Can't Get People to Pay on Time for Childcare. What Would You Do?

Updated on March 15, 2011
D.F. asks from Saint Peters, MO
29 answers

I take care of children. My policy is payments are due on the first of the week (Monday) most of the family's have no problem with this. However I have one family who NEVER seem to pay on Monday Mornings. I usually have to ask for it or "remind them" that the parent who dropped off did not pay. Most of the time the parent picking up is clueless or pretends not to know and needs to check with their spouse about it. Well today Mom drops off not a word to me about payment. Dad picks up (Late at that) not a word about payment. I tried to call no one answers the phone so I text Mom. "Dad forgot to pay me can you bring it by?" Mom replies in text "I get paid tonight-can I pay u n moring no money till then sorry. I will go to atm on my way to work."
My question is why didn't they say something this morning to me? This is not the first time they have done this. Am I being unreasonable expecting to be pd. on time. Has anyone else ever dealt with this and if so how do you handle it. I'm about ready to quit (NO notice) something I would never normally do. But they seem to do this at least 3 weeks out of every month. By the way my fees are pretty low $25 a day (9 hours.)

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Well they came in today and when they handed me the money I just flat out told them "Payments are due on Monday Mornings, from now on if not pd. in the a.m it's a automatic $20. late fee". I know this sounds harsh and there were alot of good pts. regarding when people receive paychecks. I have worked with other familys due to this. The thing with this couple is they can go out for lunch 2./3 times aweek, go to Mardi gras, and go out drinking every weekend, smoke, But can't come up with money for childcare or other bills. Mom is always telling me how she has to have her parents pay the bills for them. But they can go out and party. I'm not their parent and I shouldn't have to carry them because of their immature ways. Thanks for all the great advice, tonight I will have them sign a contract regarding late fees.

Featured Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

You can send a note home with ALL children stating that if payment is not made Monday mornings, (unless previous arrangements have been made) the child will be unable to stay that day. That should do it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

HI D.,

When I had my kids in care, the payment was due either at the beginning of the month or every two weeks. I got paid every two weeks, but I didn't get paid until the 5th and the 20th of each month and I couldn't afford to pay out all of the childcare cost at the beginning of the month. I was upfront with my provider about this and he knew that I couldn't pay on his schedule, but I was never late on mine.

I would talk with the family and see if they have a delay of when they get paid compared to when you have asked for payment. Then I would set up a set date that you expect payment, and let them know if they don't pay on time you won't provide care until you get paid. It doesn't matter how much or how little you charge... if they agree on the tuition they should have plans to pay it. It isn't a lot to ask to be paid on time, but sometimes things aren't as they seem.

I'd have a conversation about it before you dump them.
Good luck~

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Late Fee!!!
add that on and see what happens!
know that many daycares will not accept kids if payment is behind

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Santa Barbara on

First of are not charging enough...I paid that 17 years ago. Do not diminish your worth. If the parents don't pay, do not accept the child. There have to be consequences for their actions. This is your business! Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your fees are not the issue. And they are beyond reasonable.

Send home a letter to this family--put it in their hands -- telling them that it has always been your policy to expect the payment for the week's care on Monday morning at drop off. Starting next Monday, you will no longer be able to accept their child for care until you are paid in full for the week. Then, stick with it. Sweetie, these people are coming to YOU for a service. You can live without them more easily than they can live without you-- believe me!!! When they come next Monday, just tell them what you wrote: "I am happy to watch your child when I have my money for the week." and send them on their way. If they want to negotiate for paying on Tuesdays, that's fine, but don't accept the child for care until Tuesday, or have them sign something in writing, and then have them pay you the extra day (up until the next Tuesday, when they'll pay you again.) You will have to be strong, but these people need to get with the program. Right now, you are being their mom and reminding them, waiting for the funds, and making it your problem.

Make it THEIR problem!

People like this need a reality check, seriously.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

