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Flexible Payment Of Fees


thumperrabbit
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We will be reveiwing our fees within the next few weeks ready for September.

 

We have always had to do a HUGE amount of fundraising which is getting increasingly more difficult, due to parents either not being interested or because they actually can't afford to keep paying out all the time, but it is also frustrating for the fundraisers when they aren't supported, so to help we feel perhaps having more realistic fees would be the answer.

 

BUT what about those parents who genuinely will struggle, does anyone offer any flexible ways of payment?

We currently charge parents per 1/2 term, but would like to add we aren't in an area of deprivation, but some still have problems.

 

Your thoughts appreciated.

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Over the years I have learned to become tough with parents; I understand completely what you are saying that some are in genuine need and then you get the others who will completely take advantage. I now, with years of experience and "tough up" chats to myself treat everyone as if they are taking advantage. They get reminders and then warnings and then childcarw withdrawn completely, either until they have paid the outstanding amount or if not I pass it on to our credit controllers (fortunately I work for a bigger company and they deal with all that).

 

To put it into perspective; you wouldn't go into Tesco get a whole load of shopping and say can I pay in 3 weeks time or can I pay bit by bit?

 

You are offering a service, presumably your parents know the cost of that service before they sign up for it so presumably they know how much it is going to cost!

 

It's an absolute horrible feeling being tough, I hate it, but at the end of the day we are managing a business (no getting away from it that is what it is!!) so we have to be!!

 

In the past we have set up payment plans whereby outstanding amounts can be split over so many months and this is paid on top of the fees; however, if parents can't pay the fees how are they going to find another x amount on top to clear the debt?

 

I have found that threatening withdrawal of childcare means that the outstanding amount is "found" and paid.

 

Good luck!!

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Hi

 

I believe that fundraising should be for equipment and resources and unexpected expenditure not every day running costs which should be covered by fees. Fewer parents are joining our fundraising committee (though they do a fab job). Staff also give up their time to attend fundraising events.

 

We bill parents monthly but we also allow parents to pay weekly if they require. This helps parents to keep on top of their commitments and us to keep an eye to ensure that parents don't incur too much debt. It is in nobody's interest to allow debts to develop.

 

I have to agree with Janny in that you would buy what you can afford in the supermarket, the same should apply at settings, though I would imagine most people may pay for a weekly shop.

Edited by Deb
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We allow parents to pay session by session - but at the start of the session. They can pay weekly - many prefer to do this. Some pay monthly, some termly/half termly. A couple by internet banking directly into the account.

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Hi

 

I believe that fundraising should be for equipment and resources and unexpected expenditure not every day running costs which should be covered by fees. Fewer parents are joining our fundraising committee (though they do a fab job). Staff also give up their time to attend fundraising events.

 

We bill parents monthly but we also allow parents to pay weekly if they require. This helps parents to keep on top of their commitments and us to keep an eye to ensure that parents don't incur too much debt. It is in nobody's interest to allow debts to develop.

 

I have to agree with Janny in that you would buy what you can afford in the supermarket, the same should apply at settings, though I would imagine most people may pay for a weekly shop.

 

I agree about fundraising for equipment - our brilliant fundraisers have raised £3.5K so far this academic year, but it has all gone on day to day running and craft supplies (that to me is day to day though)

 

It is my thought to perhaps do monthly payments, instead of 1/2 termly as I was thinking that sometimes peoples bills may come towards the end of a month when things maybe getting a little tight, but that will of course mean extra time for writing fee slips to be taken into consideration, along with more checking to be done by the Treasurer.

 

Although seeing as most terms are 6/7 weeks does moving to monthly payments offer parents much help anyway?

 

Thank you for your thoughts, anyone else got anything to add?

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I totally agree with the comment by Janny and have found myself in a situation with a non paying parent recently and had to withdraw childcare.

 

I kept being promised I will pay it later, in the morning, tomorrow etc and so finally after also sending out 4/5 reminders I told her the child could not attend any of his extra "private" sessions until payment made.

 

I hear her tutting on the way out about not being made of money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

But like you said you cant go and shop in Sainsburys or wherever and say I cant pay till next week or tomorrow or whatever.

They were extra sessions and so if you cant pay dont send him!!!!!!

 

OK little moan over now.

I dont like how parents try to take a mile though when you offer to give an inch.

