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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>DCM's Lawyer Called Me
Unregistered 11:14 AM 05-15-2013
I consulted my lawyer to review my daycare contract to make sure it would stand up in court before I opened my daycare. I do not know contract law either, however, what I was told was, what makes a contract legally binding is if you add a clause stating that said person agrees this document is legally binding. I have parents initial after each clause in my 12 page contract and the very last two clauses state:

"I/We agree this document titled _____________ is a legally binding contract between _____________, _____________ and _____________. (initial here ______)

"I/We _____________ the parent(s) of ___________ have read, understand, and agree to be leagally bound to adhere to each policy stated herein, Furthermore, I/We understand and agree to be financially liable for any and all penalty fees associated with accidental or mindful breach of any policy stated within this contract including all legal fees for both parties.

Mother/Guardian Signature ______________________ Date ___________________
Father/Guardian Signature ______________________ Date ___________________
Daycare Provider Signature ______________________ Date ___________________

Nobody has ever to my knowledge been scared off by my contract and if they were I guess that could be a good thing but I get compliments on how well written it is all the time. I also have a seperate medical release form that is very good and I was told to have them get it noterized just to make sure if I ever did end up taking a child to the ER the hospital would have zero problem adhereing to it because they are not legally liable to prove the parent signature was actually written by the parent...the notary is.
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Unregistered 11:31 AM 05-15-2013
....Also, in some states you may need to add a clause stating:

"Policy enforcement is at the sole discression of the child care provider who may or may not take into account each individual situation. Not enforcing a policy in no way makes the policy null and void in the future." (initial here _______)
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Play Care 11:54 AM 05-15-2013
I know I've told this story before, but it seems to bear repeating.
A year or so ago a provider on another forum I frequent terminated care (with a two week notice) for a client who was repeatedly violating her policies. Contract stated that payment was due during the notice period *even* if the provider was unavailable to continue care (I gather she had this clause in case she felt physical unsafe having the family come). Parent signed off on it.

Parent and provider had words, provider ended care immediately. Provider tried to take parent to court for fees for the termination week and was laughed out of court by the judge. The judge said that because there was nothing by the actual clause, there was no way of knowing if it had been there when the parent received the contract or it was added after the fact. Also he said that you can't make someone pay for services you refuse to provide, regardless of what the contract states.

I don't say this to be argumentative, but simply point out that just because you have the contract doesn't always mean you will win.
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LaLa1923 03:22 PM 05-15-2013
I am going to pursue this in court, only because I would love to see what the judge has to say. If there's something I need to change ion my contract I will. As soon as my mac is up and running I will post my contract and handbook.
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Willow 03:46 PM 05-15-2013
Originally Posted by Unregistered:
I consulted my lawyer to review my daycare contract to make sure it would stand up in court before I opened my daycare. I do not know contract law either, however, what I was told was, what makes a contract legally binding is if you add a clause stating that said person agrees this document is legally binding. I have parents initial after each clause in my 12 page contract and the very last two clauses state:

"I/We agree this document titled _____________ is a legally binding contract between _____________, _____________ and _____________. (initial here ______)

"I/We _____________ the parent(s) of ___________ have read, understand, and agree to be leagally bound to adhere to each policy stated herein, Furthermore, I/We understand and agree to be financially liable for any and all penalty fees associated with accidental or mindful breach of any policy stated within this contract including all legal fees for both parties.

Mother/Guardian Signature ______________________ Date ___________________
Father/Guardian Signature ______________________ Date ___________________
Daycare Provider Signature ______________________ Date ___________________

Nobody has ever to my knowledge been scared off by my contract and if they were I guess that could be a good thing but I get compliments on how well written it is all the time. I also have a seperate medical release form that is very good and I was told to have them get it noterized just to make sure if I ever did end up taking a child to the ER the hospital would have zero problem adhereing to it because they are not legally liable to prove the parent signature was actually written by the parent...the notary is.

