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There is nothing worse than working your heart out in your in home daycare and having a parent pay late or leave and not pay you at all. So check out these 5 things to include in an in-home daycare payment policy and save yourself the heartache. It’s an important part of running a home daycare that we all need to do.
My friend Adrienne over at Thriving Childcare, who has been an in-home daycare provider for 20 years herself, has written this post to help us all put better practices in place for our home daycare. We have to protect our interests and we don’t want to work for free. This job is a labor of love, but it’s not a volunteer position, we do it to support our families, am I right? So let’s see what advice she has for us.
Daycare Payment Policy
In this post, I will cover why a custom in-home daycare payment policy is a good thing to have for your business. I’ll also cover 5 must-have things to include in your policy. If you are having issues with receiving tuition on time, keep reading.
Back when I started my daycare, I think one of the last things I thought I would have to deal with was having payment issues with my parents. Like most providers, I thought my contract covered everything I needed to address. Fast-forward to a few years later, and I was certain I needed to not only create a specific daycare payment policy but also call attention to it.
Most providers would agree that no matter what they do, they find their clients don’t really read their daycare contract. I’ve even heard of daycare owners going to the extent of putting “easter eggs” within their contract as a way to determine if a parent actually read it.
Years ago, I decided to enhance the chances of at least part of my contract getting read by creating a custom in-home daycare payment policy. I even created it as a separate addendum to my contract.
What is a Daycare Payment Policy?
I just gave you the why, but you might now be wondering what exactly is a daycare payment policy and what should go in it.
Well, let me ask you a question – Do your clients really know what you need them to know about your daycare payment policy?
Even though you probably have that information in your contract, the fact is they probably don’t.
Most clients don’t really read our contracts, they skim it for details. In which case, they may very well skip over important information like your daycare payment policy.
I have found that whether you include your payment policy in your contract or create a stand-alone addendum, having a specific policy is key to potentially avoiding payment issues with parents.
Payment policy template
- What is the tuition payment?
The first, and possibly the most obvious, thing to include in a daycare payment policy would be how much is due or the amount of the tuition payment. Remember, this may be different for clients based on age and/or enrollment status, so it’s important to note the specific tuition payment right here in the agreement. (click the link to get yours!)
- When is payment expected?
Next, right up there with how much the tuition payment is should be when is the payment expected. This may sound obvious as well, but most daycare contracts do not include this basic information.
You’ll also want to include specific information like the frequency of payment, i.e. weekly, monthly, etc. State the day of the week, and the time (at drop-off/pickup) when payment is due.
Don’t be afraid to be very detailed!
- How payment is to be made?
Be sure to include your accepted forms of payments, such as cash, check, credit card, debit payment, etc. Be sure to indicate if there are any additional processing fees for any of your forms of payment.
Consider adding information for what happens if a check or payment is returned NSF. Indicate what additional fees will be added and when only cash payments will be accepted.
- What happens if payment is not received by the due date?
Most providers find that it can be helpful to not only have a due date but a hard cutoff time as well for when payments are considered received on time. This encourages clients to make payments on time.
But also include what the procedure is for when payments are late. Indicate what if any late fee is added.
- When Is A Late Fee Due and How Much Is It?
Speaking of a cut-off (which refers to after which a late fee is due) include what day and time is the latest time when payments can be submitted before they incur a late fee.
Indicate how much the late fee is and in what increments the fee will increase. For example, “A $10 per day late fee will be added each day the tuition payment is late.”
You might also want to include how or where a payment is to be submitted. For instance, is there a payment box where checks are to be placed? Or if payments are electronic, what is your payee information.
Another thing you might consider adding to your payment policy would be what happens if payment isn’t made and when their contract will be terminated due to nonpayment. Usually, this information is included in your contract, but if you are using a separate payment agreement it is a good idea to restate it here as well.
Oh, and if you do create a separate daycare payment agreement, be sure to have your client sign it just like your contract.
There are several reasons why having a specific payment policy in your daycare contract or as a stand-alone document is one of the best ways to ensure parents really understand it.
Be sure to include –
- How much the tuition payment is
- When the payment is expected
- How payments are made
- What happens if payments are late
- When late fees are due
The use of a Daycare Payment Policy can be very helpful in clarifying the how, when and what happens if – surrounding daycare tuition payments in your program. At the very least, it gives the provider a document to refer to when and if there are ever any payment issues with their clients.
Adrienne Bradley is the founder of Thrivingchildcare.com and creator of The Provider Planner & Organizer. She has owned and operated her home daycare in California for over 20 years. Adrienne is passionate about the childcare industry and providing informative and engaging content to fellow childcare providers.
Here are some more provider helps from Adrienne’s shop that will help you find success with your daycare payment policies going forward. And give her a follow while you’re there. She has such a heart to help providers run their businesses:
Obviously, if this continues to be a problem you can’t fix, you may have to terminate care. This is a last resort, but if you need to do it, here are some ideas on how to terminate daycare for a child.
For more information on how to manage your daycare finances, check these out: