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Weekly Discussion: Waiting List Fiascos

Discussion in 'General Guiding' started by badgemad4, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Although some will be getting ready or already have started to meet again after the school holidays, as families start to clear the calendar for the year ahead this is a popular time to start getting future requests to join the unit.

    One of the most popular questions to ask on FB groups seems to be how to manage waiting lists. Central Guiding has no set policy on waiting lists, only that transfers of existing members should be given priority and suggestions to consider time on list and siblings. As far as I know there are no "nos" on how a list is formed either. However some areas may have worked out their own way of doing things; there might be a district waiting list, priority for volunteers children, or a well known need-to-have-name-down-at-birth convention.

    What are your:
    • Questions about waiting to join lists
    • Ways that have worked for your unit/s in managing long lists
    • Managing those awkward in between waits, where the list isn't that long but you get some girls from the same age group joining and others waiting another term or so (and parents wanting to know why!)
    • How to let parents know that they might have to wait a long time/might never get a place in the unit
     
  2. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I'm not the most experienced with WTJ lists but what I have picked up/ been told:
    • Give parents an idea of when they will be offered a place but not exactly where they are on the list. That way if things change it avoids awkward situations and competitive parents!
    • Try to give enquirers an idea of how long it will be, when they first enquire and a follow up the term before. If its been several years since they have registered and they aren't coming from a feeder unit, at the start of the academic year contact them to make sure they haven't moved out of the area and that the details are still valid. Give people a time frame of when you will "automatically assume" that they no longer want the place.
    • Remember that as such you are doing the community "a favour" by running the unit. It can be hard but try not to let parents who complain get to you about not having a place when they want it, and don't kill yourself trying to follow up non responsive enquirers. Don't be afraid of being a little "harsh"- if someone hasn't responded to your attempts to contact them or made a late in the day enquiry don't feel the need to accommodate guilt tripish requests. If your system works for the unit and isn't against Guiding policy (for example operating like a closed unit if you aren't registered as one) don't worry about what other units are doing.
     
  3. ker-stee

    ker-stee SGP Enthusiast GuiderPlus

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    I think as well, don't be afraid to say no, we don't have space at this time - especially if there are other units in the area!

    I've got 7 starting in January and by September i'll have 30. I can't take anyone else who enquires now for at least 12 months (I only have two going to Guides this year) but we have 2 other units with space within 0.3 miles! We are providing a service, but in a lot of places - we're not the only one!

    It's worth keeping in touch with other groups I think too to know who has actually got space at this moment!
     
  4. AngliaGuider

    AngliaGuider Regular (50+ posts)

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    We now have two Guide units meeting in the same place on different nights, with three feeder units (plus we are the 'normal' destinations for two village Brownie units in our District who do not have their own Guide units). We have relatively few non-Brownie starters, so it is easy to manage expectations for those few we have, but we have had to adopt a very transparent policy so that there is no difficulty with girls coming up from the different units.

    We agreed with the other Guide unit our list of priority for allocating places, and we remind the Brownie unit leaders every term:
    1. Daughters of Girlguiding volunteers
    2. Siblings of current Guides in that unit
    3. Guides moving in from out of the area
    4. Other Brownies
    5. Non-Brownies
    Between the two Guide units, we can offer all girls a place at the moment, but it might not be on the evening they prefer. A few families have chosen to have their daughters in different units to accommodate other extra-curricular activities, but that is a family choice - we never enforce it.

    Within each category, it is by length of time on our unit's GO list. That puts the onus on the Brownie leaders to get their act together to speak with their Brownie families and establish their preferences and early on, so that as Guide leaders we can plan: they know that their girls stand a much better chance of getting their preference if they don't leave it until the end of term when they want to move.

    In practice, I have a slightly flexible maximum limit - I say 30 is as many as I want to go to, but I will go a little over that for a volunteer daughter/sibling as I know that the following term someone is leaving and I'll go back down to 30 very quickly (our hall really doesn't accommodate more than 30 well). But as we are very clear about the policy, and we know that we can always offer a place at a unit, we can be firm without feeling guilty. We always let Brownie leaders know how many spaces we'll have at the start of the next couple of terms, and where parents have very specific needs they tend to be happy to make a decision early.

