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Updating policies time! a child leaves with an outstanding balance


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Ok so its policy update time argghhhh :( but onwards and upwards!

I was wondering when updating our non-payment of fees policy -

How many of you state in your policy that you will inform the next provider (early years only) of arrears being left on a child's account?

Not the actual amount and not that the other nursery shouldn't take the child on, just so that they can be cautious so that the family does not run up another bill at the new setting. A setting in Nursery World stated they did so a while back and I thought it was a good idea (all for one and all that) as no matter how hard you try to be in getting fees in sometimes it doesn't work and a bit of give and take is required but if you know this particular family do struggle in paying their bills then you can keep an eye on them by ensuring things are manageable for them, not letting fees build up (enforcing non payment policy more strictly) therefore trying to ensure another early years move does not occur in turn protecting the child from numerous early years moves and supporting the family to not let things get out of control again.

I was initially dubious about the sharing of information but its not specific information and if parents sign up to it! also after seeing it in nursery world it got me thinking so started to look at imposing it at our setting. I think now the time has come to add it in !!!

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As much as I agree with the idea of this, I think confidentiality policies would forbid this, I would be very wary of telling another setting (even though I would benefit from knowing about others) but I would worry that I was passing on confidential information without consent, I guess this comes down to whether or not non payment of fees is the settings information or the family's information? tough one! xx

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Yes i agree completely I have drafted the policy but to ensure it doesn't go wording wise against anything i'm checking with our PLA legal advisors, its also drafted to go in our parental contract so its cross referenced and signed for by the parent but to be sure i'm checking it through before it goes live so to speak in September. It was well over a year ago a read the article and have researched it many a times since but to no avail but in the current times and in the move to universal credit I think sometimes we have to protect children as its going to get really tough in my opinion for struggling families to keep up. Our fees are minimal and a very small part of our income but I feel for the children who do have repeated early years moves due to building up fees :(

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Hello,

Its frustrating when fees don't come in after gentle reminders. We have used a weekly or a regular payment system before which worked for some parents who struggle with budgeting and organising their finances.

If it was in your policy a parent may be more willing to say they are in financial situation and you could work together on it. Maybe the manager or admin/finance person needs to be a designated person so the parents only deal with one person that is separate to their child's needs. When working with our parents who had a payment plan it was dealt with highly confidentially and even the key person would not have been aware.

By the way we don't have a policy in place and unpaid fees only happen rarely.

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Thanks Narnia for that.

This is not about getting the money for us as our fees are very low and a very, very small part of our income around 5 paying parents the others are all fel which is different in line with larger nurseries. We have not had any children leave with an unpaid bill that is a large amount just a few pounds here and there but after going through the court process in my previous job even when a court awards you the money you still very rarely get it back so this isnt really an option for the amount of money a parent may end up owing us. Our payment system would not allow a family to run up a kind of bill that would even warrant a court order. We did have a child a few years ago that left us with an outstanding balance small but obviously not small to her, payment plans were put in place etc then the child left and went to another setting, they then did same there then moved to another setting to which I heard no more so it could happen again and again! if I had it wrote at that point then maybe just maybe the new setting could have been aware and supported the family in the appropriate way as they would have been aware therefore stopping the repeated early years move (fingers crossed).

We had another incident last year where a childminder told us a parent she had that was joining us was not great at paying so I straight away focused on my relationship with her to build a solid foundation and kept a very close eye on her account which was £5.00 per week and my main concern was that i didn't want to add to her problems I also knew on the induction to go through quite in depth finances ensuring she was claiming everything she could and that housing etc was ok, for me I didn't take this information from the childminder as being vindictive just a prompt for me to ensure i did all i could from the outset for this family. I suppose it depends what your view is to how you would receive such information. We all know we are not in this for the money the only reason we are in this job is for the love of it and doing right by the children and their families.

 

Thanks for all your replies i'm checking my wording with PLA legal. Im sure another policy will come up where I post another question lol :D I must, I must keep going the end is insight (just)

Edited by Rochelle
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sorry but i think this is a bit vindictive! after all it's not going to help you get the money in is it? i think there are some things we just have to let go! ;)

I'm with fm - not something that I would want to get into at all.......

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I guess what you are assuming here though Rochelle is that people who do not pay are those who cannot.....i'm not convinced that this is the case! If a family was desperately in need then i would (and do!) do everything in my power to keep them with me (including reducing bills and even writing them off) ....but with all policies they have to be relevant to everyone and we have had parents in the past who have not paid bills because they just didn't want to....that's a different issue entirely IMO!

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Hi Rochelle,

Yes we are a small setting also and the fees just go towards benefiting the children. Our payment plans have been similar to yours where £5 or £10 is paid on a regular basis which most often is paid cash so is more hassle but it helps the family. Also if the parent's income is spontaneous it would give the option to discuss pre payments etc so it may open that dialogue with them.

We have also found some grandparents wish to pay for an extra session above the funded hours and even to mention childcare vouchers in your policy could introduce these options - which parents may not automatically consider.

I do not think anyone would mention unpaid fees in a vindictive way but if your setting knew a parent had previous difficulties could there be additional support you could offer - we set up a bursary system where families for what ever reason did not qualify for two yr old funding so only took 1 short session and then we could offer an extra session in our preschool, which was to benefit the child. I suppose its really about getting to know your families needs and building that trust.

Having said that there will always be people who knowingly take up sessions that they never intend to pay for. We have had a few of those in the past.

Good luck writing up your policy

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Lovely idea silvermist!!! I think that will be going to the board next meeting, we are a registered charity and do give everything we can back to the community in various ways this may now be another :D

finsleymaid yes I agree definitely completely different kettle of fish those that can but don't and those that carnt we come across more families that simply cannot pay so I always view things from that side more I guess but our policy does cover all aspects and people.

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