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Old 01-30-2013, 08:10 AM
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Default Do you charge parents if kids don't come?

I'm in a situation where when I originally took on 2 of the children I have (siblings) I agreed to be flexible w/ their parents and not charge them for the day if they ended up not coming for that day. Well, I was under the impression that that would be rare... however, lately it has occurred more often and not even a 24 hour notice. Latest one was this last Monday- I got up at 6 to be ready for them... couple hours later find out that their mom had the day off after I had texted asking where they were..and in turn found out they weren't coming. They were the only kids I was to have that day and I could have scheduled Dr. Appts. that day... I'm considering approaching them and telling them I need to change my policy with them. I've also had instances with them where I have people contact me for drop-in care and I assume I have them so I reserve those 2 spots and in turn tell the inquiry that I'm full-- then either late that night or that morning find out they aren't coming so I'm out that $50...
I'm thinking about saying something along the lines of "I need to change my policy as not getting a 24 hour notice has affected the way I provide for my family. Please give at least a 24 hour notice, or else you will still be charged for the day that they don't come"... Do any of you have any thoughts, suggestions, or comments regarding this? Have any of you been in a situation similar?

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:40 PM
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As a parent who has had children in day care and preschool, I've always paid a monthly fee whether or not my children attended. So, no breaks for sick days or days when I was home or for week vacations. I also paid an additional sum of money if I was late picking them up.

These are standard practices. You are running a business so don't feel bad instituting a new policy. Find a contract that outlines monthly fees to be paid the first of the month and include information about a late fee, (x amount when not picked up on time). Make sure the contract states that they have to give notice if they are switching daycare. Put something in you are comfortable with and include terms that you give the same amount of notice. So if you have a problem with the family or the children for some reason (sometimes they don't get along with other kids or there are unforeseen issues) that you will give them time to find new care.

Drop off care sounds hard. You could request a refundable quarterly registration fee to use this service. If they sign up for a day or two the fee would cover it if they don't pay. If they don't sign up or try to sign up when you are full you can refund it at the end of the period or let them opt into applying it to the next quarter. This way if they sign up and don't show, you keep the portion you would have earned. A contract for this would have to clarify you only get the refundable fee back if you've paid for scheduled services (including no shows) or for cancellations that were cancelled 24 or 48 hours in advance, whichever is good for your business model.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:45 PM
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I was just thinking, since you are home care, that you can stipulate a sick policy where if you are sick a discount will be applied to their next payment. Since that may be a concern if you do not have an employee.

I wouldn't even know how you would handle vacations. Do you take them when they do? It'd work out great if you knew in advance to plan.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:33 AM
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When I had my daycare, I always charged whether they showed or not. It was written in my contract and it was gone over during the initial interview. I always had parents initial the contract in several spots when it came to payment so they couldn't say I never told them.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:59 AM
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Thanks for the responses!!!!

Starbirdy66-- Thanks for all the tips!! I appreciate it -specially since it's coming from a parent that had to pay for child care! I think I pretty much just screwed myself over with that particular situation. It is stated in my contract about still paying for the spot-- especially if I am not given a 24 hour prior notice of the not coming. However, when I met with this family- I let my emotions get into as they were/are going through a tough time and like I said in my previous post-- I allowed that if they weren't going to come then the money could be rolled over to the next week to cover another day. Basically-- any future clients I will not be flexible because I've learned that I'm screwing myself over and how I provide for my family.

With taking vacations--- When I take vacation I basically take a pay cut. I don't charge people for when I take off... I have heard of other providers still charging .... like in their contract they will put "I am entitled to a weeks worth of paid vacation" or something like that- but I don't do that. I think sometimes I try to justify what I'm doing by saying "Well, I'm only doing for them what I would want others to do for me" because I know I wouldn't want to pay for child care that I'm not even using, you know?? However, I also realize if I needed child care and I found the right person that I trusted, I would have no problem paying for the days I missed! So, I guess it goes both ways. Just trying to figure out where to go from here with it all.

I know for any future clients I will not be as flexible as I have been with this family. It just isn't wise for my business and how I provide for my family.

I don't charge fees by the month-- they basically pay me each week (The first day of care) and that has been working out well. I usually am flexible on how people pay me-- as long as it's the first day of when they start care each week. I've had someone before that wanted to pay the lump sum for the whole month and I was fine w/ that! It's all in what works best for them -- as long as payment is made the first day of their care.

Yea, with my sick policy I've actually been providing child care in my home for almost 3 years now and I haven't had to call out once due to me or my daughter being sick- thankfully!!!! (knocking on wood) lol I have had to "call out" due to other things and I just didn't get paid for the day-- or if I was already paid it would just roll over to the following week to pay for another day.

lorah-- Thank you for your input! That is a really good idea on having parents initial through out the contract in several spots! Very smart!!! I will definitely be implementing that with any future clients!

Thanks again to the both of you for your input! It really is appreciated.
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:20 AM
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I haven't had a chance to read the other replies but if I would definitely write a policy stating that you need 24 hours notice if they aren't bringing the kids. If they don't inform you within that time period, then they will be charged the fee for that day. Explain to them that when they don't show up you are not able to fill the extra spots because it's too late!

As for vacation, I wouldn't charge for your days off. I know I wouldn't want to pay the extra money...that means I'd have to pay double for childcare (for days provider is off and I'd have to pay someone else to take care of my kids). I can't believe people actually charge for their days off. And yes it is hard to find a person you trust with your child but believe me people will look elsewhere...they'll just find someone else they trust (and who doesn't charge for vacation days).

I would also include a policy stating that if their children are sick (contagious such as having pink eye, the flu, green mucus coming out of nose) that they need to keep the children at home because other children in your care will become infected.

If I were you, I'd stop by a couple of daycare centers and pick up a copy of their policies to see what they are doing. You don't have to do everything they do but you can get ideas on what to do. You could probably find some forms online too. Just an idea....

I've never had a daycare business but my son attended day care and they always made us pay upfront and if I kept my son home the money didn't roll over. If I didn't take him in, I still paid for that day and I was okay with that.

Just remember that this is a business and you can not let emotions get in the way. Not even if it comes to family and friends. Easier said than done I know...I've been screwed over because I let my emotions get in the way and after many many times of being burnt I have finally learned my lesson. It's hard but just think of your family and remember you are doing this so that you can get them the things they need.

Good Luck with your business!
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:07 AM
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I don't do day care but if I did I would set up set fee schedule, I would think drop off day care could be challenging at best. I can relate though even though it's not related to day care, my husband and I have a part time Photography business and we've done photo shoots for friends and even though we charge them we always feel bad and want to offer a discount. This post made me remember that these are businesses we are trying to run.

Good luck!
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Old 02-19-2013, 12:49 PM
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I don't charge if they are sick or if they are on vacation. But I only allow it 2-3 times then I make then start paying a fee to hold their spot.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:32 AM
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I don't run a daycare, but I am a mother of 2. I think Dugsmom really had great ideas. They seem fair to both you and to the parents.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:54 AM
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I think it really comes down to what was set up at the beginning. With me and my sitter, she understood that my job may fluctuate and so would the hours or times I would need her to watch.
Some weeks he is there for 30 hours, some weeks 10 hours and as long as I communicate with her on a daily or weekly basis about my uncoming schedules then all is well.

I you haven't already done so which it sounds like, I would reestablish your requirements and have a possible minimum weekly hour quota. You are the business owner so you are allowed to do this to make sure you get paid what you need. You can not make expectations or charge someone if this was not agreed upon though.
Hang in there!
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