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Absent Children.


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I have heard it all now. An irate parent phoned me to tell me that her child had caught a cold from the pre-school and is demanding her money back. She claims that when her husband brought the child in a staff member was showing all signs of having a cold. It was me that let the parent in because I remember him saying "why is she wetting herself since she came here".

I certainly haven't had a cold and neither have any of my staff. The parents are trouble anyway because they made strange comment when visiting.I can give the childs place away immediately and return the money due from now but I am reluctant to return monies otherwise.Building up immunity to colds is a natural thing. like catching chicken pox or head lice.

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Oh dear. What does it say in your contract with parents? Ours says they have to give half a term's notice or forego the fees - but as you say if you are able to offer the space to someone else then you won't be out of pocket so it might be possible to refund the fees from that point. In sending her child to you she has agreed to whatever your contract says, so you might need to remind her of the terms and conditions.

 

It does sound as if there is something else going on here though, and as hard as it might be to do, perhaps you need to have a talk about what else is worrying her - there may be all sorts of other issues that you don't know about. Is this situation irretrievable do you think - has she withdrawn her child already? Or do you think that if you talked to her and explained your philosophy she might reconsider?

 

Hope it turns out ok.

 

Maz

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But you know some parents are happier when you are in the wrong!!

 

Parents like that are no fun and sometimes its easier to let them have their way and say goodbye to them.

Hope you manage to sort it out amicably :oxD

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I agree, if you allow this parent to control you this way, word will spread and you'll end up with no fees at all when they decide to take a day off! I did once tell a parent who told me in no uncertain terms that her child had caught nits from 'some kid' at the group........well, ok, if you can show me the child's identification on any of the nits, I'll accept what you say :) she did laugh and all was well, but honestly, you can't, you really can't, give in to this!I think you need to say how sorry you are that the child was/is unwell, but of course at this time of year, everyone seems to have something or other and is part of life, unfortunately.keep it polite and matter of fact, but don't back down

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Has the child only just started at your setting?

Is this the parents first experience of sending their child to preschool? Have they attended and left other settings?

Are there any other issues that the parents may have? (the mention of the child wetting herself).

 

I would consider contacting the parents and asking them if they still want the place, also have ready an 'exit' questionairre, which could maybe open dialogue to discover any underlying issues. If these parents 'leave' with no 'closure' then they may discuss your setting with other prospective customers in a bad light, not good for PR. Also by finding out as much as possible this will help to reflect whether your procedures such as settling in, fee's contracts, terms of notice etc are understood by all parents.

 

I hope you get to the bottom of this, even if it turns out to be 'just that type of parent' then at least you know you have done your best to explore and reflect on the effectiveness of your procedures and customer services.

 

Peggy

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Some very good suggestions already, I would just add that I would not give money back under these circumstances, not even for an easy life. It could lead to all sorts of problems with parents saying they want their money back too.

 

Are parents made aware that fees are due even if the child is absent. I always photocopy our fees policy on the back of invoices so that there can be no doubt.

 

As has already been suggested, I would calmly, politely but firmly explain that to the parents. We'd be half empty the whole winter, someone usually has a cold.

 

A good idea also to try to get to the bottom of this with the parents to see if there are any underlying issues.

 

Good luck

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Excellent advice already....and I'm with the one's not to give the money back.

 

Doesnt' it really annoy you though....usually the parents send their children in with all sorts....when it suits eh!!!!

Good luck

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............and to continue the story they reported the matter to Ofsted. So I had to spend this morning explaining the situation. As everything had been recorded by me Ofsted just told me to ignore it and do nothing.

 

Oh what joy especially during half term.

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Yes they were being realistic for once.. I asked Ofsted if they could set up a department for me to call when I'm not happy about non-payment. We can only take civil action that we have to pay for.

This is the first complaint that I have had in 29 years and I am finding it hard to forget it.

I knew the parents were a pain when they came on induction visit, refusing to sign permission for various things etc. etc. etc.

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Try not to let the situation get you down - there will always be parents who cause upset and problems and make a meal out of things and it's a shame that we get so upset by it. Instead, try to look at it from the viewpoint that you've been working 29 years without a single complaint....that tells you that you really are doing an excellent job! :o

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Yes I am probably a bit sensitive at the moment because the saga of my APEL continues, work lost twice including testimonials, testimonials turned up in college after 6 months. No explanation given and now the certificate has gone AWOL. Cache say they have sent it to college but no-one can find it. I complained 2 weeks ago but have had response. Oh well I am sure I'll bounce back!!!!!!

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I hope you can draw a line under this now that Ofsted have spoken!!

I had a similar response from Ofsted 4 years ago after a similar situation (wonder if they're from the same family :o )

I KNEW from the first contact that the parents were "challenging" - late for appointments, hard to contact, disengaged during discussions, and performed the fastest drop-off of their child that I've ever seen!

Like you, I documented everything, anticipating trouble and, in time, they complained to Ofsted over a trivial matter. The diaries I kept and letters I wrote to the parents weren't included with their complaint but I showed them all to Ofsted when they arrived on my doorstep.

Ofsted took less than 10 minutes to investigate and judge there were no grounds for the complaint. The Inspector commented that she saw a number of "malicious" complaints each month, designed purely to stress the provider, and that I should put it down to experience.

Her advice was to listen to that little nagging voice that said something wasn't quite right when parents visit and that I always had the option NOT to offer the place - even if it meant turning away income!

She was right, I've trusted my instincts ever since.

It just goes to show it can happen to anyone and I hope you feel better about it tomorrow.

Nona

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