How to Make Payment Policies for Childcare
Payment policies are super important. It’s even more important to set your payment policies BEFORE you need them. You and everyone you are serving in your business needs to have a good idea of what to expect from the business relationship. You as the provider are in charge of this business and you are the one who can make it a success or a failure.
The number one thing I see providers doing is not running their childcare like a business. Providers, in their nature are lovers and givers. They are big-hearted people who want to help people. If you give people discounts because you feel sorry for them and then you can’t pay your bills, who are you helping? That’s not good for that family because you as a stressed-out provider who can’t pay her bills, are not going to be giving your best in care for their children. Payment policies will help with this tremendously.
Guess what else? You WILL end up resenting them. You’ll see them with a new tattoo or on Facebook at the zoo or a concert and you’ll be saying, I can’t afford a concert because I didn’t get my full pay from them and then just look at them living it up! Stick to your payment policies.
Another thing I have found after 21 years of providing care. If you give people a break, they will expect more and more breaks until they because a source of stress for you. It’s your business, treat it like a professional business.
What kind of payment policies should you have?
No pay, no stay. If you have a family that constantly doesn’t want to give up your paychecks, you may ask them how they would like working at a job where they had to chase their boss around and beg for money. I bet they wouldn’t keep working for that person. Will you? Parents can forget and asking for a check occasionally is understandable. People are busy and can get distracted. If you care for someone’s children 40-50 hours a week, they SHOULD make you and your paychecks a priority!
I have seen so much burnout because of this problem. Don’t let it be a problem. It’s up to you to make sure you get paid. If you have trouble asking for your money because it’s embarrassing, send parents a text. Another idea is to make a payment board and put everyone’s name on it and mark it off when they pay. People are more likely to pay when they don’t want to be the one who didn’t.
Tom Copeland says to say; “I need a check from you” so you don’t have to say give me my money. Maybe there is wording you can use to make it easier for you. Your pay should not be negotiable to parents. They either pay, or they don’t have childcare.
Get paid in advance.
Parents should pay for care before it is given. For example, you can have all of your parents pay on Friday for the following week. When I arrange payments, I allow each family to choose their paydays for me. The key is, they HAVE to stick to it. If you say every other Friday, then it’s every other Friday so I can budget my money to pay my bills.
Many providers don’t like parents paying at different times and they have everyone pay on a set day, such as Monday. If you want to set one day that everyone has to pay, it’s your business, do it. You are in charge of your business. Run it like one and you will be happier day to day.
What about time off?
You should never allow parents to not pay when their children are absent. I have seen providers give a free week every year. I have also seen them scrape to pay their bills that week. If kids are sick or families go on vacation, it’s not up to you to fund that. They pay for the spot and there shouldn’t be any surprises.
What about paid holidays?
Do your parents get them at their jobs? I’m willing to bet most of them do. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be paid for your holidays. New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and even the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are all days you should not have to take unpaid. You can have it in your contract and your parents will know ahead of time. Take that time for you and enjoy it.
What about your time off?
This one is negotiable. I take a lot of time off because I’m old and I need it. I found out years ago that I am able to be an awesome provider if I give myself breaks. When I take no time off, that’s great for the parents, but not as great for the kids. I am grouchy, tired and stressed out when I don’t rest. I take at least 15 days per year off, usually more. I have in my contract 15 days is the least.
Many providers get paid for their vacations and I think that’s great. It’s a good idea. I want to treat people how I would want to be treated so I just don’t. They may have to pay another provider during my absence or any number of things. I plan my vacation days for the year in January and my parents know all year when I will be closed. If they don’t have back up they need to use a center for care. I am just one person and I need days off.
I know at the beginning of the year that I won’t be paid those days so I can budget ahead of time. It works for me. I put money back each week so I will have money for when I’m off. You need to do what works for you. I have seen many providers say they charge more per day to cover their days off so they can put money back. Not everybody is a saver, so if that won’t work for you, then charger for your days off. You need to do what you need to do.
Follow the rules.
Obviously if you keep DHS subsidy kids, you can’t charge them for any of your days off. If they are on a weekly rate, you may get paid if they don’t miss too much, but other than that, you are at the mercy of DHS. Please don’t charge them. It’s illegal and I don’t want you to get in trouble.
I know it seems harsh to talk turkey about money, but being stressed out about money is the number cause for burnout in childcare and in life. Make your money work and you will make your business work. Most caregivers are not made for the business side. They are nurturers. You have to be both in this business or you won’t last.
Taking care of your interests is the best way to have a long successful career. Be the best you you can be by taking care of these problems before they arise. You need to have a signed contract that lays these guidelines out for your families or you will always be chasing your tail. Run your business with your head and you will have plenty of energy to give your heart to the kids.
Click here for more information about writing contracts and policies.
Don’t forget to pin for later.