I think I need to toughen up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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we did find weekly payments to work the best for us.. with the occasional monthly payer.. which did cause issues if over a holiday or end of a term falling at end of a month..

 

ours were paid first day attending each week, and we used the envelope system like many of our local schools use for lunch money where they put money inside envelope and name and amount on outside...this was handed to a member of staff on arrival and they put it in a cash tin for the treasurer to sort out. When she was there she collected them, but when not she collected the tin daily...

no cash was held on site so no change could be given, anyone paying more was help over to the next week...Took a while to get parents to realise that they would have to find correct money to give or we rolled it over to following week... but once used to it was a good way of collecting the money.

 

one week no payment was a warning / 2 weeks we did not take the child...

 

but as we were in area of deprivation we would work out different plans if parents needed them.. funnily enough those who did have problems with money were the ones who always paid on time and in advance... those who we knew could afford it were the ones we always had to keep reminding or asking for the money!

 

would 2 weekly payments work..or 3 payment dates in a term.. eg first payment by xxx 2nd one by xxxx last payment by xxxx with a threat of interest added at say 20% of amount outstanding

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Thumperrabbit in answer to your question about paying monthly or half-termly, I think it does help to pay monthly but it does increase the work load. Fortunately we are now computerized so less of a problem. I think paying weekly is the best bet for those parents who struggle.

 

I should add that we charge a £5 administration fee if we send out a reminder letter which is added to the bill. Don't often have to use it, and we try not to, but sometimes we just have to.

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We are a private setting and by all accounts quite expensive! So parents come to us because we are providing a specialised service they really want.

Our fees are collected on the 1st of every month by direct debit, no other form of payment is accepted. We deduct childcare vouchers and of course the over 3's get their 15 hours a week.

Direct debit forms are sent out with the offer of a place and then set up when we receive the acceptance and completed direct debit form.

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Hi Thumperrabbit

 

I charge half-termly in advance - but at the bottom of the invoice I offer 'this invoice may be paid in two instalments if preferred' - have only had two parents take this up.........but I do operate in a fairly affluent area......

 

Have to say I am TOUGH and I mean TOUGH when it comes to late payers - I will remind 'nicely' through the child's daily contact book and then if nothing comes of that, then I'm afraid I think nothing of reminding in front of other parents - I know that's 'naughty' and I did once have an email from a parent saying that she thought that was an awful thing to do - however she has never been late paying again! In over 30 years the most I have ever been owed when a child left pre-school is £7.50 - that was actually 'photo money' after schools photographer had visited and pretty much my fault as I hadn't kept on top of the monies coming in......

 

Hope I haven't tempted fate now! :(

 

Seriously though we are a very small private setting and I simply couldn't cope with any non-payers - it's quite hard enough to keep the wolf from the door as it is xD:o

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My daughters' pre-school let you pay however you want! So by session, by week, by month, by half term or by term, they don't mind. They have a supernumeracy manager, and she records what parents have given her.

 

Close to the end of half term they will write to people with outstanding fees, otherwise not. Weekly fees are given on offer letter.

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We invoice termly but if the invoice is over £200 parents can opt to pay in two instalments. It does state on each invoice that a £10 late fee will be charged if payment has not been paid by given dates and they havn't organised an alternative payment plan with me.

 

We do have a couple of parents that pay weekly which I am happy with but the deal then is that £5 is added with each late payment and lots pay monthly via company voucher schemes.

 

I don't pubically advertise that parents can pay weekly though because with 60+ children on role it would be a logistical nightmare!

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Hi - our parents pay on whichever time scale suits (sessionally, weekly,monthly) on the proviso that all payment is in advance. Most of our parents either pay sessionally or weekly. They can pay at the start of every session and the member of staff records in the payments in book who has paid and how much, the treasurer then logs this against sessions attended. We have had to all learn to be a bit tougher about late or unpaid fees as the economic climate has squeezed finances. It's hard to face uncomfortable issues especially when you know people are genuinely struggling, despite working hard, having tough circumstances etc. However it can also be quite galling when the people who persistently pay late or make excuses seem to be able to find the money to get a new tattoo or spend £500 on a puppy !

