Can a family child care provider charge a parent a late pick-up fee if the parent picks up before your closing time?
Yes, if that’s what is in your contract.
Some providers have set operating hours. So, if you are open from 6pm to 5pm, parents can bring their child anytime during these hours.
Other providers will contract with each family for the hours that they will offer care. Contracted hours can vary from one family to the next. You might want to set different hours for different families because you are getting tired near the end of the day and don’t want as many children. Or, your own children come home from school and you must reduce the number of children in your care after 3pm.
A provider once told me that she does not believe in offering care if either parent could care for the child. So, she asks parents for their work schedule and sets her hours accordingly. In other words, if the parent gets off work at 5pm and can get to her home by 5:30pm, that’s her pick up time, regardless of whether or not she is caring for other children beyond that time.
Because it’s your business, you can set whatever hours you want for each parent in your program. That means you can have different drop-off and pick-up times for each parent.
Enforcing Your Pick-Up Time
It sometimes can be difficult to enforce your pick-up time when your contracted hours differ from one parent to the next. A parent who must pick up her child by 5pm may not understand why she has to pay a late pick-up fee after that time when she sees you are caring for other children after 5pm.
To try to prevent misunderstandings, your contracted hours should be clearly spelled out in your contract. Some providers don’t list their general hours of operation to reduce confusion. If you do list your general hours of operation (6am – 6pm) make sure you also say that you will establish specific drop-off and pick-up times with each parent.
So, if a parent has contracted with you to pick up her child at 5pm and is late to pick up, you can charge a late fee even if you are caring for other children past 5pm who have a later pick up time.
If the parent complains about this, say, “Your rate is based on the times we agreed to in our contract. If you would like to change your contract time we can discuss this and possibly change in your rate.” You can tell the parent you won’t change the pick up time. Or, you can say you will extend the pick up time, but the parent will have to pay a higher rate.
It’s not illegal discrimination to have different pick up times (or drop off times) for different parents. It would be illegal if you set your hours based on a person’s race, sex, religion, ethnic background, national origin or disability.
On average, providers care for children eleven hours a day. That’s a long work day. Make your work schedule work for you.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mliu92/
For more information, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.
Categories: Contracts & Policies