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Late Pickup: How to Handle Tardy Parents at Ministry Events

2. At student drop-off, post a large sign with the end-time.

Parents need this not-so-subtle reminder. This is especially true if your youth events have irregular end times. During my first year of ministry, I ran a calendar with random events that happened at random times and at random places. Expecting parents to always remember when an event ends at 6:30 versus 7 or 7:30 is impossible.

3. Make it (a little) boring for students who remain.

You don’t need to make kids sit in silence until parents arrive. But if you let them play in the gym until their parents arrive, then students will be the ones encouraging their parents to arrive later and later.

(When we posted our large sign with the 8 p.m. end time, one mom told me she was sure it ended at 8:30. Why? Because her son told her it ended at 8:30, simply because he didn’t want to go home yet.)

4. Give students a 10-minute warning.

Ten minutes before your youth program ends, sound a bell, play a video clip, or make an announcement. Just do something that instructs all your students to text their parents that the event is almost over. Even if the program ends at the same time every week, some parents wait for the text from their teenager that says, “Done. Come get me.”

Having students send a text preemptively instead of waiting until they’re done saying goodbye to all their friends 10 minutes after the posted end-time helps immensely.

What else do you do to avoid late pickup by parents? Please share your ideas in the comments below!