Whether it is a child's first experience in group care or their tenth, it is important to have a transition plan in place. A transition plan supports you, the parents, and the child in a successful adjustment to your program. Having a child start full time from day one can be overwhelming for both child and parents. Think about a transition plan as a way to ease everyone into the new routine.
How to create a successful transition plan:
- Decide what you are able to offer. Come up with a few options for how you are able to adapt the usual schedule to create a smooth transition. This is not to say that you need to kill yourself every time a new family joins. If you're coming up with a part time schedule is it more convenient for the child to come in the morning or afternoon? How many hours are you comfortable having the parents there?
- Communicate your approach to new parents. Make a conversation about a transition plan part of your process when enrolling new families. Parents might not even know that this is an option, and then feel really relieved when you bring it up. You are setting yourself up for a successful partnership with them if you are able to collaborate on an ideal transition plan for everyone.
- Be flexible. Every family is different, so what might feel comfortable for one family might not feel comfortable for another. It's great to have boundaries in what you are able to accommodate, but remember this is just temporary. Showing flexibility in this process shows parents that you view their child as an individual and have the whole family's needs in mind.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Keep parents informed about what is going well with the transition, as well as areas their child is struggling and what you are doing to support. Parents want to know everything. It's a win for everyone when your parents feel like they are in the know.
Sample Transition Plan
Day 1: Parents come before snack time, spend one hour at program with child, leave for the day
Day 2: Parents participate in an extended drop off (10 to 15 mins max), then say goodbye and leave the child for 1 to 2 hours as their comfort and schedule allows
Day 3: Parents drop off in a manner consistent as the previous day. Child stays for a longer period of time – 2 to 3 hours, can include lunch time if all is going well
Day 4: Follow the drop off routine established and have a child stay through lunch
Day 5: Follow drop off routine established and child stays through nap and/or for full day
Day 6: Child stays for full day
Transition Plan Template
Use this template to write out a plan that you share directly with parents. This will be especially helpful to create a record of how different families transition in. Keeping a record of this will give you better insight into what is most successful for you and your families.
Make a copy of this template and feel free to adapt to suit your needs. For example, the template has space for five days, but maybe you prefer a two week plan.