What is Your Policy on the Release of Children?
To protect the children in your care you should have a formal process to release children at the end of their stay. The process should be clearly outlined in your contract and requires the parent or guardian of the child to sign them in and out before leaving. This seems like a lot of work especially if you know the parents or guardian. However, it only takes one misunderstanding to end your career in child care so I highly recommend the log.
You should require parents and guardians to authorize in writing who is allowed to pick up their children. Keep the authorization in your files and require that it be updated yearly. Never accept a telephone authorization and make certain that you clearly indicate this policy in your contract.
One of the most difficult aspects of managing the release of children is when parents and guardians are going through a divorce and when one of the parents or guardian has parental control over the child or children. When this happens you may wish to decide if you wish to continue offering care to the child or children as there is a potential for miscommunication that can lead to a child being released when they shouldn’t be and refusing to release a child when the parent or guardian is in fact within their rights to do so. If you have ever been caught in the middle of adults who do not get along you can appreciate how sensitive the subject is when their children are involved.
If you decide to go forward and provide care it would be prudent to ask for the divorce decree and parental rights for your files. If there is any ambiguity it is important to spell out in front of both parents the process required for picking up and dropping off the child or children. You then need to review the agreement with your staff to make certain they understand the process and any limitations.
Be prepared that over the course of the year there will be instances when both parents including the parent or guardian with parental rights will call or text you permission to allow the other parent to pick up the child or children outside of the agreement that you have in writing. Just as we discussed above, never accept a telephone, email or text authorization. The change must be approved in person and in writing for your file. This is one area where a mistake can be a business killer so please be careful!
Chris Raders can be contacted at Ted Hamm Insurance for more helpful tips and answers to questions regarding child care. Call him at 805-238-1818