Setting daycare fees is an area that many new providers have trouble with. The easiest way to handle this is to have a pricing sheet already made up before any parent interviews. The sheet will give different prices for various ages of children, and what both part-time and full-time fees would be.
Fees vary greatly around the country. Providers in big cities generally charge more for services than those in rural areas. The easiest way to find out the fees in your area is to ask current daycare providers. They are generally quite helpful to those just getting started. Talk to a few to determine an average price.
Your local Resource and Referral Center should also be able to tell you the general rates in your area. You don't want to overprice yourself right out of business, nor do you want to underprice yourself.
Keep in mind when setting daycare fees that any extra services you offer, such as driving children back and forth to activities, or providing care at night or on weekends, will make your fees higher.
Use a simple fill-in-the-blank pricing sheet. Determine if you will charge extra for infants. Most providers do. Providers also typically charge more per hour for a part-time child than one who is full time. The toddler and preschoolers section could be combined into one. You also need to determine if you will charge a reduced rate for a second or third child in a family.
Or... you can do what I did and charge the same fee regardless of age. I had a flat rate fee per child. One fee for full time; and another for part time. I offered a slight price reduction for a second child. The most important factor is that you set your fees based on what you are comfortable with.
Helpful hint: When setting daycare fees, plan on raising your rates yearly. This is to keep up with the cost of living, if nothing else. Make sure this information is listed on your pricing sheet. Raise your rates every year at the same time, and always give parents a 30 day notice. Make sure parents sign a copy of your pricing sheet and keep it in the file for their child.
Setting your daycare fees is not difficult at all once you know the going rates in your area. Once this form is completed according to the rates in your part of the country, you will feel much more confident when talking to parents about your fees.
Also, do not be intimidated into lowering your fees. I had two sets of parents who asked for a break on the fees during the initial interview. My fees were set just slightly lower than the average fees in this area. I refused both times. I simply explained that I could not charge different rates for children in the same daycare setting. Clearly it was unfair to the other parents.
My feeling on the issue is this: Parents who try to intimidate you during the initial visit will become problems in other areas too. Remember that this is a business and setting your fees is an important part. You need to set your fees to gain a profit. Trust your own judgment.
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