How to End a Childcare Relationship
Ending a relationship with a childcare provider can feel like getting a divorce, especially if the relationship has lasted a long time. While the reason for ending the relationship with your childcare provider might be simple, (for example in a case where the provider is no longer the right fit for your child’s specific needs, or in the case of an unavoidable circumstance such as moving away), there may be cases where the reasons are more complicated. Ending the childcare provider’s role in these cases can be challenging.
There is always a fear or possibility that the caregiver might try to retaliate or make it difficult for you to get out of the agreement. It’s also hard for the child. Children bond deeply with their designated caregivers at a young age, and it can be difficult for them emotionally when such an important person suddenly disappears. No matter the reason for your childcare breakup, it’s important to make the transition to life without the caregiver as smooth as possible for your child.
We have some tips to make it easier to terminate care with the person or daycare center you’ve been relying on and how to move forward.
Tips on Terminating Your Childcare Relationship
Ending Daycare Services
If you’re looking to end your daycare services with a professional company, you’re going to want to put it in writing. A daycare termination letter is usually enough. The form of the writing may depend upon the particular childcare arrangement and the circumstances surrounding the decision to terminate. If you’re calling it quits due to a move, a simple paragraph giving your daycare center notice of your child’s last day should be enough when it comes to a daycare termination letter.
Check your daycare contract for notice policies that your childcare provider may have. Typically, centers require two to four weeks' advance notice of terminating a child's enrollment. The center may ask you to pay tuition upfront (upon enrollment) to cover that notice period. If you remove your child from the facility before the expiration of the enrollment period, you will forfeit the payment.
Childcare arrangements that end on a positive note require less detail than relationships that are terminated for a negative reason. If you are terminating the relationship due to misconduct, abuse, or negligence by the caregiver, you should state that in your notice. You may also want to contact your local department of health if you suspect that your child’s well-being was not being cared for at the daycare setting.
Dealing with a Home Daycare "Breakup"
Home daycares can be great because they often offer personalized childcare. Children can develop tight relationships in these settings that can become difficult to break. If you’re looking to end your relationship with your home daycare provider, it’s important to clearly explain the reason.
Pick a time to talk face to face to the person in charge of the home daycare privately. Be professional and polite when explaining your reasoning, and take care in making sure that they understand that they aren’t to blame. Of course, if they have done something wrong in your eyes, it’s important to let them know.
You also want to give ample notice. Home daycares often have fewer children and rely heavily on their income and a one-week notice is going to hurt. Removing your child without notice can provide a hardship for your daycare provider.
It’s important to talk things through with your child. Explain the transition in a way that they will understand, and take great care in ensuring that your child does not feel like the transition is a form of punishment. If you are struggling to understand your toddlers feelings in relation to the transition, emotion flashcards that your little one can point to can be a great help.
Ending Family Childcare
If a family member has been taking care of your child or acting as their nanny, it can be hard to tell them you no longer want or need them to look after your child.
While you don’t have to put it in writing, you do want to handle these situations gently. Clearly explain your reasons and that you’ve appreciated their help up to this point. While this may be hard for your caregiver, hopefully, they’ll understand and help you do whatever is in the best interest of your child.
Ending a Relationship with a Nanny
Having a nanny living in your home can be a great perk and provide the ultimate convenience. But, when you want to terminate that situation, difficulties can quickly arise.
Firstly, be sure to have a plan in place that includes finding a suitable replacement or alternative childcare plans before you let your nanny go. This will help make the transition easier for you and your child. When you need to end your relationship with your nanny, explain your issues clearly and politely so that they are completely aware of your reasons for letting them go.
When ending a live-in caregiver situation, you may not want to leave the nanny alone in your home once you have told them that you are terminating their employment. Try to time the termination so you can be home for several days to supervise their departure. If that is not possible, you could arrange for another person that you trust to be present in your home while the nanny gathers their belongings.
