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Unhappy Parent - Advice Please!


Deb
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Hi everyone

 

Had a problem today, wondered what you would have done in this situation.

 

Earlier this week, a committee parent asked us if we would be able to take her child 5/10 minutes early, 4 days a week, for the next 6 months as she is starting a new job. We said we would discuss it our our staff meeting (today).

 

Although we felt inclined to be helpful, we felt that this would set a precedent and other parents would follow so felt we couldn't help even though we would like to. We told the parent this, and that it would take us over our 4 hour sessional registration. The parent accepted this and even said that if we opened on time she could probably make it on time.

 

Had spoken briefly to chair person earlier in the week whose first impression was as above.

 

However, at the end of the session the parent bent chair person's ear as she was furious and felt that as a committee member there should be give and take, and that she should get something out of being on the committee (apart from having a setting to send her child!) The parent has said she is resigning which is not good news as we are really struggling to get anybody for a committee at our AGM at the end of the month.

 

What would you have done in this situation? What should we do?

 

Hope you can offer some advice looking from the outside.

 

Many thanks

Deb

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Guest tinkerbell

I agree with all you have done Debs but that doesn't solve the problem.

Could the parent not find another parent to drop her child off to in the morning who would bring the children together.?

Tinkerbellx

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Being a committee member doesn't mean that you should be bending the rules for her. If the extra time takes you out of your registered hours then you have definately done the right thing. It would be different if you were only open 3 hours and the extra time wouldn't make a difference. I assume you explained the reasoning behind your decision.

Linda

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Dear Deb

 

I agree with all the other replies that you have had. By allowing one child to do this could open the flood gates! And as Jenni B said you're insurance probably will not cover you for the children outside of hours. There is also the question of Health and Safety as either side of a session staff are usually preparing/clearing up/ moving furniture etc and are not available to supervise a child.

Good Luck

 

Sue

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Hello Deb.

 

I totally agree with your decision and as Linda rightly pointed out, just because they are on the committee, does not mean they should be allowed to bend the rules.

 

I know it is only 5/10 minutes, but I believe if you give an inch, some people will take a mile, and before you know it, children will be arriving at silly times before the session starts.

 

You did absolutely the right thing, in that you considered your registration conditions and insurance regulations and as the parent's request would be in breach of both, you were right to say no.

 

Hope the parent manages to see things from your point of view!

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I have to agree with everyone else in that you did the right thing. My son attends the preschool where I work, among his sessions is one morning and one afternoon when I'm working also. After the first week we've already had people asking if they could also leave their children early 'like that boy'. I explained to them that he's my son and under my personal supervision until the session starts. I'm waiting to see what happens next as neither seemed very happy about it.

Karrie

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I agree with you too Debs, as you can see we all have these queries, I have had mums at the school where my children go ask me to take their children from there to nursery for them for various reasons it becomes awkward as some are friends, but I still have to go to work and get the setting ready, not be responsible for someone else's child, and our insurance would be affected.

People really shoudn't ask - I never have with my children, there is always a way to juggle everything that is what us woman are good at (sorry stereotypical comment - but true!) :D

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I totally agree with comments so far. We use the insurance excuse when on occasions parents have asked if they can do this for 'just one day'. Our parents queue up outside and we let them in at 9am on the dot :o . If it is raining we invite them in straight away but insist that they stay with their child until 9am because we are not insured. Having been on the committee myself it can be frustrating when you give so much to pre-school but we make it clear to our committee that we lead by example and we cannot make exceptions for anyone. At the end of the day we are not a babysitting service.

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Stick to your guns Deb, we had a parent resign (and another in sympathy) because she couldnt have the sessions she wanted, again she thought being on the committee gave her special rights.

I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that, good though some committee's are, the members dont necessarily have a childcare background or any wish for one. Most of them are coerced onto the committee by members who cant wait to resign or by staff who know they are needed if not for anything else at least to keep the place running officially. Working with a committee is difficult if they dont attend courses, which hardly any do, so staff find they are having to relay information and in my certain experience dont always appriciate the seriousness of what they are being told. I'm on the committee of my old playgroup, I know that should the staff require anything I'll be in a much better position than some of the other members to help/advise/say 'yes or 'no' purely because I've been there and done it (even had a T-shirt once) and have a firmer understanding of the rules they have to work to. :) It was once suggested to me by the chair that I dont do paperwork during a session, 'could I not do the observations at home?' Kidnap the children perhaps!? :)

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Hi Debs, I agree with comments about same rules apply for everyone and that being a committee member doesn't enable 'individual perks'.

The only thing I would suggest if this came about in the future is to say you would take the request to a committee meeting and not make the decision at a staff meeting. On paper, the committee are the 'employers' of the staff, they are the ones responsible for such decisions and ensuring the National Standards, Insurance conditions, parents needs are all met.

 

Just taking the parents point of view, she asked for a need to be met which she now feels hasn't been, so is therefore aggrieved. Her threat to leave the committee is her way of showing this.

