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Old 06-10-2016, 02:50 PM
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Question Waiting List Question

Hello, I'm a parent new to daycare as well as to this site. (I hope this question is in the correct section so please let me know if I should have created the thread elsewhere!)

My question may seem naive/silly: why are there so many daycare waiting lists across the country? Why don't providers simply raise their rates until people who are willing to pay get in immediately and those who are not convinced it is worth the price go to a different location?

Other threads on this forum suggest that some caregivers are being generous or only raise rates on new customers (and even then by not as much as they probably could). Is there some other regulatory reason why rates aren't higher? Can a more experienced/knowledgeable person shed some light on this issue? The recent media attention on child care has been that child care is expensive but it seems that it could be even more expensive given the waiting list situation.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate your input!
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Daycare78 View Post
Hello, I'm a parent new to daycare as well as to this site. (I hope this question is in the correct section so please let me know if I should have created the thread elsewhere!)

My question may seem naive/silly: why are there so many daycare waiting lists across the country? Why don't providers simply raise their rates until people who are willing to pay get in immediately and those who are not convinced it is worth the price go to a different location?

Other threads on this forum suggest that some caregivers are being generous or only raise rates on new customers (and even then by not as much as they probably could). Is there some other regulatory reason why rates aren't higher? Can a more experienced/knowledgeable person shed some light on this issue? The recent media attention on child care has been that child care is expensive but it seems that it could be even more expensive given the waiting list situation.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate your input!
Your questions are bolded, my answers follow...

why are there so many daycare waiting lists across the country? Good, quality care is hard to find.

Why don't providers simply raise their rates until people who are willing to pay get in immediately and those who are not convinced it is worth the price go to a different location? Because the clients I have are enrolled are enrolled because they are a good fit NOT because they pay more or would be willing to pay more. Sadly some of the worst kids I've ever had in care had parents that would have paid ANY price I quoted if I'd continue caring for their child.

My time, self worth and sanity are worth MORE than agreeing to care of a child/family that isn't a good fit for me and my program

Is there some other regulatory reason why rates aren't higher? No there is no rule or regulation that dictate what I charge for rates but I certainly am not going to have an business if I charge a parent more than their budget can afford or more than they are being paid themselves.
Supply and demand play a huge role in rates but how much the community can sustain plays a bigger role.

Bottom line for me I do this job for the money but it's not all about the money.

I need to have families I am able to work with, kids that get along well and clients that I know care about all the other things that child care entails.... quality, program content, provider training/experience, location, etc....

I hope that helps answer your questions.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
Your questions are bolded, my answers follow...

why are there so many daycare waiting lists across the country? Good, quality care is hard to find.

Why don't providers simply raise their rates until people who are willing to pay get in immediately and those who are not convinced it is worth the price go to a different location? Because the clients I have are enrolled are enrolled because they are a good fit NOT because they pay more or would be willing to pay more. Sadly some of the worst kids I've ever had in care had parents that would have paid ANY price I quoted if I'd continue caring for their child.

My time, self worth and sanity are worth MORE than agreeing to care of a child/family that isn't a good fit for me and my program

Is there some other regulatory reason why rates aren't higher? No there is no rule or regulation that dictate what I charge for rates but I certainly am not going to have an business if I charge a parent more than their budget can afford or more than they are being paid themselves.
Supply and demand play a huge role in rates but how much the community can sustain plays a bigger role.

Bottom line for me I do this job for the money but it's not all about the money.

I need to have families I am able to work with, kids that get along well and clients that I know care about all the other things that child care entails.... quality, program content, provider training/experience, location, etc....

I hope that helps answer your questions.
Thanks, Blackcat31! It makes sense that there are many other dimensions besides price that are important for getting a good client match. Perhaps the waiting list makes it possible to sort out those other characteristics.

I suspect it varies by state but I have heard that serving lower income families can come with subsidies but that there are additional rules with this sort of contract. That is what I was thinking of when it comes the regulation side of things.

And I just want to be clear that I fully appreciate the work that child care providers do! It is a tough job that requires a passion for the well-being of children. My curiosity is really due to the fact that waiting lists are generally rare in other business/services, especially ones that are so long and persistent. I'd expect over time that more child care providers would open up or that prices would inch up to reduce the waiting list times.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
Supply and demand play a huge role in rates but how much the community can sustain plays a bigger role.


In some businesses, a high demand/supply ratio means you can charge higher prices and go for a more niche market, but in child care, the problem is just not enough supply.
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Old 06-10-2016, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Daycare78 View Post
Thanks, Blackcat31! It makes sense that there are many other dimensions besides price that are important for getting a good client match. Perhaps the waiting list makes it possible to sort out those other characteristics.

I suspect it varies by state but I have heard that serving lower income families can come with subsidies but that there are additional rules with this sort of contract. That is what I was thinking of when it comes the regulation side of things.

