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Old 07-21-2016, 10:59 AM
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Default Strange Daycare Admissions Policies

Greetings. I have been searching the internet for some insight into this question and haven't come up with anything, so I am hoping to get some perspective from you wise people.

We are currently considering switching our 6 month old DD from one daycare to another. We like our current center and our DD is doing very well there but there have been some turnover issues and some pretty aggravating communication problems with the director. That said, our situation is good and moving her is not urgent.

We have recently found another daycare (which also offers preschool) with dual language immersion and a farm-to-table food philosophy, and we are very excited about it. It is a little less expensive than what we are paying now by $100/month...not monumental but not nothing either.

But here are two strange things:
First, they ask for an interview playdate with our daughter to judge her developmental progress without us present. We can deal with this but wonder why they would do this with babies. Do they really reject some infants because they aren't hitting all of the CDC benchmarks exactly on time? (FYI, it is not a Montessori school) It just seems odd.

Second, they ask for a $1500 reservation fee THAT DOESN'T COUNT TOWARD THE FIRST MONTH'S TUITION. In other words, it's just an extra $1500 thrown in for good measure. We have looked at a lot of daycares and this is the first time that we have come across this. I told the director this and she shrugged it off, and said that it technically counts toward the tuition cost, i.e. if they didn't charge it, tuition would be $125 more a month. With all of this included, it is still less than our current daycare (because of a discount I get through my company) but still seems egregious.

Now, unlike many daycares at this price point, they do offer financial aid but even so, the whole thing (interview plus sizable upfront fee) is at least odd if not slightly discriminatory. What do people think?
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:05 AM
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Greetings. I have been searching the internet for some insight into this question and haven't come up with anything, so I am hoping to get some perspective from you wise people.

We are currently considering switching our 6 month old DD from one daycare to another. We like our current center and our DD is doing very well there but there have been some turnover issues and some pretty aggravating communication problems with the director. That said, our situation is good and moving her is not urgent.

We have recently found another daycare (which also offers preschool) with dual language immersion and a farm-to-table food philosophy, and we are very excited about it. It is a little less expensive than what we are paying now by $100/month...not monumental but not nothing either.

But here are two strange things:
First, they ask for an interview playdate with our daughter to judge her developmental progress without us present. We can deal with this but wonder why they would do this with babies. Do they really reject some infants because they aren't hitting all of the CDC benchmarks exactly on time? (FYI, it is not a Montessori school) It just seems odd.

Second, they ask for a $1500 reservation fee THAT DOESN'T COUNT TOWARD THE FIRST MONTH'S TUITION. In other words, it's just an extra $1500 thrown in for good measure. We have looked at a lot of daycares and this is the first time that we have come across this. I told the director this and she shrugged it off, and said that it technically counts toward the tuition cost, i.e. if they didn't charge it, tuition would be $125 more a month. With all of this included, it is still less than our current daycare (because of a discount I get through my company) but still seems egregious.

Now, unlike many daycares at this price point, they do offer financial aid but even so, the whole thing (interview plus sizable upfront fee) is at least odd if not slightly discriminatory. What do people think?
I don't think it's that odd per say for them to ask for a "play date" with your DD. I doubt they deny enrollment based on her developmental benchmarks but I am guessing its more so they can see where your DD lies on the developmental charts verses asking you. I have yet to have a parent see what I see when observing a child.

As for the money requested up front.....I have heard of programs requiring a deposit and/or an enrollment fee but not one that high and not one that isn't at least credited towards the first OR last month's tuition.

Wondering though what you feel is discriminatory though?
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:30 AM
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Well I can see asking for the play date. They could use that for various reasons. They could just be looking for what group to place your child in.

The upfront fee, I have never heard of that before, but at the end of the day all daycare owners are free to set their prices and policies. As long as people will pay it they can charge it. But if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then don't pay it and choose a different care option.

It isn't discriminatory if they are charging it to all clients (except those who qualify for whatever their standard for financial aid is, if the aid applies to that.). It would only be discriminatory if they are charging it only to female children, or only white children, etc.
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:49 AM
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Sounds like they polled local daycares for rates, advertised lower to pull you in, then added that amount back once you saw what they offer has value.

If they had advertised the real price upfront would as many people come in to tour?

Business.

The play date may be to see how well baby takes a bottle or if he/she screams when put down.
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Old 07-21-2016, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Cat Herder View Post
Sounds like they polled local daycares for rates, advertised lower to pull you in, then added that amount back once you saw what they offer has value.

If they had advertised the real price upfront would as many people come in to tour?

Business.

