child being picked up from daycare

How to Handle Late Pickups from Daycare

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Running a home daycare involves long hours and hard work. There is nothing worse than late pickups at the end of a super long day.

kids playing on the outside playground at daycare

I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else for my life’s work. But I don’t love begging for payment, late payment, and especially late pickups. I work hard, give my all, and put it all out there every day. When I close at 5:00, I’m pooped and ready for a break.

But what can you do with the parent that thinks, well, they are there anyway, I can take the long way home? It can be difficult to make people understand that you have plans after work, you have a family of your own, or that you’re just plain exhausted.

Two or three minutes seems like nothing to them, but they wouldn’t want to work over their allotted time over and over again. They wouldn’t expect the post office or bank to stay open for them. And they wouldn’t. Your home daycare business is no different. You aren’t a doormat, you’re a professional.

Having home daycare policies and contracts in place is the best place to start. You may think it’s silly to make a contract for your daycare parents to sign, but this is a professional business and you’ll get a whole lot further if your expectations are clear from the beginning.

Creating a contract and going over it with parents is the best way to lay out a good plan to begin with and set yourself up for success with each family. Check out the highlighted link to find a sample and editable form you can use to make yours.

Daycare late pickup policy

Start with your pickup policy and make sure it’s added to the policy book you have. During a daycare interview, it’s important to bring this policy to your new parent’s attention. I always like to say, I work hard, and I’ll give all I have for your child, but I don’t want to beg for my paycheck or wait for it, and I have a life, so I want you to pick up on time.

My hours are in my contract, and you need to stick to them.

Check out all of our wonderful helps for home daycare providers on etsy here.

Here are a ton more helpful printables you can get to make your business easier!

And more helpful tools for providers here. I wish I would have had access to these years ago, they are such a blessing!

Late pick up fee daycare

Should I charge a late pick up fee for daycare? I don’t know. I used to have one in my contract, but I never enforced it. So start there. Are you going to actually make people pay it before they can return? The answer for me is no, so I took it out. Everything in my contract is serious, and I stick to it.

Another thing about late pick up fees is I don’t want money, I want your child picked up on time. I don’t want to be paid $50 to be inconvenienced for 5 extra minutes. During the 9.5 hours I was open, I gave my all. Now I’m done. If you want a dollar a minute, then charge that. I want $100 a minute minimum. So if I added it back into my contract, I’d have to say that.

If you want to charge $15 for every 5 minutes, then do that. Whatever you choose, you just have to stick to it every time, or your contract doesn’t seem serious. What are 5 minutes of your family time worth? What are 15 minutes? What is an hour?

My hours are not negotiable. I said I close at 5 and I close at 5. You have to decide what’s important to you. But I don’t want one single person to think, oh, I can just pay her $50 extra dollars and fart around a little longer. I want people to respect my time and not do late pickups

clock on the wall

Daycare late pickup fee notice

If you decide to enforce a late fee for late pickups, how do you tell the parents? You can say at the door, you’re late and that will be $15 due before drop off tomorrow. Or you can text them, don’t forget your late fee of $5 when you come in the morning. You can make out a letter and hand it to them. You do whatever makes you comfortable. And whatever works for you.

I had a provider tell me yesterday that she wanted to change her policies to only taking full-time kids because she had a rotating child that was part-time and she could never fill the empty days. She didn’t want to upset the family, and I totally get that. But…

Are that family’s food and clothing more important than her food and clothing? NO! Are that family’s feelings and satisfaction more important than her joy? NO! She can tell them they can either pay for the full spot or she will fill it and they can find someone else who wants to get shafted because that’s not her anymore.

She cried and told me that was so true. Another provider I knew who was a single mom barely making it was giving discounts to parents that complained about her prices. I was like, girl, you’re barely feeding your kids? You can’t tell me that their kids are more important to you than yours? I know that’s not true. So no more discounts. She was like, oh, you’re right. I didn’t think about it that way.

So if your time is valuable, what is your price? Set that price and ENFORCE it. If people don’t like paying it, they won’t come late again. Do what works for you!

Here are a ton more helpful printables you can get to make your business easier!

And more helpful tools for providers here. I wish I would have had access to these years ago, they are such a blessing!

Sample late pick up letter

Here is some sample wording for late pickups you are welcome to use. Any part of it or all of it is yours to do as you need. There is also a free printable version at the end that you can print out to use. I hope it helps!

Dear Parent,

This is your friendly reminder that I have a strict pick-up policy and closing time in my home daycare. When you registered your child, you signed my contract stating the hours of operation and agreed to those terms.

My policy states children must be picked up by 5:00 pm. I charge $1/per minute starting at 5:00.

I understand that emergencies arise. I also understand that traffic can be challenging or hectic. However, I expect all children to be picked up on time. Traffic issues do not excuse the late fee that will be charged. When your child is picked up late, I am required to remain working, therefore, unable to keep my commitments.

I absolutely love caring for your child but need you to honor my policy to continue doing so. Thank you for your commitment to be on time from here forward.


Child’s Name____________________________ Date__________ Parent Signature__________________________________

child waiting to be picked up from daycare

Free printable late pick up letter

Obviously, if this continues to be a problem you can’t fix, you may have to terminate care. This is a last resort, but if you need to do it, here are some ideas on how to terminate daycare for a child.

For more information about how to open and run a successful daycare business, check this out. And for more daycare provider tips, click here.

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