Protect the Privacy of Your Daycare Parents

Here are some Q & A about privacy issues and family child care.

Q: “What about parents who take pictures and post them on Facebook. I am liable for their actions?”

A: You should establish a policy about when parents can take pictures of their child and other children while in your program. In general, you shouldn’t permit this unless the other parents agree to have their child’s picture taken. If a parent who takes a picture does have the permission of the other parents then you are not liable for that parent posting the picture on Facebook. If the parent who takes a picture does not have the permission of the other parent, in violation of your program’s privacy policy, and your program knew about it and did nothing, then it’s possible you could be held liable for not protecting the parent’s privacy.

Q: “Can you speak to the use of Dojo app that schools use with direct access to parents regarding their children?”

A: These apps allow child care programs to share information about the children electronically with parents. If you use such apps you want to get written parent permission (both parents if they are around) and you want to set a policy about who in your program will have access to this information. I would discuss with parents any privacy concerns they might have before implementing such apps.

Q: “Can you also make a distinction between children's pictures being posted on a center's Facebook/social media page versus and employee's personal Facebook page?  Our program’s release would not cover an employee's page.”

A: I recommend having a separate privacy policy for employees. I would recommend not allowing employees to have a cell phone while with children. Your policy should say that employees are not permitted to take pictures of children without your and the parents’ permission. This includes posting any pictures of children on an employee’s personal Facebook page.

Q: “I took a picture today of our preschool activities. I didn’t get any of the children in the picture, only the arms. Their sleeves were showing but they were pulled up. Is that compliant?”

A: The issue with privacy is to satisfy parent expectations about confidentiality. I have heard about parents who were unhappy when a picture of their child was posted on Facebook even though the picture showed the back of the child. The parent complained because she could identify her child, even if no one else could. Because of this, I would be extremely cautious, even if you are only showing arms. Get written permission from parents to protect yourself.

Q: “I want to know about whether or not to use the social networks like Facebook or should I stay completely away from using them?”

A: Social media, including Facebook, can be a valuable tool in promoting your program to prospective parents and sharing information with current parents. You need to be very careful about not posting any information about parents or children without the permission of the parents. If you have staff they should not take pictures of children without your permission.

Q: “What about parents who take pictures and post them on Facebook. I am liable for their actions?”

A: You should establish a policy about when parents can take pictures of their child and other children while in your program. In general, you shouldn’t permit this unless the other parents agree to have their child’s picture taken. If a parent who takes a picture does have the permission of the other parents then you are not liable for that parent posting the picture on Facebook. If the parent who takes a picture does not have the permission of the other parent, in violation of your program’s privacy policy, and your program knew about it and did nothing, then it’s possible you could be held liable for not protecting the parent’s privacy.

Q: “We have family events and a parent takes a picture of their child at the event and post it on Facebook and another child is in the background. Are we liable?”

A: I would recommend having a privacy policy that asks parents for permission to have pictures of their child taken at such family events by other parents. It may be very difficult to exclude a child from photos if a parent doesn’t give permission. As long as parents know ahead of time that this is an event where pictures will be allowed to be taken, your program won’t be held liable.

Q: “We have a statement in our handbook that information may be shared with other programs we work with: programs include QRIS, Kindergarten, co-ops, behavior support program, early intervention. Is this adequate?”

A: Yes, if your handbook is clear about to whom you are sharing information with. Because privacy is a growing concern for parents, I would recommend creating a specific privacy policy that parents sign to reinforce this message. Parents can sign the page in your handbook with such a privacy policy.

 

 

 


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Tom Copeland

I've been the nation's leading trainer, author, and advocate on the business of family child care since 1981. I'm a licensed attorney and have presented hundreds of business workshops for family child care providers across the country. I answer thousands of calls and emails each year to help providers, tax professionals and trainers understand complex business and tax issues. Call me at 651-280-5991. Email me at tomcopeland@live.com. Visit me on Facebook. From 1981 to 2009 I worked at Resources for Child Caring in Minnesota (now called Think Small), where I was director of Redleaf National Institute for 15 years. I've written nine books on the business of family child care published by Redleaf Press, a division of Resources for Child Caring. I was on the board of directors of First Children's Finance, a non-profit organization providing low interest loans and consulting and technical assistance to help family child care providers suceed as a business. They operate in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Here are some YouTube videos of me talking about my work with this organization and the business of family child care. I graduated from Macalester College (BA) in 1972 and from William Mitchell College of Law (JD) in 1980. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota with my wife Diane and two cats, Duke and Ella.