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I manage a Nursery and have a parent who has now bounced 5 cheques in one year. I have tried working out payment plans, giving her the information about debt counselling at Citizens Advice, and believing her stories about unexpected payments going out and Tax credit mix ups.


I have written her a letter to back up talking to her and have asked her to pay the debt in full, in cash, before we will have her child in again. She said that she might be able to get some of it. The seriousness does not appear to have registered with her. I find the paperwork a nightmare with the accounts when cheques bounce and really have not got the time to keep doing this.


What would anybody else suggest?



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I agree this is a horrible situation for all involved.


Sadly, I think if you say the child cannot attend it may well result in you not seeing mum or the money owed.


We haven't had a case of so many bounced cheques from one parent but we do have the odd one or two who now pay in cash every week.


For those that have outstanding fees we have come to an arrangement they can afford on a weekly basis, this amount is added to the usual weekly cost and paid in cash weekly.


This agreement has been reached on the basis that if they don't maintain the agreement the child will be unable to attend. So far it has worked and I really hope it doesn't come to the child not being able to come as to be honest I am not 100% sure I could go through with it!


At the moment it is OK, weekly fees are paid and the arrears are reducing as agreed.


Please don't think I am being critical because I really do understand your position but I am not too keen on refusing/stopping a child's place because Mum can't/won't pay. Dire finances can be quite stressful and I just think the child benefits so much from preschool it is a shame to deny him/her a place when they are the innocent party.


Really a case of no easy answer I suppose, sorry not much help!

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we too ask for cheque guarantee card with fees.


although we usually have other issues with fee payments. i dont know if its because we are committee run, but are fees are ment to be paid 2 weeks in advance (as policy states) but some parents dont pay till the last day of term. but then again, they are never chased up, and i dont have time to do it.


our policy also states "you may" inccur a £10.00 charge for returned cheques


i too dont like to say the child cannot attend, as its not there fault, but most parents seem to rather pay up than have their child at home!! but i have done it for constant non payers.


in the past 9 years i have been at my setting, we have had 6 families leave the village without paying a penny, one was for over £120.00. committee write to them and threaten small claims court, but its never followed though.

the worst thing was 2 years ago, a friend of mine you used to bring her child to the group, was standing outside with the other parents and heard one say to the other " dont worry about paying, cos they just write it off if you dont" i suprised anyone paid after that.


i still think its because committee run groups ( even worse being in a village hall) are still seen as just somewhere to get rid of the kids for the day, and some, mine included dont have any proffessional skills to show they know what their doing - but thats another post!!!

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Hi don't if it helps but have you contacted the Dad in this situation . I have also rung Grandparents saying that I am trying to contact the mother as we need to discus the payments. I know it's a bit devious but sometimes you have to find a way to get the money. If not try a solicitors letter, they will write one for a small fee. telling that you are going through the small claims court. Sometimes you need to put on a bit of pressure. Hope it helps. good luck.

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Each time that parents cheques were bounced they would have incurred a "charge" from their bank/building society of about £30 per cheque bounced, so on top of their fee debt, they also have a debt of £150 to pay back to the bank. xD


I think there are different perspectives;


1. Parents who are not skilled at managing their finances, but who are not necessarily in extreme financial hardship/debt.


2. Parents who are are not skilled at managing their finances and who are just trying to keep on top of a mountain of debts, paying the people who demand the loudest/hardest - through not just threat but actual court action.


3. Parents who undervalue the service and disrespectfully just try to "get away with it" (as described by ruthie)


4. Parents who are none of the above but sometimes forget to ensure enough funds are in their bank to honour cheques.



When I worked in a committee run group, which is normally of charitable status, I made it clear to the committee and parents that if fees are to be waived then it must be with the agreement of all members of the charity, no one person ( or small group of people) had the right to decide that debts to the charity could be waived. In otherwords ALL parents would have to agree the debt could be waived. Without this policy, It opens up the possiblilty that individual people who make this decision could be accused of gaining charitable funds through deceipt, ie: The person/s who waived the fees debt could have been rewarded by the parent owing fees. I know this is not the case but by giving this scenario it made the committee and parents realise that any monies ( income or expenditure) had to be accounted for and justified, because of the charitable status of the group.


Rather than waiving the fees completely the committee could agree to fund places from a "Grant fund", to parents who met particular agreed criteria. This would have to be agreed at an AGM.


If the child is in receipt of the Educational grant, you wouldn't be able to not allow the child to attend, so this "threat" is only valid before eligable age to the Ed grant. If a child was excluded this could also contravene the convention for childrens rights.



I understand the frustrations of non payers but discussing fees with grandparents is surely a breach of confidentiality policy. I have previously used the small claims court procedure, the parents are sent a letter before court proceedings take place giving them the opportunity to pay the debt, and I don't recall it costing anything, ( the parent paid up, so didn't need to go to court) so this may be another option than paying a solicitor. Also maybe a letter from the groups accountant may help without incurring cost.


I am a privately owned business, I invoice parents at the beginning of term and they have the option to pay by cheque, standing order, direct debit or phone banking. We are based in a deprived area but all the parents who attend the group have a bank account. No finances are handled in the preschool setting, the manager has no dealings with fees, so we do not take cash.

Parents send their cheques to me at my home address ( head office) if paying by cheque, and they want to pay by instalments, they are asked to write post dated cheques for the whole term ie: if the fees for the term totals £100, they send me 10 x £10 cheques ( dated in consecutive weeks), or 5 X £20 ( fortnightly dates).

I do encourage parents to use standing orders, I send the forms out with the invoices. The main reason for this is that the bank charges me more to pay in cheques, compared to internet or standing order payments.


My invoices state that fees accounts are checked every month and any arrears will incur a charge of 15% of the outstanding amount, and that they may lose the right to pay fees in instalments. You do have to maintain accounts and carry this through ( just like banks incur charges for going over your overdraft).


I do appreciate that families have financial difficulties and I would discuss these confidentially with parents and most often suggest that they reduce their childs number of sessions until they are more able to afford the fees.

I do however think that our fee charges are heavily subsidised by the people who own, volunteer (committees) and work (staff) in preschools and that parents need to understand that we all work hard to keep fees low. I help them put this into perspective- our fees for a 3 hour session of childcare and education equates to the same cost of;

a 4 minute car wash, or

2 films ordered from sky movies, or

(dare I say it, as a smoker) 30 cigarettes, or :(

(dare I say it as a drinker) 3 pints of beer. :(



I have also found out in the past that parents who have left with fees debts have claimed this money from childcare tax credits :o


I give all my parents as much information as possible about WFTC and childcare element, a variety of payment methods, a listening ear for parents facing difficulties with a true understanding as I once was a single parent on benefits who couldn't afford fees. I was offered a free place for my son in return for working for the preschool he attended, that's how I became who I am now.


Sorry for the long reply but I think this subject does evoke strong feelings and sometimes a sense of despair.


Teri, I hope you've been able to find some sort of help amongst my rambling, basically "be cruel to be kind" when it comes to fees ensure everyone knows what is expected from them and where they stand in the event of not paying. Good luck. oh, and be consistent and fair. :D




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