A parent with two children calls you looking for child care and asks if you offer a discount for the second child.
A parent enrolled in your program announces she is pregnant and wants to know if she can get a discount when she enrolls her new baby.
Should you offer a discount for two or more children from the same family?
There is no right or wrong answer. Some family child care providers do, some don’t.
Reasons for offering a discount:
- It’s easier to fill two slots at once (fill slots quicker, less advertising cost)
- You may lose a parent who can’t afford to pay a non-discounted rate
- Even a small discount can keep parents happy (stay enrolled)
Reasons for not offering a discount:
- You are losing money, particularly over a long period of time
- Your costs do not decline (food, supplies, toys, wear and tear on your home)
- You don’t spend less time caring for siblings than two non-related children
If you do offer a discount, how much should it be?
There is no rule and no consistent policy among providers. Some offer a 10% discount (one provider offers a 40% discount!). Providers offer $5 a week discount, others offer $20-$30 a week off.
If you decide not to offer a discount, how do you explain it to parents?
Simply say, “I don’t offer a discount.” You don’t have to justify your decision. You can say you based your rates on enrollment, not attendance. Or you can say as one provider did, “Siblings don’t get discounted care, so they don’t get discounted rates.”
If you do offer a discount, consider making these restrictions. It’s not illegal discrimination to set different policies for siblings.
- Offer a discount only for full -time care
- Offer it only for a limited time (6 months)
- Give the discount to the oldest child so parents won’t pay the cheaper rate when this child ages out of your program
- Require earlier pick up or drop off times
- If one child stays home for any reason, the other child must stay home
- If one child is picked up early, both must go home together
- No unpaid sick days. If one child is sick and the other child is in your care, parent pays the same rate
- Require a larger deposit
- Require a longer notice period that is paid in advance. Some providers require a three month notice for siblings because it takes much longer to fill two slots.
If you are struggling to fill your slots or are trying to help low-income parents, it can make sense to offer a discount. Paying for child care can be expensive for many families, particularly those with more than one child.
On the other hand, your costs don’t decrease when caring for siblings and you are working just as hard.
Here’s an extended discussion about sibling discounts at daycare.com.
What’s your policy?
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/esaldivar/
For more information about parent contracts and policies, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.
Categories: Contracts & Policies