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child minding fees

(44 Posts)
StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 09:57:48

Hi all,
sorry as this has probably been asked before... is it common for child minder to charge a half hourly fee for my oldest dd whilst she's in school as a "retainer"?
my friend thinks it's really inappropriate and that I'm paying too much. But my two dd's are her only two children she looks after. She has two dd's herself. she works flexible hours and has the girls on different days every week. 2-3 days a week.

I thought it was quite common to charge a retainer?

Saltire Mon 25-Feb-13 10:08:50

It is usually quite common. Does your friend use a CM. In my experience people who don't, or have never, used a CM don't "get" the point of retainers

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 10:13:48

she used to have one. But her mum has now taken over her girls child care and she pays her mum.
she gave me a hard time over the weekend about how I'm being ripped off. sad
I felt really stupid, but I am so happy with our cm she's brilliant with our girls and really does so much.
I justified it by saying that she doesn't have any other children on her books so can afford lots of time for our two girls.
my friends old child minder had A LOT of children when ever I saw her on school run etc so I just assumed she didn't feel the need to charge a retainer as her basic monthly rate must be a lot higher.

BertieBotts Mon 25-Feb-13 10:14:41

It is very common. If you're happy then your friend is being silly.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 10:21:00

Ok, thanks. I feel better now. grin

ZuleikaD Mon 25-Feb-13 10:24:50

Yes, perfectly normal, your friend may just not know how CMs work.

MortifiedAdams Mon 25-Feb-13 10:27:50

Does the CM have your dd before school and after, or just after? How old is your dd that you pay a retainer for?

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 10:37:04

yes. she has my two from 0730 until 1730 twice a week and occasionally three times a week.
she gives them breakfast if they haven't already eaten, snacks, lunch for the little one (2years), I send my oldest with school packed lunch (4years 6months) and they have a hot evening meal with her.

average day's child care for both of them is £69

I have no idea if that's good, bad, average?

SarkyPants Mon 25-Feb-13 10:42:36

Our CM charges a retainer for nursery age kids who go to nursery, but not for school.

But that doesn't mean that you are being 'ripped off'. Different CMs have different fee structures and there is not such thing as 'standard' IME.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 11:31:17

That's what dh said. smile

SarkyPants Mon 25-Feb-13 12:06:34

for the record.... I am not your DH smile

and IME as someone who has gone through mulitple CMs, I'd happily pay a bit over the odds for a CM who gave us exactly the hours that we need and that was fab with the kids. A good CM is priceless IME.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 12:22:31

couldn't agree more. she's got the same "way" with the kids that I have. we share similar view points and really get on. her girls are same age as mine and play so well together. I think there is perhaps a hint of jealousy from my friend... but I was doubting my judgement and just wanted to ask on here.

and for the record... my dh wouldn't have a clue how to post on mumsnet... atleast I don't think so!grin

SarkyPants Mon 25-Feb-13 12:28:42

You could perhaps ask her whether the same fee structure will apply once your younger DC is at school. At this point the retainer will be costing you a lot and making this option mauch more expensive than (for example) breakfast club + after school club. It is possible that she might be happy with a compromise.
My current CM has been flexible with retainers in order to keep DC that she might have lost if she charged the full retainer.

But these are difficult conversations to have.
I've done it under the guise of "needing information in order to plan ahead" so that she didn't think I was complaining about the current fees.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 12:40:19

That's really helpful, thanks. I really don't begrudge paying, I just worried that my friend was right and I was being stupid. smile
it's hard to know what's acceptable as there are so many variables between cm's.

