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Help please! First time using After School Care. A few questions re the ridiculously high session fees and retainer fees.

(41 Posts)
UncertainMum Thu 17-Jan-13 19:55:04

Okay, so there are only two local ASCs near my daughter's school. And i have to start her in one of them in a few weeks.

Went to visit them this week.

They were roughly the same in price, but i didn't like the first one. So have decided to go with the second.

I got the contract sent out today in the post and i've just discovered they charge a retainer fee! I'm really surprised by this for ASCs actually.

They don't charge by hour. They charge by session. 3pm-6pm = £11.50, regardless of whether you pick them up at 4pm or 6pm.

£5 additional charge for up to 20 minutes late.
£7 additional charge for up to 30 minutes late.

A full day (in service day/school holiday) costs £23.

I called today to say i only require a term time place, what will the retainer charge be?

It's 50% normal rate. So £5.75. Which, over the course of a 6 week summer holiday, really adds up.

They said it was so that my child still has the option to attend the club during holidays. E.g. trips/outings etc.

This I don't get. What if i wanted to send my child one day during the holiday at her usual time 3pm-6pm, but they were away on an outing? It wouldn't be possible. Yet i'd still be expected to pay the retainer fee, or else send her for the full day, so she could go out with them, which is yet more money.

Can anyone advise whether or not this is normal re costs. Seems quite extravagant.

Also - I'm really stuck with what to do in the mornings. Come October, i'm going to be full time, so dd will be out the house 8-6 every weekday. Can only find one breakfast club, but it's part of the other ASC i went to visit which i didn't like very much. But then, it would only be for an hour a day.

Would it be too much for my dd to go to one club for breakfast, then a different one after school?

Really panicking how much this is going to cost me - especially over the summer. Tax credits won't help with costs over holidays if my dd doesn't attend the clubs during that time, will they?

Sorry for the rambling questions.

Seriously panicking!

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 18-Jan-13 15:54:33

Ours runs on the school premises, breakfast club is £3 and after school care is £7.50 until 5.30 and £8 until 6pm. Breakfast is given and a sandwich, fruit and fresh juice at ASC.

Its only open term time though so no holiday cover and you book in advance the week before. If you dont used a booked session its still charged for as standard.

Its fab, i know DS is well looked after on the days i dont finish at 3 and doesnt have to be collected by anybody else or taken to a different place.

Redbindy Fri 18-Jan-13 15:58:30

You could of course look after your own daughter.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 18-Jan-13 16:17:54

Gosh, Redbindy, why didn't we think of that? Oh yes, because the OP has explained that she will be in full time work in October, hence needing an after school club.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 18-Jan-13 16:19:10

That's a helpful comment Redbindy hmm

Op has explained how she'll be staring a full time university course - do you know many of those that work around school hours and term dates?!

UncertainMum Fri 18-Jan-13 16:58:49

Thanks, Redbindy, but as an LP, my dd relies on me to bring home some money. Unless you think she could survive on air?

Anyway, thanks again for the constructive advice, everybody. Just off the phone with the ASC.

They've confirmed that I'll have to pay £5.75 retainer fee.

I asked, does that mean the after school slot is still available those days during holidays. i.e. 3pm-6pm? They said no, they're normally out for the day at 9am. So if i wanted to send her that day, i'd have to pay the full session fee of £23. I was a bit put out by this. Why am i being charged a retainer fee for a service that isn't technically available during holidays?

The thing that makes up for this is that they said my retainer fees accumulate so that i get one full day free (or something like that). Not sure it all makes sense though.

Dd loves it and knows a few other children that attend.

And tbh, i might actually need to use their holiday club in 2014 anyway when i start my uni placements, so keeping her spot open will be handy i suppose...

Fingers crossed though that my mum can help out with drop offs in the mornings.

Another reason i'm worrying about the breakfast club (which is part of the different ASC) is that my child's school is the first one they drop off to in the mornings. And i don't like the idea of my 5yo being left in the yard for 15 minutes alone each morning waiting on the bell to go. The school is on a main road, and she's not very safety aware.

grendel Fri 18-Jan-13 17:36:45

The session fees and late collection fees seem reasonable, depending on which part of the country you are in. Late collection fees are so steep not only to discourage you from being late but also to pay for the extra time of the TWO members of staff who have to stay late to look after your child.

