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Parental Contracts


suewhit
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we had a workers co-op meeting tonight (we have been feeling the recession this year for different reasons ) to discuss ways and means of addressing parents who scarper without paying . Also generally tightening our procedures up as regards how they pay or if they are slow at paying etc.

we have a contract but it is not working has anyone got an air tight one they would like to share?

any advice at all would be most welcome.

we have been told by our LA business advisor to set up a policy and procedure to encompass this I have no idea where to start maybe that is why my parents get away with defaulting anyone else have the same problems ? Do I need a policy or would a good contract suffice?

hope someone picks up on my post

sue

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we had a workers co-op meeting tonight (we have been feeling the recession this year for different reasons ) to discuss ways and means of addressing parents who scarper without paying . Also generally tightening our procedures up as regards how they pay or if they are slow at paying etc.

we have a contract but it is not working has anyone got an air tight one they would like to share?

any advice at all would be most welcome.

we have been told by our LA business advisor to set up a policy and procedure to encompass this I have no idea where to start maybe that is why my parents get away with defaulting anyone else have the same problems ? Do I need a policy or would a good contract suffice?

hope someone picks up on my post

sue

 

 

 

 

I feel there needs to be a central system just like the credit companies - you can explain to parents/carers, give them every help you possibly can but still there are a few that 'escape through the loop' and 'scarper off' to other settings - if we had a central system???? maybe parents would 'stay n pay'

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yes... we have this prob! Are we just too nice or what. I find it very very hard when we have 'inclusion advisors' giving us a hard time about putting pressure on certain parents for mentioning money..

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when a parent started with us we did a contact in the form of a letter stipulating how much was due, when, and how to pay, along with what would happen itf they did not pay etc. both parties signed it, us and parents and they had a copy.

 

we asked for payment in advance as I am sure all do, and in our case had just 1 week then written reminder at end of week with no money, stating that if they did not pay for by next session we would not allow child to stay.. and they had to pay for the missing week and the current one... I do know they also had as part of it the option to charge additional if payment was not forthcoming of 5% I think for admin charges or some such...

 

must admit it worked... they paid or child did not stay and if they did not return it was just 1 week loss not loads...

 

had one complaint about us ensuring up front payment... they never offered to pay and we always had to ask... but we did know they owed local afterschool club loads for another child .... they did not stay long.. did find out they went elsewherre and owed them lots now .. so felt we were justified in our stand.

 

 

does need consistancy and someone willing to take the firm stand with them..but we did always say if they had problems to come and discuss with us first..and we did set up payment plans for some as well as occasional reduced/free sessions for some in dire need. All came down to individual needs of family.

 

Inge

Edited by Inge
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This is a thorny subject for most settings I think.

 

We have just tightened up our policy and like Inge we have a procedure where we send out the invoice and if no payment is received in two weeks, a reminder is sent and £5 added for administration. The 'threat' of that usually does the trick, If payment is not received after 10 days of the reminder letter, we ask the parent not to bring the child to pre-school until the bill has been settled.

 

The decision (in the case of the Pre-school) is the Committees and not the Supervisors, and the Committee should deal with any parent who does not pay.

 

We do offer to discuss in confidence any payment problems the family may have and we are open to a weekly payment if the whole fee is too hard to find, or any other workable solution.

 

That is the easy part - the hard part is dealing with the fall out from an angry parent who inevitably feels they have been hard done by, and who gives a one-sided account of the incident to anyone who will listen. Possibly worse if you are in a small village setting.

 

Still, think how boring our job would be if it was easy ...

 

... mmm, maybe you're right, bored might be good!

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I too used to struggle with non payers and administration of fees.

I introduced a system where parents had the option of paying weekly / monthly but the conditions wee that they had to give me post dated cheques or complete standing orders. I promoted standing orders as these don't incurr the charges the bank made for paying in cheques. I produced my own standing order form which I completed either for weekly or monthly payers. My invoices showed the 'contract' so that it wasn't a case of the parents reading a fees policy once and stuffing it in a draw at home never to be read again :o

 

Parents were happy with this system, even writing post dated cheques. Parents also had the option to pay a term in advance if they wished.

 

I've attached examples of my invoices, the letter I wrote introducing the system, example fees policy and example standing order.

 

I was owner manager and wasn't always on the premises, reference to 'head office' was my home address, so in the case of committee run setting this could be preschool address but post addressed to the 'Treasurer' or if acceptable sent to treasurers home address.

 

There are also company's who will mange fees for you, and chase up debts, but this has cost implications.

 

I found my system very successful and I was in an area of social deprivation, the parents appreciatted clear boundaries, it helps them to manage their own finances and because of standing order or cheques (all given in at one time. post dated for say a 10 wk period) parents weren't tempted to keep their 'cash' for something else leaving preschool as the item less of a priority to pay compared to spending 'cash' on other things which seemed more of a priority. (if you know what I mean).