This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing it!
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countrymom 03:47 PM 05-15-2013
I had a mom who pulled a crazy stunt. My contract said that if you don't call you will be charged (this was before I did contract hours) well to her it ment that she could call me whenever she wanted to let me know that she wasn't coming even if it was 5 min before I closed. I learned my lesson and changed my contract to contract hours.
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tuszak 03:59 PM 05-15-2013
Have you heard of Provider Watch? I went through them when I had a client try to get away without paying me for putting her baby in a crib at nap time! She said it was scary for him to be alone....
anyway, they went after her and got my money. They keep a small percent. They go after them at work, and it goes against their credit. And they put it in their file for other providers to watch out for her name and what she did to other providers. I would use it again in a heart beat. Providerwatch.com
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MyAngels 05:16 PM 05-15-2013
Originally Posted by LaLa1923:
I am going to pursue this in court, only because I would love to see what the judge has to say. If there's something I need to change ion my contract I will. As soon as my mac is up and running I will post my contract and handbook.
Keep us posted on how it all shakes out. Information like this helps all providers know what to put in - or leave out as the case may be - their contracts.
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Unregistered 01:23 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Unregistered:
Looks like Tom Copeland answered your question in the post you had to him. Seems to me you have nothing to worry about now! Yes, You would have WON not the parent. We all knew that, well some of us, but its nice having a childcare lawyer confirm it.

Enjoy your day with out the worry now.
This is your business, and no one can tell you how to run it, except you! If she signed the dotted line, that's her a--. there is no where stated in your contract, i'm sure, that you plan to be a slave to this woman or her child. I would have probably pulled my money out her a--, but proceed as you are, she will have to pay!!!!
And another thing.....THIS is why I 100% handle my business in a business manner! My clients don't even dream of dropping off late without calling, and they sure as hell don't wan t me to start calling them!! My contract specifically states that if I feel you are misusing me or my time, your contract could be terminated IMMEDIATELY!!
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Unregistered 05:22 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by LaLa1923:
I have a DCM who had their nasty bully of a lawyer call me and tell me I did not know contract law. That it doesn't matter what I put in my contract, it must follow the law.

DCM did not notify me of a late arrival and I went about my day. She shows up an hour later wanting to know why I wasn't home.

Long story short she terminated care bc I failed to fulfill the contract. She said since I wasn't home I broke the contract. I require 4 weeks notice to terminate care. Her lawyer said I wasn't entitled to it bc I broke the contact. It doesn't matter what I put in my contract, I am to be available during her contracted hours. This really does not make any sense to me.

Her lawyer said it doesn't matter what time she shows up or if she communicates about her drop off time. Basically she can do whatever she wants and show up whenever she wants.



SERIOUSLY?
My contract said "If you are more than 1/2 hour late dropping off your child and I have not received a phone call or text, I may not be available to accept your child and no refunds are given in this case. It is the parents responsibility to communicate with the provider for any changes to the schedule"

So if the PARENT doesn't show and I've sat and waited, but I had something else planned, I'm not stopping my plans to sit and wait and see if MAYBE she shows! I have made parents meet me places if they insisted on dropping off after their normal drop off times. They HATED that but after a few times (especially in the summer) they figured they better drop off on time or at least call me. I can't believe this DCM can get away with trying to have a lawyer bug you about this, if your contract was worded similarly.
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Lucy 07:53 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Unregistered:
My contract said "If you are more than 1/2 hour late dropping off your child and I have not received a phone call or text, I may not be available to accept your child and no refunds are given in this case. It is the parents responsibility to communicate with the provider for any changes to the schedule"

So if the PARENT doesn't show and I've sat and waited, but I had something else planned, I'm not stopping my plans to sit and wait and see if MAYBE she shows! I have made parents meet me places if they insisted on dropping off after their normal drop off times. They HATED that but after a few times (especially in the summer) they figured they better drop off on time or at least call me. I can't believe this DCM can get away with trying to have a lawyer bug you about this, if your contract was worded similarly.
But the point of this is not that we should WAIT for the parent. No way. If I had something to do, whether it was planned or an emergency, I'd leave in a heartbeat if someone didn't show up.