I have never come across an after school club that charges a retainer over the holidays though. Is the club over-subscribed? If not you could just cancel your booking at the end of the summer term and restart it in September and just take a chance that there will still be a place available. Clearly this tactic won't work if they are often fully booked.

The deal whereby the accumulated retainer days add up to a free day might balance things out though. You need to get more info on this.

NickNacks Fri 18-Jan-13 18:18:08

Again, I don't know why you don't use a childminder on a term time only basis if this ASC retainer fee is causing issue??

BranchingOut Fri 18-Jan-13 18:21:57

Sending lucky vibes that your mum can do mornings.

I suspect that you might end up using it a little in the holidays too, as you may well have assignments to do over some university holiday periods.

Kiriwawa Fri 18-Jan-13 18:27:33

sorry the breakfast club drop a 5YO off outside school before it opens? Are you sure??

UncertainMum Fri 18-Jan-13 18:35:30

Kiri - the school gates are open from 08.45 but the yard is unsupervised by any staff until minutes before 9am when the janitor comes out. So my dd would be left in the yard to wait 15 minutes by herself before the bell goes as they're not allowed in the building before 9am. The breakfast club is not associated with the school. it's another private business a ten minute walk from it. i wouldn't trust my daughter to stay in the yard unsupervised until 9am, while the main gate is open and parents/other children are coming and going.

Nick - i'd rather use an after school club because they are less likely to close due to staff sickness etc. A CM is just one person. If s/he gets ill, i'd have to take a day off too. I would feel much better with larger staff numbers.
However, if my mum is unable to do mornings, i may have to consider a CM. But i've been looking last week and although several do before and after school, I can't see any do this term time. So i assume they'd still charge a retainer?

Grendel - the manager told me when i visited that they are insured for upto 30 kids, but usually only have 25 signed up currently, so not over subscribed.

I'm so jealous hearing how much cheaper everyone else's is!

Viviennemary Fri 18-Jan-13 18:38:49

I think the fees seem OK. Not cheap but acceptable. But I don't see why you should pay a retainer in the holidays since it's an after school club and children don't go to school in the holidays. They seem to want it both ways. I think if they charge a retainer then the facility for the child to go from 3.00-6.00 should be available.

NickNacks Fri 18-Jan-13 18:50:01

No I only charge a retainer if the space needs to be held. Otherwise TTO is perfectly normal to contract for a school aged child.

I've also not taken a single day off sick in 4 yrs, self employed people are less likely to as they don't get paid.

UncertainMum Fri 18-Jan-13 18:58:07

Vivienne - i agree. If i'm still having to pay over holidays/in service to retain the 3-6 place - that 3-6 place should still be available imo. However, all they're offering are full days over holidays/inservice. So i either pay the £23 and send her, or i pay the £5.75 and don't send her. They tried to explain this away by saying something about so many accumulated retainer fees will get me one full free day...

Nick - Thanks, i really think i am coming round to the idea of CMs. I just took it that if they didn't state before/after school was for term time only, then i'd have to pay something during holidays. Surely then that means they can only take on a mindee during holiday times in her place? It doesn't seem financially sound to me (from the CMs POV)

I also like that several CMs are open to 7pm, which is much better than the 6pm time for ASCs.

It's just that i've read so many threads on here and on other parenting sites about parents having bother with CMs who call sick/their children are sick the morning they're due to have their mindees, and parents having to take a day off.

But i think it may just be something i'll have to risk.

Dozer Fri 18-Jan-13 19:37:20

Some sneaky fact-finding could be helpful here. Is the ASC full, in term-time and holidays? If not, you might have it as a fall-back option for holidays and if you had a CM and they were unavailable.

CMs can be v reliable (mine is) and may well be more flexible and cheaper than the ASC. You have your mum as fall-back, which is good.

For the mornings, another option (illegal, but lots of people do it!) would be cash-in-hand to a friend who is a SAHM.

allotmentgirl82 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:06:02

Our after school club is £6.25 per child.
mon-thurs it runs 3.15 till 5.30
fri it runs 3.15 till 5.15

we don't pay a retainer fee or during the holidays. they only accept children from our school.

NickNacks Fri 18-Jan-13 20:08:18

Yes that's right, I have quite a few 'holiday only' mindees. Or other CMs prefer to work TTO and like to spend the hols with their own DC.

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