    I have learnt over the years, though, to say no - I still don't like doing it, but it doesn't do anyone any favours to keep taking in more girls indefinitely - in our space available, if we pack in too many it isn't fun for the girls or leaders and retention drops because of it. Been there, got the t-shirt, not going back. But it is much easier to say no now that we have an alternate unit to offer them - we never have to say to a Brownie that she can't become a Guide.
     
  5. Quack

    Quack Veteran (100+ posts) Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    I think the important thing is to decide on your policy, write it down and stick to it. You can't bend the rules for the girl who lives across the road and not the one who lives round the corner...it also helps if a parent queries it that you have it written down.

    I think the comment above about managing expectations is right, if you know that Flossie won't get the chance to join until she is 9, it is kinder to suggest that they try another unit rather than be the unit with a full waiting list...
     
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  6. JJJJ1980

    JJJJ1980 Brownie Leader x 3

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    I email every enquiry with a "thank you for enquiring, unfortunately we have a long list" and a worse case scenario of wait length with an explanation of what might effect that. I then offer other units and mention volunteering. Some times the parent is willing to be referred, sometimes they want to wait.
    I like spreadsheets so I have all my ins and outs for the next three years planned to allow me to give these time frames.
    I try to get a list of current rainbows as often as possible and I make sure the rainbow leaders know my current wait time. It does get tricky though when my list is longer than the amount of time they spend in Rainbows!
    I put on every start of term letter a reminder about younger sisters. We also have the expectation that girls will leave at the end of the term in which they turn ten.
    I run my list on first come, first served basis and that means occasionally I have to tell parents that their daughter won't get a place but I do everything in my power to put them in touch with someone who can offer them one.
    We also try to arrange a visit the term before to try to avoid the coming once and never returning situation so the place can be offered to the next on the list if they don't like it.
     
  7. Trinny

    Trinny Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I'm a bit of a sponge unit - no Rainbow feeders so units refer girls to me when they have a long waiting list, and from friends who are brought. I don't have a waiting list as I currently only have 10 kids, but anywhere from 7-16 is fairly standard for the group. I try to communicate to other Brownie units that I have spaces and can offer girls a place immediately, and also tell the DC when we're getting to critical levels (7 or below), but it would make my life easier if other guiders could give some indication of if they have girls that they'll refer on. As a district we have loads of girls who are on the waiting list for Brownies, so I think that I might suggest in future District meetings that we all say what capacity we have. I also think that some guiders can be a bit possessive over their waiting list, as if it is a competition how many you have on there, and never refer girls to you even if there is no chance of them getting in before they're 10. It's very strange.
     
  8. fenris

    fenris fenris GuiderPlus

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    It's also worth considering the view from the other side of the fence. There are units out there (perhaps more than you think) who consistently have plenty of spaces available. Can you take the wider view as a District in looking how to utilise the larger and smaller units, those which are consistently full and those with capacity. (Not necessarily in just trying to punt requests from full units to those with spaces, but also in considering whether the unit with spare capacity might be a better fit for the girl with extra needs, rather than the unit which is already at capacity). Bigger picture can give useful perspective.
     
  9. Quack

    Quack Veteran (100+ posts) Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    I agree, I think some leaders feel it is an indictation of their value that their list is so long, but really there are so many factors and many more units could be 'successful' if they had more numbers.
     
  10. Jenefer

    Jenefer Regular (50+ posts)

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    another problem is parents who will only consider one unit and prefer to sit on a long waiting list rather than go to a unit with space
     
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  11. ker-stee

    ker-stee SGP Enthusiast GuiderPlus

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    Yes, this exactly!!! I have 22 currently on my waiting list, most are Rainbows, but the Rainbow leader does tell the girls when choosing that our unit is full and they may not get in on their 7th birthday! But some parents still choose to wait for a certain unit, rather than go to another one!
     
  12. Kochanski

    Kochanski Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Recently I've noticed an increase in 2 things when I send out letters inviting girls who've been on my waiting list for ages ...

    1. Thanks but she's already got a place in another pack

    Or

    2. No response at all, which I think is rude.
     
  13. elenopa

    elenopa Brownie Guider

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    In the last year, I have had a sudden influx on my waiting list, meaning that I have had to put girls off for months.

