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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Help With Hours, Please!!
Daycare_Mama 11:35 AM 10-12-2010
I'm hoping to get some insight from you other providers.

I have been providing legally, unlicensed care for the past year for one family with one, little boy. I haven't really had to worry about hours because the mom drops off at 7:00, works from 7:15-4:15 and is always here by 4:35/4:40 at the latest. They are great, good communicators, give me birthday/Christmas gifts, always pay on time and have even given me paid days off that I didn't ask for.

I am currently in the process of getting licensed, but ideally want my hours to be 7:00-5:00. I'm not willing to lose the family I have, so I have to start at 7:00. I am a little worried though that I will be limiting the families I can take (those who might work until 5) and if I were to stay open until 5:30, I could be a little more picky in deciding what families to take. However, I don't want to do care for any one child longer than 10 hours a day.

I've seen that people do contracted hours, but I feel like that would be too much work. Like, "hey I'm open at 7 for this family, but you there standing outside at 7:11, you can't come in yet because your care doesn't start for 4 more minutes, even though I'm already open." I just feel like I would constantly have to be looking at the clock and figuring out how long this kid has left versus this kid and checking to see that one family didn't come in the door earlier than they should in the morning. If it's a flat 10 hour day, then I have 2 times to watch: 7am and 5pm. And there's fees if you come early or late, bottom line.

I don't care as much as it seems other providers might if parents have appointments or stop to grab milk on the way to daycare or a prescription or even take a "me" day once in a while. I'm getting paid to watch their child regardless of what they do, and is long as it they're not working 20 hours a week and leaving their kid for 50, I'm fine.

The other concern I see though, is if you do contract hours and say, you figure out one family needs care for 7 hours a day, and one needs 8.5 hours, and the other needs 10, do you still charge them all the same weekly rate? This seems unfair to me, but having a different rate for all hours again seems like a lot of work to keep track of (timing wise). Plus, if I'm open for 10 hours a day and one family only needs 7 hours of care, I can't really fill that other 3 hours with a kid, so I'm losing money. Yet it doesn't seem fair to charge them what I'd charge a family coming for 10 hours just because they work maybe an hour less per day and live closer to me.

Obviously, I'm pretty confused! I would just like a flat open from this to this time, but more than 10 hours for a kid is too much, but I don't want to not be able to find families because my hours are limiting.

Help! What do you do? How does it work for you? Negative/positive aspects of it?

If you do contracted hours, aren't you always looking at the clock in the morning or at night to make sure each kid doesn't get dropped off 2 minutes early, or a parent walks in 4 minutes late while your talking with a parent who just got there, etc. I think this would be hard to keep track of when you're already open for business for other families.
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momofsix 12:06 PM 10-12-2010
I'm different than most here, as I don't really care if the parents are exactly "on time". If parents have to be at work at 8, and they come around 7:30 for the half hour drive, I don't really care if it's 7:23 or 7:32,,,KWIM? Same with pick-ups, and I've never had a real problem with parents taking advantage of it. I don't have late fees or anything, I understand how life happens. (But i completely understand those that have them!)
My parents pay by the day, whether it's 7 hours or 10 (less then half day is different) and this is because even if your child is only here 7 hours, they take up the spot for the day-there would be no way to make up the other 3 hours of lost money (it would be hard to fill part time spots like that)
I'm not sure if you meant you don't want to do work for more that 10 hours/day or if that's for each indiidual child? I work 11-12 hour days, but the longest any child stays is 10 hours. You could easily just state that you have a 10 hour limit if that's the case.

Good luck!
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Daycare_Mama 12:16 PM 10-12-2010
Thanks for your reply momofsix. I, too, don't care a bunch about a few minutes here or there. I know my current parents are at work and they get here as soon as they can. But, I think I will need to be more strict when I have more families though, so I don't get taken advantage of.