If you have relocated a nanny from out of state, or if you have an au pair from another country, you may even be obligated to contribute to the costs they incur in returning home, such as the airfare. If you go through an agency for your in-home childcare, be sure to find out exactly what your liability is regarding termination before the caregiver arrives.
It is possible that your nanny will not have the means to return home or even to have a place to stay right away. In those cases, you might make the departure go more smoothly if you offer to put them up in a local hotel for a night or two. This could make your life easier, but more than anything, avoiding conflict as much as possible will make the transition for your child smoother.
Even if you have hired a nanny who never bothered to show up for their first day of work, you should send a written termination notice stating it is effective immediately. This will avoid the possibility of the nanny later claiming that any sort of payment or benefits is owed to them as your employee.
What Should I Do If My Nanny Retaliates?
There have been some cases where disgruntled nannies have retaliated for being fired by notifying the state department of children's services or labor board falsely that the former employer either harassed the nanny or abused the children.
One of the best ways to avoid any possibilities of false accusations is to keep complete records. Keep a log containing not only the nanny’s job performance during her employment, but also any injuries that your child may have suffered during her employment. Include dates and names of anyone else who would have personal knowledge of any incidents, either of injury to your child or misconduct by the nanny.
Put any complaint you may have about the nanny's performance in writing. If the nature of the complaint is serious enough that a repeat occurrence would cause you to fire the nanny, be sure to put the complaint in the form of a disciplinary warning. Give a copy of the warning to your nanny. Also, have her sign another copy with an acknowledgment that she has received the written warning.
Sexual Harassment Claims
To keep safe from a charge of sexual harassment by the nanny, take great care to maintain your relationship with her on a professional level. Sometimes, especially with a live-in nanny or a working relationship in which the nanny is considered one of the family, the line between familiarity and impropriety can feel a bit blurry.
In general, federal laws that prohibit sexual harassment apply only to employers with at least 15 employees; therefore, they will not apply to a nanny situation. However, some states have human rights laws of their own that make essentially all employers liable for harassing conduct of a sexual nature.
Examples of conduct that may amount to sexual harassment include:
- Overt sexual advances
- Obscene comments
- Language or jokes (verbal or written)
- Unwanted physical contact, such as grabbing, rubbing against, or other touching
- Personal questions of a sexual nature
- Display of obscene or pornographic material in the work area of the employee.
State laws against sexual harassment usually also prohibit retaliation by an employer if the employee reports harassment to the proper state agency.
Typical penalties for a finding of liability for sexual harassment are:
- Restitution for lost wages or benefits
- Reinstatement if the employee has been wrongfully terminated
- Punitive damages
Dealing With Your Child's Reaction
Whatever your own feelings about the ending of your business relationship with the childcare provider, don’t ignore the effects that the situation may have on your child. Even if you dislike the nanny or daycare worker, be careful not to underestimate how much they mean to your child. Be prepared for an adjustment period.
A young child can become fond of a caregiver fairly quickly, especially if it’s a family member, so it’s important to be sensitive to your child's attitude toward the termination.
Not only could your child be sad to see the person leave (or to be removed from an outside daycare), but they may actually come to feel insecure. They may fear that other people close to them may leave too. It’s your job as a parent to soothe these fears, be sensitive, and explain the issues.
Setting Up a New Provider
When you decide to end a caregiver relationship, be sure you have a reliable and suitable replacement ready. Give your child time to adjust and warm up to any new situation. If possible, let your child meet the person or visit the new center before making final arrangements. This will make them feel like they’re part of the plan and it will let you know if your new provider is a good fit.
- When it comes to terminating a childcare relationship, you want to be careful to do it in a way that won’t incidentally hurt your child.
- Whenever possible, put any childcare terminations in writing. This will help to protect you.
- Always be careful when terminating nannies or any other live-in childcare providers - depending on your agreement, they may technically be your employee and are therefore entitled to certain rights.