    It's been a juggle trying to decide if I go with the oldest, the one who's been on the list longer, the Rainbows, the sisters. Luckily, the other pack that meets in the same hut has just taken a few off my hands because they had spaces. It still leaves me with 8 old enough to join, but only one space (and I've upped my numbers a little bit to accommodate more girls).
     
  14. partygirl

    partygirl Veteran (100+ posts)

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    As a Division we keep everyone up to date with others lists (or we really try) and regularly offer parents other units, even offering spaces in the division next door. Our problem is that every group is full (and some, in a couple of instances). It tends to be a quick update at every Division meeting and leaders make enquiries themselves with other units for spaces. We are really lucky that our division is very close knit and everyone gets on.

    From a unit point of view my list is a nightmare. I run it:
    1. Volunteers children
    2. Looked after children
    3. Transfers (but only from outside the 2 local Divisions as we are quite small geographically)
    4. Length of time on list - the main leader from my feeder unit is really good at giving me the girls names to go on early, so they get priority as they have been on the list longest.
    5. Date of birth

    I don't tend to have issues with parents as, like JJJJ1980, when I get a new enquiry I contact them to tell them it will be at least a year and which other units have spaces. 99% of the time they want to wait, which is a pain but that's their choice. I do feel guilty sometimes saying no but, for my own sanity, I have to draw the line somewhere.

    Last year I ended up having to speak to the girls and send a note home on the newsletter asking them not to raise other girls expectations of getting in, as they kept telling their friends how fab we are and our enquiries went right up.
     
  15. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Whats the common consensus on rejoiners and where they fall?

    We've had a couple of girls leave this term/ had left in the summer because of commitment clashes, but some of the current girls have said things like "Flossie says when she moves to Saturday dance she's coming back to Brownies" (which I know is just general chat from Brownies, like how they might also say X isn't here and is never coming back so can I be sixer now when X has just gone on holiday for the week! I always tell them we'll see and I'll need to hear that from Flossies Mum/Dad). To make it easier for admin and planning we only have new starters at the start of the term and never more than four new starters at once. Our waiting to join list and term structure flow mean that at this moment in time for the next term (not this one though) we *could* fit in one or two rejoiners if they approach us BUT this might not always be the case and I don't want parents to get the idea that they can come and go as they please and there will always be a place waiting for them.

    I'm inclined to say that they go to the bottom of the list, as they have chosen to "forfeit" their place in the unit, unless another girl unexpectedly drops out before the top of the WTJ list is old enough to join.
     
  16. partygirl

    partygirl Veteran (100+ posts)

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    We've not had a rejoinder issue but I think I'd probably use the system we use for girls who want to transfer within Division. They go back on the waiting list but at the bottom of their school year. We are Guides though and sometimes it does mean they are joining the list at the top.
     
  17. Lynz

    Lynz Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Individual circumstances can play a part with rejoiners too, e.g. I'd give higher priority to the kid who let us know they had to leave because they couldn't get to meetings due to family illness necessitating a change in childcare arrangements than to the one who said everything was boring, stopped turning up or replying to messages, and then popped up out of the woodwork when they heard an exciting trip was being planned.
     
  18. Epona

    Epona Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Yes, this is one issue where family circumstances, and how courteous they were on leaving, make all the difference in the world.
     
  19. Trinny

    Trinny Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I have one girl who was picked for the county hockey team in September, so she couldn't come to Brownies but her mum said it was only for 1 term and could she rejoin in January. I don't have that many girls at the moment so I said yes, but now census is looming and I really don't know if or how I should ask for a contribution to census (our unit subs covers it for all the other girls). I feel like I should ask because it's not fair on others to subsidise it, but I'm not sure how to say it. In hindsight I should have asked for half subs for the term she was away as a placeholder, but again, that's hard to justify to a parent.
     
  20. browniebeth

    browniebeth Brownie Leader Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    Think if you can afford it, you'll have to chalk it up to experience this time, rather than apply anything retrospectively, but a good thing to remember for next time. I suppose it's no different to anyone joining for the first time in January (unless you charge these newbies for census separately) when you may have lost girls at Christmas or in the summer.

    In future, a placeholder may be a good way forward, explaining that it is their contribution from subs that goes towards census.

    I'm assuming that she's definitely coming back? I had one whose mum was spinning me a line for about 8 months that she would give Brownies another try next half term, term, could she go back on the waiting list for when she's older....... Sometimes they don't have the guts to tell you!
     

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