Love them or hate them, the great likelihood is that someone on your staff will have – and have questions on how they can use – a cell phone. While assuming that everyone is a trustworthy adult that can operate in the best interest of their workplace at all times is probably the preferred strategy, a cell phone policy can be useful for liability reasons.
Before you create your own policy, check the regulations of your local licensing agency – there may already be perimeters that you and your staff are expected to operate within.
The first question is whether or not you will allow cell phones in your center/program at all. Are staff permitted to have them on their person and use them on breaks? During rest time? Only in certain rooms, like offices or workrooms? Consider the tone that your policy sets – are staff ‘checking in’ their belongings to you or a locker, or are they trusted to keep their phones secure on their own? What does that imply about your management style?
If you allow cell phones, what can they be used for? Are only certain staff members allowed phones? Can a staff member answer a phone call during the work day, and if so, how should they go about doing so? Can they use their cell phone to take photos during operating hours? Are staff members expected to use cell phones for work purposes (such as having one on their person on the playground or during field trips)? Should staff ever contact parents over their cell phone, and will staff phone numbers be available for parents? The answers to these questions depend on a lot of things – your style as an administrator, the context and size of your center/program, and the self-sufficiency of your staff. What works in one workplace might not work in another, and it might take a few ‘tries’ to find a policy that keeps everyone safe, happy, and productive
Where To Include
At Playvolution HQ, we recommend programs have three handbooks–a Parent Handbook, a Staff Handbook, and an Operating Handbook. Consider adding this policy to your Staff Handbook.
- There are lots of apps – both free and for a fee – that allow for secure, fast communication between caregivers and parents without sharing personal phone numbers.
- Smartphones can also be used for playing music, setting a timer, and having a flashlight – not just phone calls, texting, and photos. (For example, I use my phone in the classroom to play music through a Bluetooth speaker every day.)
- What are the steps for a caregiver who violates the cell phone use policy? How do those steps compare when a caregiver violates other policies
Disclaimer: These are sample policies intended for use as a guide in policy development. Your program’s policies should be unique to your program and reflect the program’s culture, practices, and the regulations in your area.
Employees are not permitted to make or receive personal telephone calls during work hours unless authorized to do so by the Director or in the event of an emergency. This includes using one’s own cell phone and/or excessive texting. Cell phones are not prohibited in the
classroom, but employees are expected to use them only when appropriate or necessary.
Teddy Bear Child Care Center, Indiana, USA
Telephone Usage Policy
Personal cell phones must be checked into the office upon arrival; at the time that you collect your ID badge. You may retrieve your cell phone at the end of your shift or during your scheduled break.
Personal use of the phone during scheduled hours should be limited to emergencies. The use of personal cell phones during working hours for phone calls or text messaging is prohibited.
ABC Academy, Mississippi, USA
It is important that every staff member’s attention remains on the children at all times. A second’s lapse in attention could result in a serious accident, which, with appropriate supervision, would have been prevented. Therefore: Cell phones are not permitted in any of the program rooms with the exception of lead teachers for documentation purposes.
Cell phones should remain turned off and stored in a purse, bag, coat, classroom cell phone box, or the office, etc. while a staff member is clocked in. Cell phone use is permitted only during an approved break, and never in a classroom. It is never appropriate to make a personal phone call, send a text message, check voicemail, etc. while in the presence of children, even while on an approved break.
It is expected that when leaving the center for any reason (walk, field trip, etc.), one staff member will carry with them a cell phone. In this circumstance, the cell phone should only be used in the event of an emergency and not for personal calls/text messaging.
In the event of an emergency, the staff member must inform both the Lead Teacher and Director and/or Assistant Director of the situation. In this case, cell phones must be set to vibrate. Calls may be answered only after a substitute has arrived to replace the staff member, and outside of the classroom. Ratios must be maintained at all times.
Lilypad Learning Center, Iowa, USA velopment Center, Mississippi, USA
Have a Parent, Staff, or Operating handbook you’d like to share with us for use in our policy samples? You can upload PDFs here.
Thoughts on this topic? Share them in the comments, we’d love to know what you think.