What should you charge for caring for children?
Child care rates vary widely primarily by geographic area. The more affluent neighborhood you live in, the more you can charge.
However, within your neighborhood your rates should match the quality of the care you offer.
Unfortunately, many family child care providers make the mistake of setting their rates according to the “average” rate in their community.
The problem with an “average” rate is that there are many providers charging a lot more and many charging a lot less. There is usually a wide gap between the lowest and highest rate for every age group in family child care.
Therefore, your rates should only be “average” if the quality of your care is average.
If your quality is “high”, your rates should be in the top 20th percentile of rates in your area.
Some providers keep their rates low to help out low-income parents. This is admirable. Other providers only care for subsidized children, so they have no control over what they can earn.
If you want to make more money
For those providers who want to make more money, it’s important to be able to identify the benefits of your program and communicate them to parents. See my article, “How to Identify the Benefits of Your Program.”
The more benefits you offer parents, the easier it will be to charge more for your services.
Some providers will say, “If I charge more, parents will leave (or new parents won’t enroll) and go to another provider who charges less.” That may happen. However, there are always providers charging less (and more!) than you. If you are trying to compete on the basis of your price you are probably short-changing yourself unless you are offering low quality care.
Are you a low quality, “average” provider? I don’t think so!
Even a small rate increase can make a big difference in your income. If you are charging $170 a week and increase your rates by 3%, that represents $5.10 more per week per child. If you work 52 weeks a year, the difference that year will add up to $265.20 ($5.10 x 52 weeks) per child.
If there are five children in your program, you will earn $1,326 more that year. If you raise your rates by another 3% the next year, you will earn another $1,365. At the end of two years you will have earned an additional $2,691.
If your current rates do not reflect the quality of care your offer, set as a goal to move closer in the near future.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/
For more information about rates, see my Family Child Care Marketing Guide.