bilingual childcare team to converse with his preschooler only in their native language spoken at home
These examples are just that – samples of the variety of specific childcare needs you may run into as you work with families at your daycare center. Again, the needs themselves are not right or wrong, problematic, or even controversial, but they serve to illustrate an important point: you will need to have a plan in place for evaluating whether and how to accommodate a variety of childcare requests at your program.
What follows is a step-by-step approach for handling situations like these.
Step One – Evaluate Your Ability to Accommodate the Childcare Need
Even the best Early Childhood Education programs have limitations. In order to know whether you should accommodate a specific childcare need, you must first consider your team’s capacity to do so. Your ability to accommodate any childcare need will depend on several factors:
- What are the individual and collective abilities of your childcare team? Do your team members have the knowledge, skills, and experience to accommodate the childcare need? If not, can they reasonably be trained to do so?
- What resources of time and effort must be devoted to accommodating the childcare need?
- What are the rules and regulations set out by your state and local governing bodies in regard to this specific childcare need, if any?
- What are your own policies and procedures in regard to this specific childcare need, if any?
The first and most important step, then, is to decide whether the childcare request is something you have the ability to meet reasonably at your program.
Step Two – Evaluate Your Willingness to Accommodate the Childcare Need
Perhaps you will receive a parent request that you are legally and logistically able to accommodate, but you are unwilling to do so for any number of reasons. Consider the following as you assess your willingness to accommodate the childcare need:
- Will accommodating this childcare need serve to enhance your relationship with the parents and their child, the child’s relationship with care providers, and the child’s relationship with other children in your care, or hinder it?
- Will accommodating this childcare need for one family set a precedent for other families that you are reluctant to follow?
- Will accommodating this childcare need result in consequences that might jeopardize the safety, well-being, or health of the child concerned, other children in your care, or members of your team?
- Finally, is the childcare need in direct opposition to your model of childcare?
Your answers to these questions will be different in every circumstance. However, deciding if you are able and willing to accommodate a parent request for their child provides a solid framework for you to think through each situation as needed. Finally, once you have taken these steps, it’s time to communicate your stance to parents.
Step Three – Communicate Your Stance to Parents
Whether you decide to move forward with accommodating a childcare request or not, you need to be able to respectfully communicate your decision to parents.
If the answer to the request is no, tell parents so kindly and firmly. You may wish to provide reasoning or not. You could refer the parents to your Early Childhood Education center parent handbook, where all your policies and procedures are detailed. You could also recommend a childcare provider in the area that may be a better fit to meet the needs of the family. You do not have to feel guilty or embarrassed about your “No” answer. Every childcare program is different.
If the answer to the request is yes, give parents your affirmative response and let them know whether you can meet the childcare need as they present it, or whether you need to find a compromise that works for them and you. Some modifications may be necessary to fulfill a family’s request, and that’s okay. Settle on something that works for everyone.
Finally, we want to emphasize the importance of addressing as many of these childcare needs as possible in your parent handbook. This way, you can refer back to your policies when questions arise. It helps everyone stay on the same page.
We hope this guide is helpful to you as you navigate different childcare needs that come up with families at your childcare program.
Honest Buck Accounting is dedicated to helping Early Childhood Education business owners create a strong financial foundation and take the financial side of their business to the next level through a variety of professional accounting services. Schedule a call to speak with one of our experts.
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