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im interested ...what if parents are away do they still pay? we have quite a lot of asian children who go away for up to 6 weeks at a time there is no way i can afford not to charge them for this time. My parents are billed in advance for the term...split into two halfs. They are then advised that if they inform us we will arrange other terms. Late payments get a warning then a charge of £20 added to the debt...if we get no response they are threatened with a solicitors letter(last resort). We have registered for childcare vouchers this year and have found several of our parents have taken up this offer with their employers...it has been really easy to manage and payment is direct to our account... we have to think of ourselves as businessess and money is what pays for us to provide the service.

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im interested ...what if parents are away do they still pay? we have quite a lot of asian children who go away for up to 6 weeks at a time there is no way i can afford not to charge them for this time. My parents are billed in advance for the term...split into two halfs. They are then advised that if they inform us we will arrange other terms. Late payments get a warning then a charge of £20 added to the debt...if we get no response they are threatened with a solicitors letter(last resort). We have registered for childcare vouchers this year and have found several of our parents have taken up this offer with their employers...it has been really easy to manage and payment is direct to our account... we have to think of ourselves as businessess and money is what pays for us to provide the service.

 

Well they would have to if they were with me - but then as you have already read - I'm a meany when it comes to fees! :o

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We pay if we are away, not the fault of the pre-school that we are on holiday and they are holding the place open for us - it costs them the same if dd2 is there or not.

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if away for a long time we gave the option to pay for the place or leave and see if we had a place on their return but be could not guarantee it.. if funded we would also not get any fees for this time so they had to pay a retainer for those sessions as well.

 

That way we could fill the place and get the fees... or keep the place if they paid..

 

surprisingly several did actually pay the fee to keep the place when we offered the option not wanting to risk having no place on their return..

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if away for a long time we gave the option to pay for the place or leave and see if we had a place on their return but be could not guarantee it.. if funded we would also not get any fees for this time so they had to pay a retainer for those sessions as well.

 

That way we could fill the place and get the fees... or keep the place if they paid..

 

surprisingly several did actually pay the fee to keep the place when we offered the option not wanting to risk having no place on their return..

if funded we do get paid ...our borough do not ask for holiday info as yet!

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I run a private day setting and offer weekly and monthly payments and in some cases split the year into 12 equal instalments.

 

I think they key is whatever payment plan you offer you are tough on late payers. I would suggest that if you offer weekly payments then you make sure they are paid weekly in advance.

 

The only downside with weekly payments are that if they decide to disappear into the sunset without giving notice you haven't received the money for that month.

 

I wish I was tougher and only had parents pay monthly in advance by direct debit, but then because of the area my nursery is in, some parents can't afford to pay monthly in advance when they first start, so its a toss up between attracting parents because of our fee plan or risking only having parents that pay monthly up front but getting less parents in.

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Our policy regarding fees for non-attendance are mainly that if the place is available but they choose not to (or unable to) attend then fees are still payable. However, if we are unable to offer the place (e.g. closed due to hall being used as polling station) then fees ( obviously) would not be due.

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Can I just ask on this - if you have a child who gets their 15 hours NEf and then the parent pays for a few extra hours (for example 5 more hours), but fails to pay - when you withdraw the childcare for non-payment, does the child lose just the fee-paying hours or do you also withdraw the NEF place? We have problems with non-payers every year.

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Guest Spiral

We've had issues around payments an d a child whose parents became aggressive towards myself and the staff (and the child followed suit towards us). I was told that if a child receives the funding, there is no way that we would be able to withdraw the child's funded sessions as the contract is between the family and the Council.

 

 

Best of luck with it,

Spiral

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My daughters' pre-school let you pay however you want! So by session, by week, by month, by half term or by term, they don't mind. They have a supernumeracy manager, and she records what parents have given her.

 

Close to the end of half term they will write to people with outstanding fees, otherwise not. Weekly fees are given on offer letter.

 

Could this method not leave you open to not knowing who was/wasn't attending, and how many staff you would need etc?

Or are they allocated their days and they still have to pay even if they don't come?

I'm intrigued

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Could this method not leave you open to not knowing who was/wasn't attending, and how many staff you would need etc?

Or are they allocated their days and they still have to pay even if they don't come?

I'm intrigued

 

Everyone comes on their alloted days (or pays anyway). Think we are meant to give 4 weeks notice of holidays. I don't think having a fleible payment system affects attendance.

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tricky issue. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this before, but families who are really struggling, might get Working Tax credit, which will then also pay for up to 80% of their child care cost. Maybe some parents aren't aware of that option?

 

x Titania

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