If child care providers, in general, have a fault, it’s that we can be saps for a sad story. We are caregivers by nature, so we tend to want to make things okay for everyone. Usually that’s a pretty good characteristic, but not so much when we’re talking about collecting fees.
For some reason, there are parents who believe that their child care fees are one of their lowest financial priorities. The mortgage must be paid, the car payment must be made, the gym membership can’t be given up, and the child care fees will be paid if there is money left at the end of the month. And, you know, things come up and the payment will just have to be a little late.
In our business, we have very little recourse if fees aren’t paid. We can’t repossess the care we have provided like someone could repossess a house or car. So, we have to be more like the gym; no pay no entry. Period.
The only way this works is if we have firm financial policies in place. We have to have a rate sheet that explains precisely what we charge for what services. We have to have a solid contract that spells out what services we are providing for what fees, when those fees are due (prior to care being provided), and what will happen if those fees are not paid on time. And, of course, we have to enforce those policies, every single time.
Because we cannot repossess our services, we have to insist that all fees that are rightly due to us be paid in advance. If the fee is not paid by the due date, the child cannot attend. It's as simple as that. It's not mean; it's demonstrating financial responsibility for our staff and our programs.