The point, rather, is whether we should take 20 seconds and send a text. It doesn't have to be nice. You don't have to say, "Hey Susan, I had planned on taking the kids to the library today. Should I wait for you?" No... I'd be pissed off if they didn't show up and hadn't called!! So I'd say something short and sweet like, "Gotta run. Assume you're a no-show".
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LaLa1923 07:56 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by MyAngels:
Keep us posted on how it all shakes out. Information like this helps all providers know what to put in - or leave out as the case may be - their contracts.
I definitely will!! Thank you!!
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Crystal 08:19 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Lucy:
But the point of this is not that we should WAIT for the parent. No way. If I had something to do, whether it was planned or an emergency, I'd leave in a heartbeat if someone didn't show up.

The point, rather, is whether we should take 20 seconds and send a text. It doesn't have to be nice. You don't have to say, "Hey Susan, I had planned on taking the kids to the library today. Should I wait for you?" No... I'd be pissed off if they didn't show up and hadn't called!! So I'd say something short and sweet like, "Gotta run. Assume you're a no-show".

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Unregistered 08:23 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Lucy:
But the point of this is not that we should WAIT for the parent. No way. If I had something to do, whether it was planned or an emergency, I'd leave in a heartbeat if someone didn't show up.

The point, rather, is whether we should take 20 seconds and send a text. It doesn't have to be nice. You don't have to say, "Hey Susan, I had planned on taking the kids to the library today. Should I wait for you?" No... I'd be pissed off if they didn't show up and hadn't called!! So I'd say something short and sweet like, "Gotta run. Assume you're a no-show".
I would agree with that IF it was only a couple minutes after drop off time. I give 1/2 hour after the time for them to give me the courtesy call that they weren't coming. If parents can't bother with me, they KNOW I am not going to wait and I am no longer obligated to call them. I have had situations where I had to leave at 7:10 and the parent was contracted for 7am, but truthfully, those situations were known in advance and I'd let the parent know the night before that they needed to be on time. Now, sometimes parents forget, so at 7 sharp if they were not there, I'd text and ask if they were on their way, and many times they were. In that case, I'd just wait an extra few minutes. But when they just don't feel like showing up and they can't call by 7:30 when dropoff was 7? After a first chance, I'm not going to go out of my way to give them the courtesy they could not show me by reminding them that I'm not going to be there. I let them figure it out the hard way. That often stopped the problem before it started (most parents---some just DID NOT get it).
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Unregistered 08:28 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Willow:
The difference would be that if you missed a doctor's appointment doc couldn't still charge you or bill the insurance company regardless unlike many providers who are set up the opposite.


I do think OP needs to sort out whether dropping it or getting her own representation is the best route to take at this point.

I can sort of see where he's coming from and do think they might have a decent argument unless everything is laid out to the minute and all stipulations about how she runs contracted hours are crystal clear.
Actually, doctor's offices now have no-show fees. You must give 24 hours notice minimum or you can be charged anywhere from $40-$125 here. Depends on type of practice (Fertility clinics are the ones that charge higher fees, primary care is $40). So, it puts the responsibility back on the patient and yes they legally are allowed to collect the fee. In fact, many will collect the fee BEFORE they'll even see you again. Can they bill your insurance for it? No, but they sure can bill you or refuse to see you unless you pay it. And I agree with them. Too many rude people not showing up or calling for appointments THEY made.
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rmc20021 09:57 PM 05-16-2013
So I'm kind of in a similar situation, with the exception of a lawyer phone call. My dcf did not show or call for 3 days so I sent them a letter requesting payment as well as early term fees as I had been left to assume they no longer needed childcare (they had dropped once before and after a month came back and asked if I would take dcg back into care).