It sounds to me like Mom gets paid Mondays. Is there any reason you couldn't make their payment due Tuesday? Then you would be paid every week, they would be able to pay you on time, and everyone would be happy. If that doesn't work for you, then tell them to find a different care provider because you need your payments Mondays. It may not be that they are disregarding your terms, but rather that they're living paycheck to paycheck and CAN'T meet your terms on the day of the week that is currently specified. Just my thoughts.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I agree with a late fee. Send a letter to all parents (so the offending ones won't feel 'targeted') that as of NOW, if payment is not made on time there will be a daily late fee of however much you choose. ENFORCE it. Don't let it slide if they feed you a sob story about how they won't have it until they get paid... They know when payment is due, and they know when they get paid. If payday is after due day, then they should hold the money out of the previous check. Unless they have an actual emergency (ER visit, car breaks down, etc... even then make them prove it.) that you are willing to compromise, do not bend. Money speaks louder than words. How pissed do you think this family would be if they didn't get their paycheck on time? How unfair of them to assume it's OK to withold YOUR paycheck as a matter of convenience, or poor planning on their part.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I am sorry you are going through this,I know how frustrating it gets.I used to work in public daycare and then I watched children in my home.I have also had things like this happen and unfortunately my main offender was my SIL.Anyway I suggest two things 1.You need to charge a late fee for not being paid on time and 2.You need to charge a late fee for children getting picked up late.This is not unreasonable,I know it's very hard to deal with but you can't let them take advantage they wouldn't get by with it at a daycare.Many daycares and In home providers do this.Another thing that I know public daycares (and some In home) do is that after a parent is a certain amount of time late on payment the child is not allowed to come back until it's paid.The way I would handle this is sending out a letter to ALL of your parents,(even though your not having other issues.) I would simply say something first about how much you appreciate all of them and really love caring for their children then say that you had some new policies.Then tell them the expected due date,late fees,etc... I don't know how you want to do it.Some daycares fees are expensive like $25 dollars each day after the ___th and $1.00 per minute late.It wouldn't be a bad idea to have each of them sign it. (If you want you could explain to the other parents that you appreciate them always paying and picking up on time.)
Something you might consider is that a lot of people only get paid every 2 weeks or twice a month.A lot of people will get paid the first of the month also Fridays are common payday's.You might consider that rather than taking advantage they really do have to wait til payday and are embarrassed to talk to you about it.It doesn't make it right if they can't pay that morning they need to talk to you about it.But if you can be flexible it wouldn't hurt to ask what day of the week works best for everyone.maybe say with these new policies in place I was wandering when everyone gets paid or when the best day is for you to pay.You maybe could change it to Fridays if the majority say Friday...or paying every 2 weeks ( saying you have to or should.) Just thinking that maybe you can communicate with all of the parents and work out something that will work best for all of you.And that might make you feel better about collecting late fees if they had input.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Change the day that payment is due to Friday. If they do not drop off their child or pick up their child with check (or cash) in hand on that day, tell them firmly and authoritatively that they may not drop their child off the following Monday. Don't allow them to promise to drop off a check on Saturday or Sunday or Monday. Tell them that they are to go home and get a check for you or there will be no childcare on Monday. If you feel as if you have to justify why you have had a change in policy or are being so firm in requiring payment on the day it is due, you can tell them that Friday evenings are when you make your deposit.

This is the policy my daycare worker had established when she was caring for my son. If I showed up at her house without a check in hand, because I had forgot to bring one, she did make me go home and get it. There was no arguing with her and I really didn't want to. She was great with my son and I needed her more than she needed me (can't work without childcare), so I just submitted to her authority. Plus, it is is just the right thing to do, to pay people the money that they are to earn.

Good luck finding away to peacefully resolve this situation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My child's day care requires payment on the first day of the week the child attends, otherwise a $30/day late fee is added on. PLUS $2/min late fee for late pickups (ie. ten min late for pick up, add $20 fee). Sometimes you have to have extreme late fees for people to get the picture. If you don't have this in the contract, add an addendum. If they don't sign, say they have to find new care. It's a business and you are being taken advantage of. No bending. No special rules. Good Luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would do either 2 things.

1. I would tell them that the child would not be allowed to stay on Monday mornings unless the payment was made before they left. Then hold out my hand for the check and if one didn't appear I would hand them the child's belongings and say see you when you can pay. Notify them by writing a letter and having both of them sign it. Put it in their file, give them both a copy.

2. I would find out why they don't pay. They might just not understand it is important. I don't get child support until Tuesday each week so I would never be able to pay a Monday morning payment.

If your fees are the same as the other caregivers in your area then you can be sure that space could be filled if you "fired" them as customers. A child's average day in child care is about 10 hours. Half an hour before work, an hour for their lunch, and a half hour after work plus the 8 hour day equals 10 hours. A baby is about $25 a day here too and the older the child the less per day the fee, in full child care, so your fees are about the same as ours in Oklahoma.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

your future policies need to state that you charge a late fee if they don't pay on Monday. and after the 2nd time of being late then they are required to pay 2 weeks in advance and start paying for 2 weeks in advance every 2 weeks. If they have to pay 20.00 more then they may think twice about paying late.
You may find out what days they do get paid on and expect payment the following day. Some jobs only pay on the 1st and 15th.. others pay on the 3rd or 5th and most teachers get paid only once a month around the 20th. If they have odd pay schedules then they may be struggling to have the money to pay you on Mondays.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Charge a fee each day it is late.
$20. per day late fee..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

