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Upfront Fee


Suer
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We are a pack away sessionally run mornings only just about breaking even setting..............last Sept we had about 5 children not take up their places, this happens i know but what made this worse this time was 3 of them did not call they just did not turn up

when i contacted them they had gone elsewhere ............. this makes me cross because 1. they had been to a 'free' open afternoon, we had completed info forms, all about me forms, key people etc added to registers fees worked out, photos and name cards all done ready for starting in sept. My staff recieved pay for this and rightly so.

and 2. i had a waiting list and had told other children who wanted places that there wasnt any available, these children had therefore found places elsewhere

 

if we had an upfront charge refundable after the first half term say............ would this make people think twice, would it put off people joining us. I do intend to ask my parents now how they would have felt about this charge

 

Also thinking about making a nominal chrage for photo's they cost us a fortune but they are so loved by parents, children and staff a like. What do you think ???????????????

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That's a tricky one, you could certainly charge a booking fee which would cover the cost of your admin. If you liked, it could be refundable when they take up the place. I'm sure parents would understand

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Playgroup charge a £10 refundable fee when filling in the application form. For this they get a T-shirt, the rest covers admin, its refunded if they later chose not to come to use. Its a system they have used for a few years, its in our literature and no one has ever complained. i think to cover yourself from what suer has found its the only thing to do.

I dont think it would be against any funding rules. You're not charging for the place, you are merly covering yoursellves against lost income, and if they get a T-shirt into the bargin most people ar ehapy to oblige.

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Sorry our LA has said we cannot charge an admin or booking fee at all if the child is funded as the place has to be free at the point of delivery. Even if we offered a t-shirt in exchange the parents could not be forced to take up our charge/offer as the place cannot be dependant on then buying the t-shirt as it were. I agree it is very annoying though.

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We ask parent and child to come and visit our setting first to have a look around and stay to play

for half an hour (sometimes more if the child's throws a tantrum 'cos they don't want to go home).

We give them an admission form there and then and ask them to take it away with them to make

their decision. At the bottom of this form there is a sentence that says a £25 deposit is required to secure

their place which will be taken off their final fees invoice when they leave the setting. We have never

had a problem with parents paying this fee up front and only refund it, if we are unable to offer suitable

days. We also ask for payment to be made half term in advance (although there's always a few parents

that have to be chased after six weeks!)

 

dottyp

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I think it comes down to different LEAs. Ours has just told me we can charge afee to a 3 year old because he missed the headcount day. I asked if the sessions would have to be free due to his age and she said 'Golly, no. Charge what you normally would'.

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I think it comes down to different LEAs. Ours has just told me we can charge afee to a 3 year old because he missed the headcount day. I asked if the sessions would have to be free due to his age and she said 'Golly, no. Charge what you normally would'.

 

That's surprising. I notify my LEA when this happens and put a claim in for the number of sessions I'm claiming for the child for the term and they send it with the second half of the payment (ours is split into two). If it's after the second payment then the money is added onto the next term's claim

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We introduced a registration fee last year of £20 this secures a place and on their first day they get a t shirt a sweatshirt a book bag and a water bottle I have had no complaints about this. It has worked really well and the children love getting a little present on their first day

Sal

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Hi

 

We are sessional committee run playgroup, we ask for £30 (£10 registration +£20 deposit). The deposit is refunded in their first 1/2 term fees, but we so ask that they donate it. We are a charity and the letter is worded:

 

A deposit of £30 is required to secure the places. Of this, £10 is a registration fee. The remaining £20 is the deposit to hold your place. This £20 is refundable against your first terms fees. However many parents choose to donate this amount to assist our charity run playgroup in replacing toys and buying craft materials for the children. Your support makes a really big difference and is what has kept playgroup running for over 30 years. If you prefer not to donate but would like to assist playgroup in other ways, we are always in need of new committee members. It’s a great way to get involved and use your skills!

 

This works about 80% of the time. (I normally forget to refund the others anyway, to busy thinking about settling children). This is for 2 year olds though, people booking ahead for September. If they are filling in places during the year, I don't charge it. I just pleased to get the places filled. The conditions of the grant say that we are not allowed to charge a deposit, but people may be using the grant elsewhere.

 

I do agree it is such a waste of time and money when you sort everything out and they don't turn up.

 

There was a previous thread about putting photos on disc, which would be cheaper.

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We are a sessional pre-school. We charge a £15 administration fee which is non refundable. This is paid when they accept their child's place. I have had some pay the fee and still not turn up but at least we are not out of pocket if this happens.

Linda

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Sorry our LA has said we cannot charge an admin or booking fee at all if the child is funded as the place has to be free at the point of delivery.

This doesn't make sense though for all settings, holly35! When a child joins our setting they are rarely entitled to funding, so that argument wouldn't stack up! Is this a blanket instruction to all kinds of groups?