So after the mail went out on the day I sent the letter, I get a text saying dcg was going to be here 'shortly'. As far as I know, they never arrived. They said they came and I wasn't home. My car was in the driveway, I was with the other dck's watching a movie 2 rooms away and would easily have heard if anybody knocked on my door.

In the text they said they had no intention of leaving daycare and had planned on paying me for the time dcg was in care. They signed a contract for a flat fee...due whether child is in care or not.

My contract states it is a legal and binding contract between both parties (and signed by both with each of us having copies so there is no way either can alter it)

I AM taking them to court to collect fees, as well as late payment fees and early term fees (which in the letter I sent I told them that if the fees were paid within 5 days from the post date that any late payment fees would be dropped.

It has NOT been paid, today was the deadline and I have a letter prepared to go into tomorrow's mail which will include the late payment fees as they have ignored my request for payment.

I know for a fact I can collect as I've done it before...but it was several years ago and I just wonder if there could be any glitch in how my contract was written which would cause it to not work this time...new contract, other was when I had daycare many years ago and old contract has been long gone.
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Lyss 11:46 PM 05-16-2013
Originally Posted by Unregistered:
Actually, doctor's offices now have no-show fees. You must give 24 hours notice minimum or you can be charged anywhere from $40-$125 here. Depends on type of practice (Fertility clinics are the ones that charge higher fees, primary care is $40). So, it puts the responsibility back on the patient and yes they legally are allowed to collect the fee. In fact, many will collect the fee BEFORE they'll even see you again. Can they bill your insurance for it? No, but they sure can bill you or refuse to see you unless you pay it. And I agree with them. Too many rude people not showing up or calling for appointments THEY made.
My area, or doctors I guess, must be different or missing this trend because we don't get charged. I accidentally forgot my daughter's appointment once and they called to ask if we were running late, when I realized I forgot I apologized and rescheduled. They made no mention of a fee and I wasn't charged. I've also cancelled hers and mine less than 24hrs with no fees. Life happens and sometimes we have to make appointments so far out (the one i forgot about was scheduled 6mos prior, age based appt not a wait list) its easy to forget. Thankfully mine are understanding and don't charge. So its not ALL doctor's are doing this. I can see why they do though, I get annoyed when parents and interviews no show.

Originally Posted by MyAngels:
Keep us posted on how it all shakes out. Information like this helps all providers know what to put in - or leave out as the case may be - their contracts.

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RosieMommy 10:11 AM 05-17-2013
My thoughts on this issue.

Best advice on here: get some advice from a lawyer about the situation here and about your contract. There are all kinds of rules on how contracts are interpreted etc and just because you have a contract doesn't mean you automatically win. Also it would probably give you some peace of mind knowing that your contract is sound or if there are issues, what they are. AND if you take her to court, you want to be prepared to know your stuff.

Generally, when it comes to "uncooperative parents," I would just point that out that people are uncooperative in general and this happens in every business. I don't think parents need to be treated like kids because I don't think that's really what the issue is. People are just people. They are rude and inconsiderate of other people. People make appointments and don't keep them, etc. People are late. If you institute certain policies that are designed to encourage cooperation, you will have people that think it's worth it to continue to deal with you and others will leave. You have to think about investing goodwill in your business and while I don't think not texting a parent saying you're leaving is necessarily unprofessional, it does go to goodwill in your business. In my business, when clients are running late (even if it's the SAME ones), I do a courtesy call maybe 15 min before to see where they are and what's going on. I don't have to, it's not my job to track them down b/c they're adults but they may refer, it may go to my reputation as really caring about my clients, etc. People notice those kinds of things -- even the clients who have a lot of drama.
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caligirl 12:17 PM 05-17-2013
Originally Posted by Play Care:
I think it's time for you to get your own representation.

Unfortunately it seems that if they get lawyered up, you need to as well. I've read too many horror stories by providers who went in to court by themselves only to get chewed up and spit out.
Ditto that!
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