If they show up tomorrow with no money, tell them that unless you are paid first thing Wednesday morning, you will not be able to provide care for their daughter as they will be 2 days overdue. Be prepared to turn them away at the door on Wednesday until they hand you cash. After they pay you, I would then simply tell both parents tomorrow that from now on, you will not be able to provide care if you are not paid on time on Monday mornings, then stick to your rules. Again, be prepared to turn them away at the door unless they hand you money first thing on Mondays.
I normally accept payment at the end of the week, but have it written into my contract that payment is due at the start of the week to protect myself from situations like this. In the past, when a family/parent has shown a pattern of not paying on time at the end of the week, I simply tell them that I will need payment first thing at the start of the week or I will not be able to care for their child. Only once, in 8 years, have I had to turn a child away at the door first thing Monday morning (mom owed me for the previous week and the current week). It took the mom all of 20 minutes to run to an ATM and get the money, but I told her she'd have to take her child with her as I couldn't provide anymore care without payment in advance. I wasn't sure if she was coming back or not, but she did and never failed to pay me on Monday morning again.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tell them that you need to meet with both mom and dad before the child can return to your day care. Instead of getting the payment on Monday, ask them to start paying on Friday. If payment is not received, then the child can't return to day on Monday.

You are not being unreasonable, I doubt that either of them would work for free and expect NOT to be paid on their regular pay date.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You could start charging a late fee.
$20 for being late might get their attention.
Some places also charge a fee per minute for late pickup.
A $1 per minute after your quitting time means an hour late = $60.
Or you could say no money means no daycare till you are paid and they can not leave their child with you till they show up with the money to do so.
Some people will play you as long as you let them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

2 the person saying that you were paid this so many years ago...25 per day is very normal in Missouri. I was paid 40 per WEEK 20 years ago.

As for getting paid.... NO PAY, NO STAY

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

They don't tell you because they are ashamed and embarrassed that they have cash flow problems. It's a tough economy, as I'm sure you know. A late fee isn't going to help someone who is struggling financially.

Do you insist on payment on Monday because you are also in dire financial straits and absolutely need it that day, or is it just your policy? If it's just policy, then perhaps instead of firing this family you could ask them when they get paid and change their payment schedule accordingly so that they have the money to pay you when you expect it and you don't have to get all fired up about this.

If you can't or won't be flexible with this, then put them on a three strikes you're out policy and plan on filling their spot eventually when they miss payment days again. I would think that the stress of bringing in a new child is more than the stress of getting paid a day late, but if you feel differently, then enforce your own policy and move on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

first, yes, you should have a late fee policy if you expect it to be done first thing monday morning not a minute later. S., my son has been in two different childcare facilities, one an in-home, and one a preschool/daycare facility. the in home one, it was due on friday (made sense to me since most of us get paid on fridays). usually it wasn't a problem but if i had to, i would ask her if i could wait until monday to pay her and she was usually pretty flexible. the preschool, it is due on monday (much harder for us), late by wednesday. i definitely suggest incurring a late fee. our preschool has one, and it makes everyone feel better. okay, i can't pay on time, but you get extra money, so it takes the sting out. these are not great economic times, and people get embarrassed about bills. you are a bill. and for many, one of the biggest bills in their budget is childcare. it can hurt. i say adopt a late fee policy and try to be a little more flexible. let them be late if they want; just make them pay for it.

ps, it also wouldn't hurt to just ask, for the record, if there is any issue that you can work with them on, i.e. if they get paid on monday could you accept payment from them on tuesdays? if it solves the problem and eliminates all this stress, wouldn't it be worth it?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

If it were me, I might institute a policy that if they do not pay on Monday morning, they cannot drop the child off. They know when it is due, they should budget for it every payday. It isn't a surprise each week. You might, *on occasion*, be lenient about this -- after they have proven to be faithful in paying on time. They wouldn't go to Walmart and buy groceries and ask if they could pay in a couple of days. They wouldn't expect to pay later for pretty much anything else. They are taking advantage of you. I do like your late fee idea. I would have that, too, for the times I might consider being lenient with payment on Monday.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

OK! IM NOT ALONE! I run a daycare to, I have heard all the same stories and some. I decided that the economy should Not effect there child care since i was not charging them full priCe.. AND you would think that the first bill you should pay is your child care.. (THATS SOMEONE ELSE TAKING CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN) Before i did childcare i had a sitter, and she was the first person i made sure was paid. BECAUSE with out her i could not work. I dont understand some parents???? What i started doing different was making them pay UP FRONT. (prepay) That has made a huge difference. AND they all most pay on the 1st, or there is a late fee!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

As a provider of 14 years, I have never had a payment issue, but I am very strict. And now for the past few years I have an auto-pay feature that is required (or cash). I get prepaid before I do the work. If there is an issue with payment, I do not provide care until it is squared away. The only one time I had something resembling an issue was with a new family..parents recently divorced, and dad had the part time custody but was required to pay the daycare. He hadn't payed and came to drop them off after his weekend with cash in hand. I denied them entry to my home. He said "I will run to the cash machine right now" . I Said to take the kids with. He was so angry I was concerned..and glad my hubby was still home and was heading to work late that day. Made me a little more brave with this man I had only met once before and was swearing at me and angry....with a houseful of small children (his kids were school agers). My hubby never said or did anything..just made his presence known.