The play date may be to see how well baby takes a bottle or if he/she screams when put down.
That is GENIUS! I am going to implement that playdate at my next interview! I have a kid now who can only nap when being held (18 months old) and has been held for naps his whole life. NOT a pleasant day when he needs to nap here. Of course, parents don't mention that BEFORE starting child, only after two weeks of panicked screaming at naptime.
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Old 07-21-2016, 12:36 PM
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Thanks so much for your feedback.

You're right about it not being true discrimination if they are charging everyone the same thing, it just feels like a way to weed out those who can't afford to pay $1500 upfront (I am not sure you can apply for financial aid for this part) and/or those who can't afford to take the time off work to bring in their babies for a play date. I don't know, it seems like the kind of thing that you hear about in reference to those super chichi preschools in Manhattan (we live in a big city but not New York). Plus, they don't tell you if you are admitted at the play date, you have to wait to get word of their official admissions decision.

And, the $1500 reservation fee is on their website but it isn't explicit so we naturally thought that this applied to a month of tuition, which is the case for even the most expensive daycares we looked at (including the one our daughter currently attends). We didn't find out this wasn't the case until we went for a tour.

True, we don't have to move forward with the process. I am still trying to work through it all and don't have a lot of mom friends to ask so I just wanted to get some perspective on whether it was normal or not.
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Old 07-21-2016, 12:49 PM
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Thanks so much for your feedback.

You're right about it not being true discrimination if they are charging everyone the same thing, it just feels like a way to weed out those who can't afford to pay $1500 upfront (I am not sure you can apply for financial aid for this part) and/or those who can't afford to take the time off work to bring in their babies for a play date. I don't know, it seems like the kind of thing that you hear about in reference to those super chichi preschools in Manhattan (we live in a big city but not New York). Plus, they don't tell you if you are admitted at the play date, you have to wait to get word of their official admissions decision.

And, the $1500 reservation fee is on their website but it isn't explicit so we naturally thought that this applied to a month of tuition, which is the case for even the most expensive daycares we looked at (including the one our daughter currently attends). We didn't find out this wasn't the case until we went for a tour.

True, we don't have to move forward with the process. I am still trying to work through it all and don't have a lot of mom friends to ask so I just wanted to get some perspective on whether it was normal or not.
Absolutely could be the reasoning. From a business stand point I can totally see why they'd do that....nothing worse for a provider to take the time to interview, cover the policies etc, do all the paperwork and registration required to enroll and then have a family/child not work out due to misrepresentation.

I've had lots of families that swore up and down their child could do X or that the fees or weekly tuition was something they could easily manage only to find out later that their child was no where near the developmental milestone they were supposedly at or the family suddenly had money issues and either can't pay, won't pay or uses the "I didn't understand how you billed for that" line.....

I think that although it's a ridiculously high amount, I still see the value in it for sure!

You are smart to weigh your options though but I am curious about the communication issues and the turn over.

Is there a reason for the turnover or is it just regular turnover that seems to happen in centers frequently at times? Are the communication issues something new or something you feel you could possibly rectify with a meeting/discussion with the director?
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Old 07-21-2016, 01:10 PM
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Thanks so much for your feedback.

You're right about it not being true discrimination if they are charging everyone the same thing, it just feels like a way to weed out those who can't afford to pay $1500 upfront (I am not sure you can apply for financial aid for this part) and/or those who can't afford to take the time off work to bring in their babies for a play date. I don't know, it seems like the kind of thing that you hear about in reference to those super chichi preschools in Manhattan (we live in a big city but not New York). Plus, they don't tell you if you are admitted at the play date, you have to wait to get word of their official admissions decision.

And, the $1500 reservation fee is on their website but it isn't explicit so we naturally thought that this applied to a month of tuition, which is the case for even the most expensive daycares we looked at (including the one our daughter currently attends). We didn't find out this wasn't the case until we went for a tour.

True, we don't have to move forward with the process. I am still trying to work through it all and don't have a lot of mom friends to ask so I just wanted to get some perspective on whether it was normal or not.
Now I want to put this policy in place! If you can't get off work to bring your child to the play date, what are you going to do when they are sick and you have to pick them up at daycare?
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Old 07-21-2016, 01:18 PM
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Now I want to put this policy in place! If you can't get off work to bring your child to the play date, what are you going to do when they are sick and you have to pick them up at daycare?
Right??

And by requiring a large deposit they are not as likely to leave over trivial issues or cause unnecessary drama to be termed. They will be more likely to follow the handbook.

It would be an equal commitment of resources where both sides have something valuable to loose in a conflict.
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Old 07-21-2016, 04:19 PM
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Right??

