Good communication with parents is one of the key requirements for the smooth running of any childcare setting.
The payment system is complicated and for busy parents the number of different funding streams and different eligibility criteria can seem overwhelming.
Parents see you as an expert in every aspect of childcare and that includes free entitlement.
It is important the nursery management team is up to date on the rules and regulations so they can confidently offer guidance. This not only avoids parents' frustration but helps toward the smooth running of the nursery's cash flow.
Nurseries are businesses and cannot run effectively with ad hoc payments. When a nursery is set up, there should be a business plan in place with a date for when fees are due and also a date when a gentle reminder will be issued if payment is late. Having as many different payment methods as possible available to parents is also important and benefits the nursery.
If a payment structure has been in place but allowed to lapse, managers need to tighten up on bad practice but make sure this is effectively communicated to parents well in advance. The same approach is needed for any new payment rules being put in place when consideration of contracts with parents is also required.
The introduction of the tax-free childcare in 2015 will see a big change and nurseries can play a part in helping parents deal with the changes. When the details are out, take some time to fully update yourself with the rules and then discuss them with your team.
Put a plan in place to deal with the changes well in advance of the roll out. To help parents, you could put together a factsheet outlining the key points about any changes the nursery will need to make.