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Charging Extra to Families that Pay by Credit Card

Pay by Credit CardA question we’ve been hearing more of lately is: “Can I charge an extra fee to families that use a credit card to pay for child care services?”

We’re pleased to have Dan Richards, from the Procare Tuition Express team, to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Surcharge Rules are Changing

As of January 27, 2013, the rules prohibiting surcharging of Visa and MasterCard transactions by merchants are changing. Though the changes allow you to pass fees on to your customers (on certain cards) we believe the rules are cumbersome and that managing the surcharges for your child care business would be difficult. Continue reading

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Subsidized Child Care: Now Accepting Deposits

Holding a Garbage BagWhen it comes to subsidized child care, have you ever been caught holding the bag? That is, being responsible for a financial shortfall because someone else did not live up to their end of the bargain. Perhaps a family left without making the co-payment for their final month. Or, maybe your state agency paid less than expected and you’re unable to collect the remaining balance from the parents. In either case, it’s an unenviable situation to find yourself in when child care services have already been provided and you’re left with little chance of getting paid.

In order to provide a quality early childhood experience for all the children in your care, each family needs to pay their share. When you’re not collecting full payment for subsidized care, that impedes your ability to keep good teachers, maintain the playground, provide enrichment programs, offer healthy snacks, etc;  the list goes on and on.

So what could you do to keep from getting stuck holding the bag? Last week, we talked about taking Deposits for Summer Child Care. This week we’ll take the deposit concept further and show you how to make sure subsidized care gets paid in full.

Daycare Policies & Subsidized Care

In order to ensure payment, consider adopting a policy that requires a deposit. The deposit would be paid in advance and used to cover the co-payment for their last month. In other words, when a family eventually leaves the center their prepaid deposit would be refunded to pay their final month of child care. Continue reading

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Tuition Payment Reminders for Your Daycare Center

The ideal child care billing situation would be one where every parent is aware of a looming tuition payment deadline, and is prepared when that day arrives with a check that covers each day of child care provided, as well as factoring fees for late pickup and similar infractions.  

As nice as this sounds, it is rarely the case. The parents your child care center serves are busy. It is unlikely that they will remember every payment, let alone track hours and accrued fees on their own spreadsheet.

It can be difficult to remind parents of their overdue child care bills. Drop-off and pickup times are always hectic as care providers monitor kids, gather their belongings, and prepare them for the beginning / end of the day, while parents hurry off to work or to get their kids home for the night.

Because this is often the only face-to-face time care providers get with parents, incorporating  daycare attendance software that can also display tuition payment reminders is valuable.

Child Care Payments

Use Check-In Messages as Tuition Payment Reminders

If left unchecked, a family’s balance due can build up over time, making collection of larger balances difficult and time consuming. Using the Attendance Tracker messaging feature of Procare Software®, you can remind parents they need to make a payment if their balance exceeds a certain amount. Because the Attendance Tracker also knows exactly when students were checked in and out, the center can easily charge fees for extra hours and late pickups.

Of course another option, to make sure you are paid on time – every time, is to use Tuition Express™ to collect payments electronically, but we’ll save that for another article.

How Does it Work?

Video: Check-In Message for Balance Due

You’ll simply create a recurring message to appear at the Computer Check-In Station for any parents whose balance is greater than a certain dollar amount, say $50.  This message will only be displayed when their balance exceeds that amount.

To create the message begin at the main screen Procare Family Data:

  1. Go to Functions –> Attendance Tracker –> Messages.  Click New at the bottom.
  2. On the Message screen under Type of Message select the option Current Balance and set the ‘greater than or equal to’ amount to whatever you’d like, say $50.
  3. Choose an End Date far into the future, and mark Show Always – that way the message will appear any time the balance amount is exceeded, until the future date is reached.
  4. In the box below, type the message that you’d like your payers to read, for example:

“Attention! Your payment is past due. Please speak with the office manager to make payment arrangements as soon as possible.”

Final Thoughts

It can be easy for parents to forget about an upcoming payment. While this is understandable, child care providers can’t let it slide. In order to run a successful child care program, there has to be a consistent cash flow on a monthly basis.

An easy way to send child care billing reminders to parents is through your check-in interface. This is beneficial to your center as it ensures consistent cash flow, and to parents as it keeps past due balances from becoming unmanageably high.

Related Articles

Want to learn more about managing child care billing? Check out these related articles:

 

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Get to Know the Real ProCare Software

danToday we’re starting a new blog series that will highlight different members of the ProCare Software team. We would like to give you, our readers and ProCare users, a small glimpse into who it is that makes ProCare tick.

We start our series with a Santa story written by our Tuition Express Marketing Director, Dan Richards.

Continue reading

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