If you want to maintain them as a need to have a discussion with them.see if re-arranging the time schedule (so its still prepayment) will work better for them...set up a strict late for to help with them showing up late..and if non of that works...then make sure they know you are looking to fill the spot. Business is business, unfortunately and you deserve to be paid and not taken advantage of. Some may honestly need the leg up, and if you can provide it, more power to you. But many will surely take that mile if you offer up the inch.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

It is totally reasonable to expect to be paid. This is your livelihood. I can say that this past month, I was two weeks late because my son's child support was late, and I simply did not have it. I knew that I would get it by a certain date one way or another, and I spoke with the manager of my son's daycare; she was very kind saying "as long as I know what is going on, I'm okay with it." Usually I pay weeks in advance to avoid being late...that must make her more inclined to overlook occasional delays. On the few occasions that I'm late getting off of work, I call. You are asking for courtesy. It is your right to do so. What is very rude of these parents is not communicating. They know your terms. Be clear one more time, then hold them to it. You shouldn't just drop them without a couple weeks warning unless they stop paying - its not fair to the child - but you may have to do so. You are providing a very valuable service...a safe environment for their child so that they can work. You sound exceedingly reasonable. If they had come to you, and asked if it were possible to pay on Tuesday morning instead of Monday, it sounds like you would be fine with it. It isn't fair to leave you wondering.You have a right to your own life just like anyone else and need to know when you will pay your bills, and when you can plan time after work. Incidentally...$25 a day? Wow. That's too good to be true. They have NO excuse to not pay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

i would tell them that if they cant start paying on time then they will need to find another care provider. they are constantly late that should be breaking a contract of some sort. please tell me you have a contract!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

My old daycares were always "Pay on Friday for the upcoming week". If you didn't pay Friday, you weren't allowed to drop off on Monday (unless they brought payment). Now, if there is a payday issue, and I spoke to them and said "Can I pay you Monday night?" it was NEVER an issue. Just like when the provider said "Could you pay me Thursday night this week?" I was able to work with her.

There was also a clause that anything paid after the due date then a late fee was owed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Have you thought about charging a late fee? It would not need to be anything much, just enough to get them on board with paying on time. I have had a family who would try to pay late, but all it took was me calling about it once to get them on board. I am sorry you are having to deal with this. Hopefully they will come around soon.



answers from Washington DC on

It sounds as if their pay schedule is off by a day for your pay schedule and they are on a tight budget. Honestly...I'm sure they are aware that you are to be paid on Monday but if they aren't getting paid until Tuesday where are they going to get the money from on Monday? In this economy, with expenses rising by the minute, not everyone has money in the bank to fall back on. I'm also sure they are embarrassed by this and hence do not talk to you about it. I doubt they are doing it to be spiteful or out of carelessness but rather out of necessity. Are you in a financial position to allow them the extra day to pay? If so perhaps you could speak with them and change their pay date to tuesday. If you're not in a position to be flexible with them then just tell them they are going to need to start looking for another provider that can accommodate their pay schedule. Realistically I doubt they can afford a late payment fee either. You mention the Dad was late to pickup. Does that happen often or is it a once in a great while thing? Perhaps a policy change to include a late pickup fee would discourage lateness and if not at least you would be compensated for your extra work. I understand your frustration but clearly they are not in a position to pay ahead of their paycheck. That of course does not diminish your right to be paid on time but it sounds as if they are doing the best they can. Hopefully you all will be able to work it out for the benefit of all parties involved, most importantly the child :) Good Luck and God Bless.



answers from Tulsa on

Years ago I babysit for money. I knew one mom would not pay if I didn't make her so I told her I needed cash up front each day and if she was late, I needed that too. That way she knew to bring the cash each time. I would not have let the child stay without the money first and her boyfriend asked me to.


answers from Dallas on

I'm just joining in here and I see your what happened.

You have every right to put a late fee in the contract and enforce it.

We run our business from home and we give 1%10, net 30 on most terms. Some people take the discount and pay in 10 days, especially if is saves $400 or so. We still have others that wait until we have to ask them to pay. That said, on our invoices, I have a clause which state if the invoice is not paid in full within the specified time period, I start finance charges.

This has worked for us. We do have 1 customer who routinely was late and we have put them on a cash in advance before we ship any materials to them.

This is your business, your income and you run it as you see fit. I am sure you would not have trouble finding another child to fill the spot since good daycares are hard to come by!

Good luck

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