SarkyPants Mon 25-Feb-13 12:57:31

I think that all you can do is compare the costs of the actual options available to you. No point in comparing to a mythical CM that doesn't exist in your area.
If your school has clubs then find out what they would cost so at least you know how much of a premium you are paying for the luxury of a CM you know and trust. And then work out how much this will increase when your decond DC starts school.
My guess is that your CM would be flexible if it is clear that your costs are much higher than other realistic options.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 13:25:15

Yes, thats a good point.
I have just read on another thread on here about CM retainer fees, that the main point of them is because it would be hard to find another child to look after to fit into the hours my DD is away from her at school...
...however, my CM has just taken on another child this week who will be going 9-3pm every day, so it effectively "filling" my DD's gap.

I do also appreciate what others have said about my CM being there during school holidays and when they are closed to still have my DD. It's swings and roundabouts really. I don't want to rock the boat with her at all, like I said, she's still providing a priceless service to DH and I.

looneytune Mon 25-Feb-13 13:53:03

Sorry to come in and say something completely different but I'd have to say that NO, this is not 'common'. It doesn't mean she can't and you shoudn't pay but it is actually not that common to pay for a child who is at FULL TIME SCHOOL for those school hours. If they are in nursery or not full time school then yes, I'd charge for the whole contracted hours but it's more common for a childminder to charge a before and after school fee if they are in full tim school. If you didn't need care in the school holidays it's quite common to still be charged a retainer to keep the space (I never did as was able to get holiday only contracts) but I don't think it's 'common' for the arrangement you have with your CM. Having said that, if you like the fact it's just your kiddies there then there's nothing wrong with paying what she's asking for, I one had someone pay me for 2 spaces so I kept myunder 5 ratio lower.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 13:56:44

hmmm, thanks looneytune. I appreciate your honesty. I've just read on the NICMA guide to negotiating fees that retainers during a childs school day once they are in full time education are not normal. SO now I'm confused again confused

looneytune Mon 25-Feb-13 14:08:12

Seriously, I think later when the other childminders have finished work and read this you'll start hearing another side as I bet non of my fellow CMs on here would charge for a school child. The fact your eldest is in FULL TIME EDUCATION is what makes all he difference smile

HSMMaCM Mon 25-Feb-13 14:21:49

I wouldn't charge a retainer while a child is at full time school. The retainer might be to reflect the flexibility she is offering for the days though?

I would charge a retainer if the space wasn't used in the holidays.

It sounds like you are happy and she can be flexible to meet your needs, so it's up to you if you want to ask her about it.

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 14:23:40

Well she is extremely flexible, that is why I am reluctant to make it an issue. confused

dobby2001 Mon 25-Feb-13 14:37:53

I think the flexibility is the key here. If she is having the children for differing hours and on differing days, she may be charging the retainer as a way of compensating for the fact she cannot have other mindees on the days that she is keeping the space available for you children. I know of CMs who do a higher hourly rate for this reason.

Bottom line, if you are happy with care then thats all that matters. It should be detailed in your contract what you pay and why, but if not, you can always do what I do in these situations, and act very dumb with a "can I just check something about the fees?" type question?

Hope you get things sorted to your satifisfaction.

HSMMaCM Mon 25-Feb-13 15:06:39

Should also add ... although I wouldn't charge a retainer, I would charge for every day, to be available whatever days you needed, so that might work out the same price.

MrAnchovy Mon 25-Feb-13 15:36:09

Your elder child is taking up one of 3 full-time under 5 spaces so you can't reasonably expect to only pay for the time she is there 2 days a week.

After the 1st September when she is 5 it is a different matter.

But whichever way you look at it if you are getting great childcare for 2 children for £67 a day on flexible days I think you should ignore your "friend" and not look this gift horse in the mouth!

StarryHappy Mon 25-Feb-13 15:58:53

Thanks for all your valid points. I really appreciate your comments. I've been thinking it over all day, and I do understand that what I'm paying for the type of flexible care is actually a reasonable sum. grin

I just think from what you've all said that I need to clarify with my cm why she is actually charging the retainer. and as indeed someone has just pointed out (sorry I'm on my phone and can't see you name whilst typing reply) perhaps when my oldest turns five she falls into a different bracket and perhaps I would have to look at things again?

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