The hard place in the phrase, “between a rock and a hard place” was a whirlpool. In Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, Odysseus must navigate his ship, the Argo, between a rocky cliff inhabited by the monster Scylla and a whirlpool inhabited by the monster Charybdis. Day care centers often feel themselves in that unfortunate spot because of Virginia custody orders.
Your Daycare is Not a Referee
A sure way to be politely asked not to return with your child is to force your kid’s daycare center to referee a custody dispute. Most Virginia daycare operators are sincerely trying to provide excellent care at affordable prices. They do, however, have the right to refuse service to customers. So avoid putting your daycare center in the position of having to navigate between you (perhaps the rock?) and your children’s mother (perhaps the whirlpool?).
Daycare centers and schools operate under a long-time legel tenet, in loco parentis, in place of the parent. They are legally required to show the same diligence and attention to a child’s safety that the parents would show.
You handcuff your daycare operator when you fail to communicate fully and in detail what the exact requirements and limitations are of a child custody order. The best cure is to provide the daycare with a photocopy of the actual order. We suggest providing multiple copies, one of which you have marked up or highlighted. The highlighted copy allows a daycare teacher or center manager to scan the order and know who can and cannot pick up your child.
Keep Your Childcare Provider Well Informed
Notifying your child’s daycare teachers of a custody schedule also alleviates many problems. Which parent is to get a call on which day? Who should be picking up the child on Friday afternoons?
This is not a trifling matter, as your child’s safety hinges on keeping the court ordered custody on track. If the child’s mother shows up unexpectedly when you are running late, do you really want your daughter going with her if you are supposed to have her for a weekend?
Other reasons the teachers benefit from being well informed of your custody schedule:
- Your child soiled or got fingerpaint on an outfit and needs fresh clothes; which parent should bring them?
- Your child fell and was hurt; which parent should come for an early pickup?
- One of you — the parent with custody this week — volunteered to bring extra graham crackers for everyone, but forgot; who gets the call?
Sending Your Child to Two Daycare Centers
What if the child’s mother takes your son to The Nihilistic Nursery but you take him to Cots For Tots? (These are not real daycare centers!) Your child must learn two sets of “school” guidelines, you have to provide two sets of daycare necessities, and you both have to pay more. Most daycare centers are not keen on “part-timers,” so alternating weeks may still cost the same as full-time attendance.
If you both insist on using separate daycare centers, expect friction from both centers and confusion from your child. A situation of two daycares overseeing your child also leads to suspicion:
- Why isn’t the center I picked good enough?
- Is he getting his buddies to spy on my kid at the daycare he picked?
- I doubt if I can get straight answers out of her daycare’s teachers; they are probably covering up her neglect!
Never try to coax information about the other parent from daycare teachers. Your custody case will not benefit from such underhanded tactics.
Staying Well-informed of Daycare Activities
Not only should your child’s daycare staff be fully informed of custody arrangements, you and the child’s mother should be fully informed of activities at the center.
You may benefit from giving the daycare director a stack of self-addressed, stamped envelopes so you can stay current on newsletters and papers sent home when you do not have custody.
This relieves the child’s mother from having to inform you, it simplifies the daycare staff’s work, and it demonstrates to all that you are a very concerned, involved parent.
911 … Or Just Call The Firm For Men
Daycare operators and teachers are trained to call 911 in the event someone not on an approved list or not cited in a custody order tries to pick up a child from a daycare center. The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) counsels teachers and managers to err on the side of safety.
If only to avoid traumatizing your own child, do everything you can to avoid any disruption that tempts the teachers to make that emergency services call. Work with the staff to resolve any miscommunication amicably.
For answers to all your questions about child custody, please contact us online at The Firm For Men, or call our offices at 757-383-9184.