I meant 10 hours max per kid. I would be willing to work up to 11 hours a day, but that's what I'm wondering..how you do the 10 hour thing if you are actually open longer hours. I don't want to have a bunch of different schedules going and have to be looking at the clock constantly if I have a few families that drop-offs and pick-ups are a few minutes a part (contracted). So, I thought only being open 10 hours would eliminate that hassle, but might limit my families.

Just interested in what works for other providers, so I can figure out what to do.
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laundryduchess@yahoo.com 12:20 PM 10-12-2010
I do contracted times, and yes, I fill that 3 hour gap with another child. My families dont know what I charge each other. Its not their business honestly. They call for care, ask how much? I say ,.. what hours,... then if I know they need 11 hours a day I tack on a little extra to the price, they never know they pay more than others. I dont have a price sheet posted in the office.
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MyAngels 12:36 PM 10-12-2010
I don't have contracted hours, either. I'm open 7:00 - 5:00, and am very strict about the closing times. Fortunately I've never had a problem finding families who work within the times I'm open, and are never late to pick up. I'm very explicit in my contract about my closing times, which I'm sure helps them to understand my position on that. I also don't charge late fees, for the simple reason that I don't want families to feel that it's okay to be late as long as they are willing to pay the fee .
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AnythingsPossible 12:42 PM 10-12-2010
I do not do contracted hours. I am open from 7:30 to 5:30 and the parents are paying for a 10 hour day. So if they get off work at 4, as long as they are here by 5:30, I truly don't care what they are doing with their time. Do i think they should come get their kiddo's? Of course! You'ld like to think they would want to spend time with their kids, but, they pay for their spot, it's their choice of how they utilize it. I do not have an issue with late pick ups. People are always here by 5:30, the only exception to that is a mom who works in a doctors office and is sometimes late due to late days, she calls and lets me know and it's all good.
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SunflowerMama 12:56 PM 10-12-2010
I try to make it as simple as possible. I'm open 7:30a - 5:30p. Because I am open 10 hours I'm ok if I watch children the whole time. Like pp I don't watch kids longer than 10 hours.

If I have a family that wants to work something out and come earlier that's ok they just need to pick up early. So for instance I have one dcg that comes at 7a but is picked up by 4:30p. The rest come at 7:30a and are all picked up by 5:30p.

I charge a flat weekly rate for everyone regardless of how many hours kids are in care. I also only do full-time to make things easier.
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momma2girls 03:21 PM 10-12-2010
Originally Posted by laundryduchess@yahoo.com:
I do contracted times, and yes, I fill that 3 hour gap with another child. My families dont know what I charge each other. Its not their business honestly. They call for care, ask how much? I say ,.. what hours,... then if I know they need 11 hours a day I tack on a little extra to the price, they never know they pay more than others. I dont have a price sheet posted in the office.
I do the same thing!!
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Unregistered 08:31 PM 10-12-2010
I also live in your area, and I agree that you might lose families that work until 5:00 if your closing time is 5:00. I am open until 5:30, and ALL of the parents pick up right at 5:30 because they all work until 5:00. I open at 7:00am as well, and this is what I do. The rate is $____/week for up to 50 hours of care. If you need more than 50 hours (up to the 52.5 that I am open), additional fees may apply. I can decide. I don't care if they drop off at 7:05 or 7:15 each day. I don't track it by the minute. When they enroll, I ask the hours they will need. If it's generally 7:30-5:00, that's fine-I charge the regular fee, and I don't care if it's 5-10 minutes extra here and there. If they know they need 7:00-5:30 every day, that's fine too. I may add some to their extra weekly fee. I can decide and I can go by averages. I have great families and everyone understands that. I do know, however, that I can count on working until 5:30 every day. I will never get done early, and there will be a "mass exodus" at the end of the day when everyone leaves at the same time.
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BentleysBands 04:29 AM 10-13-2010
thats how i always felt as OP wrote....i have a flat rate . i'm open 6a-6p...i dont care how long a kid is here, they are paying for it . i hate those who use the exact hours i'm open but i have to suck it up . i dont care what they are doing in that time so long as i'm paid.
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