The holidays are here again! With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and a whole host of holidays in December and January, we’re coming up to the time of year when preschools and child care providers start thinking about hosting parties and holiday events. If you host yearly events or are thinking of trying it, read on to find out how you can plan a fun event while still protecting your business and the children in your care.
Holiday festivities can be a blast; candy, costumes, crafts, and the relationships you build with your clients can really make your preschool or home child care stand out. Unfortunately, hosting a party as a licensed provider also comes with increased liability risk and a higher potential for unwanted accidents. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to help minimize those risks and make sure your business will keep going strong for years to come. Here are the top 5 things you should be doing if you plan to host an event at your preschool or child care.
- Carry professional liability insurance
If you’re a commercial child care or preschool, you likely already carry this, but many home child cares currently don’t carry any professional liability insurance. This can pose a real risk to your business. Professional liability insurance covers you in the event of a lawsuit related to your child care. If a parent sues you due to an injury to their child or an allegation of neglect or abuse, even if the allegation is untrue, your liability insurance will pay for your legal defense and pay any settlements that come from the lawsuit. If you choose not to carry insurance, this will all come out of your own pocket. Even if you win the lawsuit, the cost of legal defense can add up to quite a lot of money. The minimal cost of liability insurance is more than worth the peace of mind that it affords you. When hosting events, be sure to call your liability insurance company to make sure you’re covered during the event.
- Carry property insurance
Property insurance can include home owners insurance, renters insurance, or commercial property insurance. Hosting an event means you will have parents and other members of your child care children’s families on your property for an extended period of time, which increases the risk of someone falling or getting injured on your property. Having a proper insurance policy will give you coverage for any medical bills that arise from injuries as well as coverage for any lawsuits that may arise from someone injuring themselves on your property. As with liability insurance, be sure to call your property insurance company before your event to see if there are any extra steps you need to take.
- Call Licensing
It’s always a good idea to call your licensing analyst prior to hosting an event to make sure you always stay in compliance. Let them know the type of event you plan to host, and ask him or her if there are any extra precautions you need to take. Should you have a sign-in sheet so you know who was present? Do you need to send anything in writing to licensing? Taking this step ensures that you follow all licensing guidelines, but it also helps to protect you in the event that a parent or neighbor makes a complaint to licensing. If you can prove that you did everything you were told to do, you’ll have a much better chance of disproving any complaints that may arise.
- Waivers of Liability
Even if you already have parents sign a blanket waiver of liability when they enroll their children, you always want to have them sign a separate waiver for each individual event you put on. This waiver should specify exactly what types of activities they and their children will be engaging in – for example, playing on playground equipment, participating in a sack race, etc. – and should state that the parent agrees not to pursue legal action against you in the event of an accident. If you plan on posting pictures or videos of the event, make sure you also include a photographic release. This waiver won’t protect you in all cases, but it will give you a little bit of extra protection and may help prevent a lawsuit.
- Communicate with Parents
Perhaps most importantly, be clear with parents about what you do or do not expect from them at your event. For example, which of you is responsible for the enrolled children during the event? Will you be watching the children, or do you expect the parents to keep an eye on them? If you expect the parents to watch them, let them know. It may even be a good idea to put it in writing, as well as any other rules you expect them and their children to follow during the event. Remember, this is your business, so you need to be the one in control of what goes on.
The holidays can be a fun time for child care providers, children, and families, and, as long as you follow these five steps, they can be safe for you and your business as well. Happy Holidays!