Child care is a profession, not a babysitting service. And, as a business, there are certain things that the care professionals would like everyone to know. Here are 10 things the rest of us need to know about the challenging and rewarding career of being a child care provider. (Tips were provided from the Child Care Forum and seasoned providers.) Above all, remember that mutual R-E-S-P-E-C-T goes a long way!
1. Child Care Is A Business--Not A Babysitting ServiceChild care is a business and providers are professionals; please don't refer them as babysitters. As such, it is reasonable to expect that care providers will have established rules, hours and pay rates that keep the door open and quality care provided to all. Parents should be appreciative that a provider takes time to create a handbook, contract, and other details that help to foster communications and understanding.
2. Providers Have The Right To Charge Late Fees; Other Applicable ChargesProviders have the right to add fees if parents are late picking up children, may charge even if a child is not taken to care on a particular day (the slot is still being held for this child), and should charge families in advance and not make exceptions. Why? They often get taken advantage of by families if they don't. Providers are empathetic to the kids in their care and their families; however, sob stories will not pay their bills. After all, would you work for free?
3. Hear The Calling? Calling For Bills To Be Paid Like Anyone ElseChild care providers have a "calling" for caring for kids. But, I also like the Child Care Forum's moderator (Symphony) definition of calling. She says: "I also had a calling. The gas company was calling. The phone company was calling. My mortgage company was calling. They all wanted to be paid and I needed to make enough to pay them." After all, parents are using care providers usually because they are working themselves to also collect an income.
4. Care Providers Are NOT HousekeepersDo not expect care providers to do your child's laundry and wash their cups or items. Professional care providers don't have the time to do loads of laundry or wash dishes--and, would you rather them do housekeeping work or care for your kids? That's not to say that providers won't sometimes wash soiled clothing, rinse mud off shoes, or wash a sippy cup. But, parents should realize that a provider is being gracious and is going above what is required.
5. Boundaries and Rules Are Good For Kids & Their ParentsParents and providers should be clear on rules surrounding transportation (some providers take kids to the park or library; others do not for liability reasons), food that is served, discipline approaches taken, and other care issues. Parents and providers should be comfortable with the provider's rules. If not, they have a choice to go elsewhere, and providers have the choice not to keep a child.
6. Treat Providers' Home Like Your OwnMi casa es su casa. The well-known Spanish phrase of "my house is your house" often does not extend to children in care, much to the chagrin of child care professionals. Parents won't let a child with muddy shoes walk on their carpet, yet the same parents will bring their child into the home with mud (or worse) on the bottoms of the shoes. Respect of property and a person's home is important aspect of a successful child care arrangement.
7. Cost Is Well-Deserved: You Get What You Pay For!The same parents who seem incensed at a weekly child care rate of $75 or $125 think nothing of spending excessive money on personal items, clothes, cars, etc.--yet say their child is their most important asset. Parents should certainly consider cost when making a child care choice. At the same time, they should consider the quality of care and what they are getting for their money, and not grumble about having to pay for the service they receive.
8. Leave Providers Out of Domestic Spats and Custody Battles, PLEASE!Don't put a provider in the middle of spouse disagreements, custody battles, or other domestic concerns that don't involve child care. Providers lament being told, "if my ex comes for my child, don't you dare let my kid leave." Providers act in accordance with signed agreements of who can and cannot bring/pick up a child, and this is not a day-to-day variance. If there is a court order, the provider needs to have a copy. But, don't put them in the middle please!
9. Scrapes and Scratches Will HappenAccidents will happen. It's Rule 101 of the Kid Book. So, why is it that parents will become outraged sometimes when their child gets scratched, bumps a knee, or even, regretfully, bitten? Providers do their very best to keep kid play safe and positive, and to have all children be best of friends. But, falls and scrapes do happen. Just like they do at YOUR house.
10. What Do You Mean, "Do As I Say But Not As I Do?"To the chagrin of many a provider, some parents dictate rules that are hard to abide by (such as absolutely no sweets), only to see a child handed a cookie as they leave. While parents certainly should have a say over food or certain rules, a provider must be able to equitably provide meals, snacks and discipline. Obviously, allergies or healthy eating are a given; it's the inconsistencies that cause pause.
Do you agree with these provider tips to parents?
Do you agree with these lists of what providers want parents to know? Why or why not? Do you have other suggestions as well? Parents, do you have suggestions of your own? Remember--mutual understanding, respect, and clear communications are the key. Above all, care providers take their jobs seriously, and our children are the ones that are rewarded with proper care and nurturing.