And by requiring a large deposit they are not as likely to leave over trivial issues or cause unnecessary drama to be termed. They will be more likely to follow the handbook.

It would be an equal commitment of resources where both sides have something valuable to loose in a conflict.
Genius.

These people are doing it right.
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Old 07-21-2016, 04:59 PM
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Wow, this really gives me a good perspective. Thank you.

We are fortunate that we can afford the upfront fee and that both my husband and I have flexible schedules so none of the issues I raise really apply to us. I guess I just never thought that my child would have to audition for a spot in daycare or that our economic or professional situations would establish us as being able to "get in" to a school that feels somewhat exclusive. But maybe we won't get in...who knows?

Anyway, the reason we would consider leaving our current school for this new one really has to do with the language immersion and farm-to-table philosophy, rather than concrete problems with the care our DD is getting.

The turnover issues I mentioned were typical but concerning because both of the teachers in her room flaked (one quite and one was absent all of the time) right at about the time that she was getting comfortable with them. She has two great teachers now and no harm, no foul. But the communication issues remain a thorn in our side. That is a long story.

To make it short, the school doesn't have their tuition rates published and there was a miscommunication between us and the people in charge about what rate we would be paying. We thought it was one rate and wrote them a deposit check (which they cashed) for that amount a year in advance of our entry (I had a long maternity leave). The week before DD began, the director reiterated to me over the phone that we are getting the "grand opening rate" (the school is a new branch of a national chain) and confirmed that the deposit amount would be used toward our 1st month's tuition.

When the second month rolled around and we had to submit the ACH form, the administrative assistant tells me that she can't figure out what discount we are getting that would allow us to think that the tuition was that amount, it is actually $100+ more a month. What we realized is that we were multiplying the weekly rate by 48 (4 weeks in a month), rather than 52 (weeks in a year). Admittedly, this was stupid of us but we are first time parents without a lot of local parent friends and didn't know better. The problem is that no one at the school told us we were wrong, not when they cashed our deposit check, or when we were about to start at the school (and the director said "deposit amount" is the tuition you will paying) but only told us when we were already there. (Also, it became clear through these conversations that some people might be getting a discount but apparently, we aren't.)

We talked to the director about it and we felt that she handled it poorly. It was awkward for us to have to argue that we felt that we should pay that original rate since no one corrected us (and our entire daycare decision was based on budgeting for that amount) but then ended up feeling cheap that we weren't willing to pay the extra amount. So, we ended up just paying the higher number just to rid ourselves of the awkwardness. It is not breaking us but we remain frustrated about the situation because we probably would have opted for another school if we had know the tuition was that much (and would have had our pick of the litter because of how far in advance we committed).

Anyway, thanks for your perspectives!
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:30 PM
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Wow, this really gives me a good perspective. Thank you.

We are fortunate that we can afford the upfront fee and that both my husband and I have flexible schedules so none of the issues I raise really apply to us. I guess I just never thought that my child would have to audition for a spot in daycare or that our economic or professional situations would establish us as being able to "get in" to a school that feels somewhat exclusive. But maybe we won't get in...who knows?

Anyway, the reason we would consider leaving our current school for this new one really has to do with the language immersion and farm-to-table philosophy, rather than concrete problems with the care our DD is getting.

The turnover issues I mentioned were typical but concerning because both of the teachers in her room flaked (one quite and one was absent all of the time) right at about the time that she was getting comfortable with them. She has two great teachers now and no harm, no foul. But the communication issues remain a thorn in our side. That is a long story.

To make it short, the school doesn't have their tuition rates published and there was a miscommunication between us and the people in charge about what rate we would be paying. We thought it was one rate and wrote them a deposit check (which they cashed) for that amount a year in advance of our entry (I had a long maternity leave). The week before DD began, the director reiterated to me over the phone that we are getting the "grand opening rate" (the school is a new branch of a national chain) and confirmed that the deposit amount would be used toward our 1st month's tuition.

When the second month rolled around and we had to submit the ACH form, the administrative assistant tells me that she can't figure out what discount we are getting that would allow us to think that the tuition was that amount, it is actually $100+ more a month. What we realized is that we were multiplying the weekly rate by 48 (4 weeks in a month), rather than 52 (weeks in a year). Admittedly, this was stupid of us but we are first time parents without a lot of local parent friends and didn't know better. The problem is that no one at the school told us we were wrong, not when they cashed our deposit check, or when we were about to start at the school (and the director said "deposit amount" is the tuition you will paying) but only told us when we were already there. (Also, it became clear through these conversations that some people might be getting a discount but apparently, we aren't.)

