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JellyJo
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Hi

 

I'm new here so I would like to apologise if this has already been discussed (couldn't find anything).

 

Anyway - I am a manager of a small pack away pre-school. We run on 98% capacity at the moment (will be less from September obviously).

We have started charging £25 refundable deposit from all newly registered families in order to secure their place. The decision was made by the committee in order to avoid 'ghost' places never being taken up. We had a few cases when a family has been on the list for January or April, we kept the place booked in Autumn and turned people away and then - the place hasn't been filled as the family changed their mind!

The £25 is not for financial gain or to cover costs of admin around the cancellation, but to make people realise that if they register for the place they should really do it when they intend to take it not just to keep their options open.

 

So far nobody objected paying a deposit as this seems to be a common practice. BUT - we have been told by our Children's Link Development Officer that we are not allowed to charge deposit (or anything for that matter) from funded children at all.

 

My question is - have you had similar problem? Do you take deposit from your fully funded families? Surely it should be one rule for all - but then we're back to square one!

 

Any advice will be greatly appretiated.

 

Thanks

 

Jo

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Hi Jo, welcome to the forum :D:D

 

We charge a £10 deposit when they register their interest. If they change their mind we refund it, if they dont, we keep the money and give them a T-shirt when they start with us. I checked with our EY dept. a few years ago when someone else had been told they couldnt do it and were told it was up to us and because it was a standard charge we could argue that its not discriminatory.

 

I cant think of any other profession that has its finances dictated by outside agencies, it drives me mad, we're hardly rich are we?!

Edited by Rea
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In our area it was not allowed.....no charge at all for a funded child..not one to refund, or anything.. .. we could charge for children who were starting before funding but not those who were waiting for it to start.. got far too complicated so we ditched it totally...

 

but we did not keep places open , but filled them , so we admitted on age, not necessarily how long they had been on the waiting list, or how far in advance they booked, as we found those who booked early were often the ones who did not turn up, moved, changed their mind etc.. our policy did however allow us to keep a place for a sibling if a child was already attending... so parents could know there was a place for both children in one place...

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Hi JellyJo (love your username) welcome to the forum.......

 

Sadly, I don't think that you are allowed to charge a deposit for 'funded children' - my understanding is that it all has to be completely 'free at the point of delivery'........it's a big 'swizz' really - I believe we should be allowed to do this but hey ho!!! :1b

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Thanks for all your comments.

 

One should think it's obvious we must protect the business and occupancy side of things, but as sunnyday said - Hey Ho!

 

I shall look into my policy and start again!

 

JellyJo is what I used to be called by the kids many years ago in my first ever childcare job ;)

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We were told (last year) that we could charge as small 'admin fee' as long as we were clear that it was an 'admin fee' and in no way a deposit/holding fee etc. It can only be a realist amount to cover paperwork ie printing, phone calls and postage + the small amount of office time needed to do said things.

 

We charge a £15 admin fee, however if a funded child requests a place and we can offer there/then any hours- then no fee is charged, although at this point we do get them to sign the FEEE paperwork straight away if poss. Our LA are getting better at getting the forms our earlier now which is helpful. Meaning that any that have been offered places for this September have already signed an agreement.

 

The families that do pay the £15 get a t-shirt when starting though.

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We have charged a 'holding' fee for many, many years. It was payable once they had been offered and accepted the place and like others was to stop 'ghost' places and was deducted off their first set of fees. It is £30, has been for around 5/6 years now. When the funding code of practise first said that funded places had to be free at point of delivery we asked the Head of our LA's early years and she said that as long as we were refunding it then that was fine. It has proved impractical to refund to some (funded) and not to others (unfunded) and grossly I feel, unfair.

So we now charge a £30 deposit (as above) and this is returned during their last half term with us (for a lot of them that is two years later) To be honest, I do still wonder if we should be doing it but as it was the 'top gun' that told us we could who am I to argue- besides I'm past caring now- no one has ever complained and anyway who is going to come and shut us down over it?

When I think of what some groups I know of around my area get away with, if that is the worst thing we do well............

Like Rea- I am sick of being told what we can and cant do financially.

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Like Rea- I am sick of being told what we can and cant do financially.

 

Me too - I really can't think of any other business that is dictated to like this - honestly have you ever tried to explain the system to anyone outside of early years - sure they think we're making it up as we go along :ph34r: :blink: xD

 

Next week there will be a 'review' of hire charges for the building that I operate from - shock horror - charges will increase of that I have no doubt :( and where am I meant to find the extra from :blink: the really annoying thing is that 'my parents' would, I think, happily stump up some 'top up' fees........

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We charge £25 admin fee (non refundable) for children who put their name down to take up a place before funding kicks in (eg those under 3) this has been agreed by our LEA but i know different councils have different thoughts on this one...you'll need to check locally.

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we are not allowed to charge anything for children that are funded -although we used to charge a £10 admin fee but were told we couldn't even do this for funded children so it became a pain working out who should pay or not pay so we gave up.Now dont charge anybody and although we still get ghost places and we lose out it is the way it has to be here.

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its really not that difficult to work out....if i have someone ask for a place before the term after their child's third birthday they pay if they want to book a place for september say and the child will be 3 then we dont charge...simples! (also the funded 2's are the same!)

