The moment of truth has come. You are ready to tell a parent who wants to enroll in your family child care business you don't want her child in your program.
What do you tell her? I do recommend...
I think the best answer is, “I don’t think this is the best place for your child at this time.”
Or, “I don’t think my program is a good fit for your child.”
Or, “I don’t think my program can meet the needs of your child.”
If the prospective client asks for specific reasons, don’t elaborate. If you feel that you must say more, you can add, “It’s not personal. I try to make decisions based on what’s best for each child, and I have a feeling that your child would be better off in another child care program.” The parent can’t argue with your intuition.
If you give the parent a reason, the parent may feel insulted. She may even think you are discriminating against her if you say the wrong thing.
Don’t say anything that is critical of the child or her parent. Keep it simple. You are not the best caregiver for every child in the world. Don’t accept a child if you feel that you can’t provide the best possible care. Don’t be afraid to say “no” even if you have no more than a feeling that it’s not a good match. Go with your gut.
Note: You can say “no” to a parent for any reason or no reason. The exception is that you can’t say “no” based on a person’s race, sex, religion, ethnic background, national origin, or disability. So, you can turn down a family because of where they work, but not because they practice the Muslim religion.
I do not recommend...
Unfortunately, many child care providers have trouble following my advice. Some will tell a parent, “I’m waiting to hear from another family who I interviewed earlier this week. If she calls me back I won’t have a space for your child.”
There is a problem with this response. What happens if a week later this parent sees an ad you posted on Craigslist or on your Facebook page? The parent is likely to conclude that you weren’t honest with her and feel insulted. She may make a complaint to your licensor. So, I don’t recommend doing this.
Some providers would enroll the child for a trial period to see if it will work out. I don’t recommend doing this if you have an initial strong feeling that it won’t work. It will make it even harder to say “no” at the end of the trial period.
How have you handled saying “no” to a parent?
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