We talked to the director about it and we felt that she handled it poorly. It was awkward for us to have to argue that we felt that we should pay that original rate since no one corrected us (and our entire daycare decision was based on budgeting for that amount) but then ended up feeling cheap that we weren't willing to pay the extra amount. So, we ended up just paying the higher number just to rid ourselves of the awkwardness. It is not breaking us but we remain frustrated about the situation because we probably would have opted for another school if we had know the tuition was that much (and would have had our pick of the litter because of how far in advance we committed).

Anyway, thanks for your perspectives!
Well I can tell you that families (parents AND children) "audition" for most daycare spots. Most of us here are home providers, although there are a few center workers. But when we do an interview, it isn't just you interviewing us. We are interviewing you. In fact I require a pre interview either on the phone or by email/messaging, and an interview. IF I accept you into my program, and you choose to join, you come to my home for a second "interview" where you pay the enrollment fee, get the enrollment papers and sign a contract. There are some parents I will not work with, and some children I will not offer a spot. And usually when I don't offer a spot due to a child, when you get down to brass tacks, it is usually a parental issue that is the root of the problem. For instance, I did one interview where mom and grandma brought boy who was two. He threw a tantrum over everything, and mom and grandma said "well we can't get him to do what we want". They left, without securing a spot and I wasn't sure I would offer one and the boy tried to leave with one of my toys. I waited for them to say something and they were going to let him walk out with it. I said something, and he had a fit and mom said "oh it is okay she will let you take it home". Um no, I won't I didn't offer a spot. In that case the issue was the behavior of the child, but it was a taught behavior.
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Old 07-22-2016, 03:52 AM
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So the reservation fee is.... a fee to hold the spot? Not going towards tuition at all?

Wow. I don't know. I can understand the argument that it would make both parties more accountable in the agreement but it really doesn't sit well with me.

If you (general daycare business "you") feel your services are worth more, charge more. I charge a lot more than my competition. I offer different things than the other local providers. My rates are not for everyone. They are for those who value what I am offering and willing to pay for those services. Those are the clients I want.

To be honest, I feel like it is a bit like, "we rope you in and then hit you with the big fees" type of thing. It doesn't sit well with me but that's just me.

As far as the playdate goes, I do think that it is a great idea. So many parents have told me one thing, only to have their children start and it's been the complete opposite. Makes for a very hard transition for the child and doesn't always mean a lasting client. Lots of wasted time and energy for everyone.

Hope it all works out for you!
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Old 07-22-2016, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Cat Herder View Post
Sounds like they polled local daycares for rates, advertised lower to pull you in, then added that amount back once you saw what they offer has value.

If they had advertised the real price upfront would as many people come in to tour?

Business.

The play date may be to see how well baby takes a bottle or if he/she screams when put down.
I do playdates. It's early afternoon when my first child leaves I have a potential child come visit for a couple of hours. It's free of charge, and I find it helps me know what I am getting into.

Parents see their child with rose colored glasses (as they should) but they often misrepresent abilities and temperament.

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Absolutely could be the reasoning. From a business stand point I can totally see why they'd do that....nothing worse for a provider to take the time to interview, cover the policies etc, do all the paperwork and registration required to enroll and then have a family/child not work out due to misrepresentation.

I've had lots of families that swore up and down their child could do X or that the fees or weekly tuition was something they could easily manage only to find out later that their child was no where near the developmental milestone they were supposedly at or the family suddenly had money issues and either can't pay, won't pay or uses the "I didn't understand how you billed for that" line.....

I think that although it's a ridiculously high amount, I still see the value in it for sure!

You are smart to weigh your options though but I am curious about the communication issues and the turn over.

Is there a reason for the turnover or is it just regular turnover that seems to happen in centers frequently at times? Are the communication issues something new or something you feel you could possibly rectify with a meeting/discussion with the director?
I charge and enrollment fee, I am the only daycare in the area that does. It is non refundable. Every time a new child joins my program, I add new items for the entire group. I have a very low turnover though, and it's not an exorbitant amount.
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:22 PM
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$1500 enrollment fee is crazy! What happens if you start there and within a few weeks or a month something happens that causes you to not like it? What if they also have turn over problems (I assume you asked about this in the interview and know that it's not an issue). I assume this is not refundable. I wouldn't pay this, so this place wouldn't work for me. You never really know a place until your child attends for a few weeks/months.

I can understand doing a playdate. Did they say that it was to check for "developmental benchmarks"? I wonder what exactly they meant by that? I immediately thought they meant developmental milestones, but I suppose PP's are right and they're checking to see that baby can be put down/take a bottle/etc and that makes sense.
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