 

If it had gone to the committee, as the supervisor I would have advised the committee to consider the implications ( as you rightly did at your staff meeting) of changing the start time for just one child and how this may impact on other parents feelings of equal opportunities. The feeling that other parents may want to start earlier may suggest that this is in fact a 'service' need for more than one parent. I would then have suggested that the committee ask all parents if the start times need to be considered for change, is there an opportunity here to expand to offering a breakfast club ( if this is viable with regard to access to premises, staffing etc) The committee could do a survey and then consider the decision about start times that meet all parents needs. By doing it this way you would be acknowledging that the parents' request was a valid one but also making decisions from the perspective of the needs of all users, and not making decisions based on individual needs which are not offered to everyone, thus compromising your equal opportunities policy.

 

Aggrieved parents are bad for morale and 'word of mouth' advertising, hopefully she will calm down and see that the staff decision was not a personal one against her.

In future, I would pass the buck, so to speak, these are decisions committee members should have to make,also if committee members are involved in decision making tasks like these, it gives them a sense of worth, that their positions are important and they have a part to play in deciding how and what the preschool offers it's service users. It also helps to seperate the staff role as 'carers & educators' from the committee role of 'management of service'. Staff then do not have to get involved in disputes of this kind, another example is disputes over fees etc, this should be kept away from staff. then parents relationships with staff is, as it should be, only about the children.

 

 

 

Good luck.

 

Peggy

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Guest MaryEMac

I also agree with comments made by everyone else. Last year one of the playgroup assistants had a child at playgroup and had to bring her with her to set up. I was asked by another parent if she could bring her daughter in early because her firm had been taken over and the new bosses said that she had to be in at 9a.m. prompt or she wouldn't have a job. We open at 9 and the mum then had 3 miles to travel into the town. She said that her daughter would play with the other child and be no trouble. Obviously I had to say no because of insurance and the fact of movinfg stuff around. The mum was okay about it and found another job where she could work flexible hours. It is a difficult situation to be put in though.

 

Mary

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I agree with all the other comments. I had the similiar thing with the first committee i worked for they wanted church children to get priority and I told them that equal opportunities is that every one has the same rights. they didn't like it, but they got the point. unfortunately they sacked me a week later for going against the committee but thats another long story!!!!!!!!

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Thanks ever so much for all your replies and informed comments.

 

Didn't see Mum today as a friend brought her child in. Had wanted to reassure her that we wanted to help but couldn't.

 

We also felt, after the event, that this should have been a committee decision. The difficulty was the parent needed an answer. It would have been better if she had put this question to us when she first knew about the job last term so that we could have had an opportunity to bring it to the Committee at the last meeting. The next one isn't until the end of this month, which is the AGM and we need to find members from somewhere. Most of the current committee's children have moved onto School too so can't wait to come off (I know I couldn't!).

 

As Rea said, the committee are largely coerced onto the committee just to keep the place going, one or two are supportive of fund raising or organising spring cleaning for example but understandably the committee have little working knowledge of the rules and regulations we work to and in reality effectively just rubber stamp the decisions made by staff. I should point out that our Chair does take her role very seriously and is very professional and caring but she feels swamped by the responsibilites which she feels she shoulders largely unsupported by the committee. She does a very good job of looking to the future.

 

We were in a real mess the year before last with the Treasurers paperwork as he didn't have the time to do it, so I was employed to do the admin (though I say so myself I've done a good job but then I should have with the hours I've put in) :o but it also means that the managment and carer/educator roles are blurred, I do find it hard sometimes especially with questions over fees wearing both hats! So even our Treasurer is in name only.

 

Peggy is right in that we will have go to the committee with this issue, ascertain whether there is demand for a breakfast club to ensure that all parents/carers have the same equal opportunity. Before that we will have to register for full day care. which is on our plan for the future as the way forward to meet the needs of offering morning and afternoon sessions etc.

 

It occured to us today when parents were late picking up (some are persistantly late) that they are doing the same in reverese! Again we will have to address this with the committee (one of whom is the worst offender) in the interests of equality and fareness. We cannot charge late parents as this would also take us over the 4 hours (our session is 3 hours 55 minutes as we extended our hours to include lunch club!) and parents could argue that they could drop off in the morning early if they paid!!

 

On another point, we have requested information from SureStart about forming a co-operative as getting a committee becomes more and more difficult with each year that passes (frankly I don't blame them for not wanting the responsiblity).

 

I think I've rambled on for long enough, thanks for listening! Once again, many thanks for your replies.

 

Deb

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Hi Deb, I know that what I advise doesn't always work 'in practice' and I understand and empathise with your 'committee' status. I used to work with a committee. :o

Now I am the owner, I must admit I would love the opportunity to 'pass the buck, or the worry' to a committee, sometimes.

But then on the other hand, I now do have the final say of everything ( even though I do try to consult parents on most every issue).

 

The co-operative idea sounds like a way forward, and wishing you luck for your future plans of expansion. Have a look out for local funding, I'm sure there must be some out there for you.

 

Peggy

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  • 4 weeks later...

Deb, there is always light at the end of the tunnel you know.

 

We had a committee which took their individual roles on just to help us out and keep us open, but the novelty soon wore off and they all started to leave/resign.

 

After offering the roles to the current parents (with no takers) we disbanded the committee with the help of our PLA worker and the chair at the time.

 

We were made redundant by the committee and used this money to 'buy' the business from them. The money they made was donated to the HAPS fund (via the PLA)

 

The pre-school stayed open with the same staff members and the children noticed no change.

 

The PLA dont advertise the fact that this can be done and it was all a bit cloak and dagger, but the option is open to you none-the-less.

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