Managing income in a term time setting

Ellen Manton, Childminder in Nottinghamshire

I am a childminder who offers term-time only, privately funded, before and after school/preschool care. I work on an annual contract with parents, which runs in line with the school year, and gives them a fixed monthly fee across the 12mth period.

The how

At the beginning of each year, the parents give me the core hours they need childcare each week. I take those hours and multiple the number by 38 (the number of school weeks) and then divide by 12 (for the months in the year). Here’s an example;

Child A core hours

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

TOTAL

08:00-12:00 (4hrs)

08:00-17:00 (9hrs)

0hrs

08:00-12:00 (4hrs)

08:00-17:00 (9hrs)

26 hours

  • 26 x 38 = 988 hours per year
  • 988 / 12 = 82.33 hours per month
  • Monthly bill for child A = £ hourly rate x 82.33

I keep all this information on a simple spreadsheet. I aim to have parents pay me on the 12th of the month for that month, although I am flexible on that and some parents pay me as late as 24th of month.  

If a parent needs to cancel the contract at any time in the year, there will be a shortfall between what they have already paid me, and how much money I am owed for the services that I have already provided. This occurs because the monthly payment is reduced to facilitate me being paid across the whole 12 months, even during the weeks I am not working. I work out the number of school weeks used up to that point, and I bill them for the outstanding money.

The why

I find this system very simple and easy to use, and it provides me with the security that I know exactly what I will be paid each month. It also means I have income across the school holidays, even when I’m not delivering childcare. I can manage my income much more effectively, and most months I am able to keep 10% of my income aside for emergencies, equipment and resources. Although some months I don’t achieve this, overall it allows me to have a reserve.

It also means there is no need for formal invoices, although any additional hours are charged monthly with a separate bill. I do have one parent who pays using a monthly invoice for the hours I have provided, but I charge a premium rate for this facility.

Parents have not objected to this method, in fact they like the fact that they can budget for a fixed monthly payment. During lockdown I did not charge parents, however I did have some income, as parents had underpaid and when I recalculated their bills they paid the outstanding money.