Nearly all our places are for september so if they are 3 then no charge otherwise we ask for admin...we are a not for profit charity so i tend to suggest it is a donation to the cause! I have never had anyone refuse and i often get parents of 3 year olds trying to force it on me!.

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Hi again,

 

thanks for all your comments. Food for thought!

 

I have looked at the official SfYC guidelines for funding and it says black on white - funded children must not be charged for anything. Not a deposit, no admin fee, nothing.

 

My business manager and I are looking through our policy and comparing it with your suggestions here. We will come up with something acceptable by LA, I'm sure.

 

Thanks

 

Jo

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Me too - I really can't think of any other business that is dictated to like this - honestly have you ever tried to explain the system to anyone outside of early years - sure they think we're making it up as we go along :ph34r: :blink: xD

 

I cannot even get my husband to fully understand- I was saying just the other day that when this pension thing kicked in I wasn't sure how settings like ours would or could cope with it financially. He said 'Well you will just have to explain to parents and put fees up' me- we cant - him- dont be daft of course you can- me - no we cant, we're not allowed. him- You must be wrong- thats a ridiculous situation- I've never heard of a business that wasn't allowed to charge it's customers' You get my drift- he really didn't believe me, he thinks I must have it wrong!!

Next week there will be a 'review' of hire charges for the building that I operate from - shock horror - charges will increase of that I have no doubt :( and where am I meant to find the extra from :blink: the really annoying thing is that 'my parents' would, I think, happily stump up some 'top up' fees..

 

Of course they would - which is the most ridiculous thing of all- and if they didn't want to, could exercise their 'parental choice' and go elsewhere!!

However I'm sure they wouldn't!!

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Next week there will be a 'review' of hire charges for the building that I operate from - shock horror - charges will increase of that I have no doubt :( and where am I meant to find the extra from :blink: the really annoying thing is that 'my parents' would, I think, happily stump up some 'top up' fees........

Sunnyday can you increase your hours at all? in theory if you can increase by 15 minutes then you can levy a charge.

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Thanks finleysmaid and Rea - I understand the options - I'm just having a 'kick' at the ridiculous (well it is to me) funding system..........d'you remember how we all got 'suckered' into this in the first place? I do - it was all soooooo wonderful because 'back in the day' we were being offered more than we 'charged' per hour (well most/some of us anyway) but what we didn't know was that it was never, ever going to keep pace with all the other rising costs and commitments that we all have :(

So there we have it - just one of my MIss Rantypants moments! :ph34r:xD :rolleyes:

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I think I am spotting some discrimination here. If you can't charge a deposit surely you can't be expected to hold a space for a funded child. So those parents who can afford to take up places before funding kicks in are more likely to be able to take up all the places before funded children get a look in. Of course this is assuming there are fee paying parents around, but it does mean that they get first pick of the places.

 

Just saying.

 

Honey

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Our children are placed on the waiting list when they apply, that also states which sessions they want which are held whether they start at 2.5 or 3. They are offered a place as soon as they're 2.5 but can wait until they're funded. None of ours lose out.

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Sorry, should have said 'room for discrimination'. I did mean it somewhat tongue in cheek. It really doesn't seem fair that the funding is set out so that Early Years providers are asked to work like the NHS without the support of civil service terms and conditions for staff and providers. I can only afford to provide one funded place, but I'd rather take a fee paying family if they're applying - even if it's only for a term or so before funding kicks in. Is that discrimination? Yeah, I think so, but it's business. I'm not a charity. Playgroup may have charitable status but you still have to pay the rent.

 

I should say I receive £1 an hour less for my FFE place than fee paying.

 

Honey

Edited by HoneyPancakes
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We used to charge a deposit and then were told we couldn't. In theory we could for those not on funding but that didn't sit well as a registered charity. Ours also get a free book bag when they start.

I have started only reserving places for September. We have a lot of children who get their funding in January this year and I have made it clear that I will keep their preferences in mind but cannot guarantee that extra hours will be there as we simply cannot keep 9 children's (waiting on an extra 4 sessions each) open if there is someone willing to pay or on funding. I hate doing it but it's the way to financial suicide and definite staff layoffs. Previously we had saved spaces but then realized no one else did and that legally we were only obliged to give what there was available.

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" In theory we could for those not on funding but that didn't sit well as a registered charity. "

 

we are also a charity which is why i charge. I often describe it as a donation to the cause! We keep the admin charge ...it is not a deposit. This helps us to pay for paperwork stanps and the administrator

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Hello,

 

I have heard of this problem many times. We state on our application

 

'Please attach a copy of your child’s birth certificate and bring a proof of address with a voluntary

£10 registration fee which is non refundable. Please make cheques payable ...... '

 

Not all parents give a contribution and we cant make them and we haven't had any problems.. so far :D

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We have noticed a trend over the past year of more parents asking to wait until funding kicks in. However as someone else has said we can only say maybe, if nobody else wants it. If we did it for more than a couple of places then it really would be financial suicide to say yes. So we say the same to everyone. Come & see us when your funding starts and we will see- invariably we dont have the places left or they change their mind and pay. Harsh- but necessary.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have just been reading this as today i have just had to chace again after 2nd phone call 4 children starting in sept not sent reg forms back. 3 have said decided to take place else where. So frustrating cost of postage time and photocopying. How do i avoid this.

Buttercup

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