Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daycare Dilemma

I'm currently having a bit of a dilemma with one of my daycare kids. His parents haven't been paying me on time, they never really have from the get-go, but it's been getting progressively worse. They have explained that they are struggling financially right now-but sheesh, who isn't? I really should just give them a 2-week notice and be done with it.

But...I like this kid a lot. He's 9 and unlike most of the other kids I've had in my care, this young man is very respectful and polite. He always asks to get a drink even though I let all the kids help themselves. When one of the other boys called him on this, saying, "You don't have to ask, this is daycare." This boy said, "It doesn't matter. If I'm at someone else's house I always ask." He never misses a "please" or "thank you" or "goodbye" either.

He also gets along well with the other kids. He doesn't have issues of always having to be right, or trying to act like top dog, or setting bad examples for the others. In fact he almost always has his homework done before he gets off the bus, or does it immediately without being told. He will play just as well with the other boys as with the girls. He will even sit and play a game of Candyland with 5 year old Nat.

His parents however, will avoid coming to get him when they owe money, sending his older brother instead. They owed me 4 weeks of care and when they finally paid me, they were $20 short. They now owe me for another week and a half plus the $20. His dad told me how they're struggling, and how sorry he was he couldn't pay on time, but we're struggling as well and $30-$40 a week is kind of a big deal to me.

This boy has also been having migraine headaches and his folks have had to take him to specialists and get MRIs to find out what's going on with him so I know that's an added expense they're dealing with. This last weekend he went back to Stanford for test results, and on Monday when he came off the bus, he told me that the tests showed that he doesn't have a brain tumor. Gosh, can you imagine a 9 year-old boy having to comprehend something like that? And he was so grown up about it when he told me. I guess they still don't know what's causing the headaches though.

So here I am thinking, his parents have been flaky, non-communicative and avoiding, it's very likely that they'll string me along and throw me a bone once in a while, but chances are I won't ever get paid in full. It's the principal of the thing and I should just tell them I can't watch their child anymore.

But then, I'm quitting daycare come June, so even if I did quit watching this boy, I wouldn't fill his spot anyway. If this had been any other kid I would've canceled our contract long ago. I feel like I'm being used, but then on the other hand I like having this boy around. At this point I'm leaning towards just getting whatever I can out of his parents and writing off the rest on next year's taxes as a loss. Oh, well...


Holly said...

Do they know that you're quitting daycare in June? I suppose you can give them two weeks' notice (in writing) and say that unless they pay you in full by such and such date you will no longer be able to care for their son. It's a tough call.

This is your business, but so often people treat their daycare providers like babysitters who don't need the money. They don't treat their daycare providers with respect and that bugs me to no end. You have to treat it like a business and treat them like clients. When they tell you that they are struggling financially you reply, "Yes, I understand that. But, you have contracted with me and you agreed to pay me to care for your son. If you can't pay me, I can't care for your child." And then you stand firm!

(I know you didn't ask for my advice, but having been a working mom, I bent over backwards to never take advantage of my awesome daycare provider. I have strong feelings on the issue!)

Moody said...

Yes they know I'm quitting. And I totally agree with you--they're struggling financially but they are obligated to pay me and I should be a priority. It's my paycheck they are withholding, really. I feel like a weenie about it and I guess that's why it's bugging me, plus I don't like playing favorites -which I am doing- because if this was a kid I didn't like he'd be gone in a heart beat. I do sincerely appreciate the advice. We daycare providers are really on our own, and I have no one to talk to this about that understands. Thanks!

Magirk said...

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. I don't even know what to say, it's such a tough situation. I've never done daycare, so I don't know that feeling of not getting paid for your work. But I also admire you for being so understanding.

I can't imagine being 9 years old and wondering about your health so in depth like that, poor guy.

I hope you'll be able to work something out with them. I'm really sorry I don't have anything productive or helpful to say. I just hope you get something, if not all, out of it money-wise. And I hope he's okay. He sounds like a great kid.