As a family child care provider and business owner, you are responsible for setting up your program's vacation and holiday calendar, and ensuring that you and your staff take adequate time off during the year. Giving yourself time to rest and recharge will help guard against burnout, so please make sure to practice this important form of self-care!
Determining Your Calendar
Just like there are a million ways an environment can be created, there are a million different schedule arrangements that can be created.
- Some programs opt to follow their local school district's calendar
- Some programs create their own calendar
- In general, it is safe to assume parents will expect you to be closed all major and federal holidays
- Family child care providers frequently take a longer break over the winter holidays and a break during the summer (typically 1-2 weeks)
- Communication is so important! Before enrolling a family, make sure to share with them your program calendar so they know what to expect and can ensure your closures will work with them. Keep the calendar on your program website up to date, because your Parent Handbook will director parents to look at this calendar for closures. You can edit your calendar here: https://www.wonderschool.com/admin/myschool/settings/calendar
- Know your audience
- If you are serving mainly working families, or families who use subsidies, multiple extended closures may be hard for them to accommodate
- Remember that most subsidy programs do not reimburse you for times children are not in attendance
- With ample notice, some families may opt to plan their own vacations at the same time as yours
- Remember that you are allowed to be away from your program for up to 20% of each day/year (check your state's licensing regulations). If you have an assistant and/or sub lined up, you can take vacation without closing your whole program! However, you will need to communicate in advance with parents about who will be responsible for watching the children.
- It is typical for families' tuition to remain consistent throughout the year, even during closures (i.e., they do not receive a discount if you are closed between Christmas and New Years).
- However, if you are planning to be closed more than 2 weeks at a time, Wonderschool recommends prorating tuition for that month. Up to 2 weeks at a time is in line with industry standards, beyond that may be hard for families to accommodate.
How to Communicate with Families
You may get questions from families about what they are expected to pay when your program is closed, or when parents take vacations. Here are a few key points you can share with them:
- You can let them know that holiday/closures were taken into account when setting your tuition rates so that you can charge a consistent amount each month.
- The Parent Handbook has a section on absences, in the Private Pay Tuition section, that reads as follows: "I/We understand that monthly tuition (any non-subsidy payment) is due on the 24th day of the previous month. Tuition is due each month with no deductions for any absences, holidays, illness, or closures due to inclement weather, power outages, or other situations beyond our control. Tuition is due regardless of a child’s absence from the program for any reason, and is required to hold a child’s space."
- In your program, families are not paying for care on an as-used basis, but rather are enrolling as members of your school and community, which you are working on building to be stable and sustainable.
- Another way to think about it is like rent or a mortgage – you pay to hold the entire space, even if you go on vacation or aren't in it every day. Because your enrollment capacity is small, you rely on your families consistent attendance to help you build a stable environment for them and their children.
- If you do decide to waive your policy, we encourage you to think about it more broadly than in terms of one specific family. Meaning, if you waive tuition for one family and they mention it to another family, are you willing to extend this same waiving of fees to all families? If yes, do you have a good understanding of the impact this will have on your revenue? Your Partnership Manager can help you dig into this if need be. Our goal is for you to make informed decisions, so please reach out any time if you need help with this
Sample email to parents:
Our new year is off to a great start and we have so been enjoying working with each of your children. Thank you for your continued partnership!
We wanted to take a few moments to share information about our summer break schedule.
Our program will be closed for its summer break July 2nd - July 13th. Many families find this is a time for them to enjoy their own family vacations and we hope you will be able to do the same! As a reminder, payments are processed monthly even when closures occur as vacations are factored into tuition rates when we initially set them.
Please remember you can access our parent handbook online any time here: [insert link to parent handbook] to further review our policies and procedures. Additionally, our calendar can be found online here: [insert your website].
Thank you again for your wonderful partnership!
The [School Name] Team