 

Maz

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I think there has been a thread on this before - I know we too have the same problems, but I found out that if a child is going to be in receipt of funding we are NOT ALLOWED to charge any monies at all ie no admin fee, no registration fee, - and also no monies for other incidentals such as we use to charge 25p for cooking, however if a child is not going to be in receipt of the NEG we can charge them a registration fee. I am going to charge all of our children for Sept who are not entitled to funding a £25.00 refundable deposit....................... :o Dot

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wow what a quick set of replies thank you

 

still not sure might contact our lea with regaqrds to funded children most of ours that start in sept are not funded but a few are

the amount has to be an amount that parents do not really want to loose most of my parents would not think twice about £10

 

will still keep thinking

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Just a thought, but would it be worth your while to phone the parents a month before children are due to start to check they are still coming - on the pretext of answering any last minute questions? You'd then sort of know one way or another and would be able o contact those on the waiting list.

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These are parents who have accepted the place sorted out days of attendance attended open mornings and this open afternoon session in june/july

have start dates etc

these parents have already had letters offering and follow up calls

 

but thanks for the idea

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Maz, in theory the LA said they couldn't tell us how to deal with the unfunded children. We are only sessional but I think the comments were directed at full day care settings who had been making charges even if the child only attended for funded sessions. In the end we decided that it was better not to make a charge even if the child might be fee paying as we have more and more parents reluctant to have their child start until funding starts. From our point of view we would rather a child starts earlier and gets settled in on one session per week than come in upset and unsettled five sessions a week.

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we are not allowed to charge funded children anything.... and certainly no admin fee.. so if the booking is for them to start after funding kicks in we cannot charge.. but if they start before we can.... this caused us to rethink and we had to stop any charges as parents would only delay until child was funded so as not to pay the fee!

 

As others have said we cannot charge for anything during the funded sessions... can ask for donations, which is what we do with fruit etc but not ask for any payments....it must be completely free.

 

and yeas we always get some who have booked several settings hedging thier bets.. this has become lass since LEA intoduced own forms for parents to complete..

 

(must admit last sept one of them not arriving was a big relief.. setting child went to had so many behaviour issues that they found really hard to cope with!)

 

Inge

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After a particularly bad year for new children just not turning up at the beginning fo term, we decided to introduce a cheque deposit system on the understanding that unless we were given enough notice for them no longer needing the place, we would cash the cheque.

We have since been told this is absolutely not permitted in any way, shape or form.

A clue for those who were going to fail to show was their lack of response to the 'all about me pack', not all, but most.

I'm struggling to keep up with fees at the moment and fed up of chasing payments as we ask for payments to be made half a term in advance. I still don't have all of this term fees paid yet and will be sending out next terms fees next week! Nightmare.

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Inge you said what I was trying to say much more succinctly (sp?). Our parents would delay starting until funding started if we put this in place. We did make a point of telephoning after the first missed session this year which at least meant we weren't waiting for ages to see if they wanted the place. As we often have people ringing during the first week of term this meant we were able to fill the places left by the two non-starters (only 2 yeah!) :o

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we too rang after one missed session.. but it surprised us how many of the numbers were wrong! so we sent letters as well asking them to contact us by a set date or the place would be filled... tended to work and we would get the calls of panic as thy had forgotten!

 

Inge

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This doesn't make sense though for all settings, holly35! When a child joins our setting they are rarely entitled to funding, so that argument wouldn't stack up! Is this a blanket instruction to all kinds of groups?

 

Maz

 

 

This is the same for ALL funded children. The place must be free at point of delivery. About 70% of our children are funded when they start but it became such a nightmare charging some and not others an admin fee (and also so unfair to those poor parents that were paying fees anyway) that in the end although we carried on charging evryone the fee when they accepted the place (currently £30) we now return it too all in their last half term with us, unless they leave without notice. It would be a nightmare keeping track of who was owed it back & who wasn't. I would always charge it though, in fact we make it quite clear when we offer a place (which we are currently doing now for Sept) that the plave cannot be held without the deposit. I did check with our LA and they said as long as it was refunded to funded then they felt that this was quite acceptable to charge

 

I like the idea of providing sweatshirts and bookbags from it though, may have to think abot that a bit more.

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I think I would argue the fact that the admin fee was not at the point of delivery. For children starting in September we offer the places in June and expect the fee paid at the time of acceptance. They are not actually entiltled to funding at this point.

My other argument would be that if they accept a place and don't turn up we don't get any funding for them. Who is going to cover the costs we have already incurred?

Linda

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I have recently attended a funding meeting - and this is what was said. If the children are accessing any thing other than the free session then you can charge what you like as far as a registration fee or top up is concerned - this is the case even if they just attend one lunch session each week.

 

The funding just covers the 2 1/2 hours of time and nothing else. YOU ARE ALLOWED to charge for snacks, cooking, outside visitors (such as music sessions) and anything else that is an extra on top of the funded session. The parents can opt out of the extras if they like - but really who is going to opt out of snacks????

 

At the moment I don't charge any extras but i will be when the 15 hours comes into place and lunch hours can be funded - I need to make my money somewhere!!

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