Yes, taking families on subsidy can be a separate regulation for providers to follow. Some states do not allow providers to charge parents on assistance the difference between their regular rate and what the assistance program is willing to reimburse. When the state reimbursement amount is less than a providers regular rate she/he would obviously be hesitant to accept assistance families.

I am allowed to charge the difference to the parent but I am required to do additional paperwork that Id normally not be required to do if I had private pay families only.

I personally limit the number of families/children I take that are on assistance due to the fact that payment is usually timely but there have been times when our government has had to suspend all financial actions and that means no paycheck for me.


And I just want to be clear that I fully appreciate the work that child care providers do! It is a tough job that requires a passion for the well-being of children. My curiosity is really due to the fact that waiting lists are generally rare in other business/services, especially ones that are so long and persistent. I'd expect over time that more child care providers would open up or that prices would inch up to reduce the waiting list times.
I have a few families on my wait list that are currently attending other programs or a new providers program until a space becomes available in my program.
Each for different/personal reasons I assume.
After being in business for a while, many veteran providers build a good reputation so families will make due in one program until they get into another program.

No, there aren't alot of other businesses that have waitlists but then again there aren't alot of other businesses that can be as personal.

Last edited by Blackcat31; 06-10-2016 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Edited spelling errors
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:51 PM
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There is plenty of daycare out there, sadly not all of it is quality care. I don't currently have a wait list, I have one spot open. That spot is open because the people who I have talked to about it, well most of them I wouldn't work with even for more money. Part of the reason that the spots don't "open up" is because when we get good families to work with, and they have more children, their children get the spots that do come open. It is often a "perk" or having a good relationship with your provider. Some providers have provided care for the same families for years and years, factoring in gaps in the children. Say the two year old has a sibling, when that two year old ages out for school the family may have another child. So the family is still enrolled in those same spots.

As far as subsidy, I can't afford to do what they want for me to take it, and they will pay less than my private pay on top of that. Not to mention that my licensing agent has refused to license home daycare's who do not meet center requirements. I am considering calling the state level about her, but that is another story. She is the reason there are next to no licensed homes in my county who take subsidy. At the end of the day, that doesn't matter I can't afford to take subsidy.
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Old 06-10-2016, 08:29 PM
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I just want to throw out there that my center actually has been steadily raising its rates in response to our insane waiting list. Except for our SA program, there aren't even waiting list spots available right now.

Yet, we are still full with a full waiting lists; far as I know, no one left over the rate increases. The center is simply now one of the most expensive ones in the area. Fortunately, the center is putting the extra income back into the rooms (yay bigger classroom budgets!) and into additional staff training.

On the other hand, there are plenty of cheaper centers in the same area that have plenty of open slots. The perceived (and probably actual) quality of care is lower and therefore less desirable. While there are parents who would happily leave their child with a lower quality provider to save money, there are a lot of parents who don't want to and would rather leave their child with a better provider even if it costs significantly more.

Really, good care is just hard to find. Though I don't get why more people don't utilize the high quality home daycares in my area. They're mostly still full, but for the most part, they aren't as ridiculously full.
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Old 06-13-2016, 10:04 AM
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I am a FCC that accepts only 6 children. I am interviewing and reserving spaces over a year in advance at this point. I found a niche market in our area, have been in business for several years and have clientele all based on word of mouth.

Most other providers in my area are struggling to fill spaces. I have two programs locally copying my program (with less success)

Quality speaks for itself.

I do charge higher rates, I am aligned with some center rates, and higher than market rate (average rates) for my area. I do not raise rates for current families, only new families. The only time I would do a rate change for current families is when they change their schedule. I charge a higher daily rate for PT clients. eg. 200/week= 5 days 180/week=4 days 150/week=3 days, 110/week= 2 days, 60/day drop in or 1 day/week.

I do not accept subsidy.

I LOVE that I am able to interview and chose a family that is absolutely a great fit for my program. I would never charge more to them just because I could. I think it would be unethical. One family I have enrolled that has been here the longest (currently), I haven't raised their rates in 4 years. They are enrolling their second child here with the same rate. (after being placed on my waiting list when pregnant, and paying the deposit and two weeks with a loose estimated start date)

My waiting list is only in the event that an 'unforeseen' space becomes available. A family moves, job loss, I terminate, etc.

I COULD go group, hire a ft assistant, or open a small center and have great success. I just don't want the hassle. I already work a minimum of 60 hour/weeks.
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Old 06-13-2016, 12:32 PM
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Providers have waiting lists in case of turnover. Sometimes I have no turnover for several years and other years I have several aging out. If you keep a waiting list of interested families it takes less time to fill the space.

There likely aren't tons of new providers because the hours can be long, the work can be hard, and both parental and license expectations can be high. It's no longer an easy way for a SAHM to bring in a little extra money.
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Old 06-13-2016, 02:59 PM
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Thank you all so much for the detailed responses! This definitely helps me better understand the landscape of child care. The "product" is clearly different than other businesses so it makes sense that a good match trumps the sticker price.
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