 

Hope these help, even if just to start compiling your own policy. xD

 

Peggy

FEES_LETTER_TO_ALL_JAN_06.doc

FEES_POLICY_JANUARY_2006_EXAMPLE.doc

example_invoice.xls

BLANK_STANDING_ORDER_FORM.xls

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Thanks Peggy. I realy like the idea of standing orders, never thought of doing that before. Unfortunately I have found that it really doesn't matter how many policies, procedures and/or contracts you get parents to sign, no matter how many different payment options you offer, there are always the odd one or two that are prepared to leave it until the last possible moment to pay. It drives me batty sometimes & we certainly aren't in a deprived area at all. I cant understand it, the very same parents that are moaning about our fees or ignoring our letters are the same ones who hand over for ballet, swimming lessons etc. These all have to be paid in advance or they dont let you in. I have occasionaly wondered whether sitting in fornt of the entrance waving a cash book under there noses and saying No entry unless you pay!! Dont suppose that wold go down very well.

Edited by lynned55
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Thanks Peggy. I realy like the idea of standing orders, never thought of doing that before. Unfortunately I have found that it really doesn't matter how many policies, procedures and/or contracts you get parents to sign, no matter how many different payment options you offer, there are always the odd one or two that are prepared to leave it until the last possible moment to pay. It drives me batty sometimes & we certainly aren't in a deprived area at all. I cant understand it, the very same parents that are moaning about our fees or ignoring our letters are the same ones who hand over for ballet, swimming lessons etc. These all have to be paid in advance or they dont let you in. I have occasionaly wondered whether sitting in fornt of the entrance waving a cash book under there noses and saying No entry unless you pay!! Dont suppose that wold go down very well.

 

 

I think we all know where you are coming from there. :o It's unfortunate that some (and I think the minority) consider paying preschool / nursery fees is a low priority on their list of people to pay. I personally felt this 'attitude' increased with the introduction of free nursery education. It seems harder to understand when the parent is reasonably affluent.

 

I do believe strongly though that settings need to be consistent, clear and strict with regard to fee paying, especially so if parents struggle, any debt is easy for struggling parents to get into, but it is also harder for these parents to get out of any debts, so to 'allow' them to build up a debt is in some ways a dis-service to parents. We need a type of cruel to be kind attitude in a sense. I did feel the sense of gratitude in a way when I become much stricter with my expectations of fees being paid 'on time', yes I had a few parents who for no fault of their own struggled and came to me to re-arrange their payment agreement, but I found that because I had a robust system these parents were more likely to and able to come to me and we worked it out. If I was less robust I do think they would have buried heads in sand and tried to either struggle on or keep their child absent until finances got better, which would be too late as debts would have mounted. I was able to extend the payment period for some parents. My normal system was payments over the length of the term ie: a 15 week term paid over 12 weekly payments, if a paren had problems I would reduce the weekly payment and spread it over the 15 weeks or even extend payments into the holiday weeks, calculating what was due for the whole year and divide by 52. xD (this would have to be done standing order or direct debit)

 

This last alculation is quite useful for parents struggling with the recession, it reduces weekly outgoings, if a child leaves within the year period just calculate how much has been paid, how many weeks attended and invoice for the difference (before the child leaves) the fact that you've offered this facility the parent is grateful and will pay the balance, if not there is the small claims ( although this is not that useful, the initial start of S,C procedures normally gets a debt paid before having to go to court)

 

Good luck I hope you find a solution (although there will always be one that owes) that maintains sustainability and supports parents in managing their finances too. :(

 

Peggy

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this is why I love this forum there is always someone who can help .

I personally think from your posts that as a group we are a pushover we don't always follow the correct procedure mainly because I am a bit of a soft touch . Not anymore will definitely follow all your good advice then maybe we will only lose to just a few who have no intention to pay.

thanks again

sue

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  • 2 weeks later...

We fine our parents for late collection and late payment, if it continues than they would be asked to leave (not happened). We charge £20 per hour if they are late which is broken down into £5 per 15minutes no matter how late e.g. 5 mins late is £5 as is 10mins late, 20 mins late is £10 etc. Only one parent inccurs weekly charges - she is a member of the board!!!

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this is why I love this forum there is always someone who can help .

I personally think from your posts that as a group we are a pushover we don't always follow the correct procedure mainly because I am a bit of a soft touch . Not anymore will definitely follow all your good advice then maybe we will only lose to just a few who have no intention to pay.

thanks again

sue

 

 

You're not alone suewhit, it's our caring nature. xD However, maybe if you focus on the childs needs rather than the parents then maybe this will help you to be a bit more consistent (and tougher). If a parent is 'enabled' (through lack of consistent boundaries re: Paying Fees) to incur higher and higher debts which become unmanagable for the parent, the parent will flee, this in turn affects the child who then has his/her EY experience disrupted through having to re-settle somewhere else, not to mention the loss to the child of relationships built with you and your staff.

 

Food for thought, hope it helps. :o

 

Peggy

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