Electronic Payments for Child Care Available with Minute Menu Kids Pro

By Tom Copeland, Former Director of the Redleaf National Institute, http://www.tomcopelandblog.com/, May 2007

 
It’s the day parents are supposed to pay their family child care provider and some providers worry: Will the parent forget their checkbook? Will the parent tell me she’s run short of cash and ask me to accept payment later? Will the check bounce?

Getting paid on time is one of the child care industry’s biggest headaches. No one likes to wait until the next day, next week or their customer’s next paycheck to be paid for services they provided last week. Yet having to approach your customers for timely payment is often more awkward than the wait.

There is a new service to help you with this aspect of your business. Minute Menu Systems in partnership with ReliaFund Inc. now offers you the ability to collect payments from your parents electronically. This service is offered through Minute Menu Kids Pro: The Online Business Software for Family Child Care Providers available from Minute Menu.

Minute Menu Kids Pro Splashscreen
Here’s how it works. The provider fills out a short application within Minute Menu Kids Pro.  Once approved the provider sets up parent accounts which will allow the parent to login into a website called ChildCarePay.com.

Once logged in the parent will be able to view their invoices and make electronic payments from their computer each time a payment is due. You and the parent can also set up an automatic payment plan weekly, biweekly, or monthly. The amount of the payment will then be electronically deposited into your checking or savings account.

ChildCarePay.com ScreenshotTabytha Luikens, a family child care provider from Savage, Minnesota cares for children in families where one parent drops off their child and the other parent picks up. Too often the parent picking up would forget to bring the checkbook or not remember that it was their turn to pay. So she was eager to start using the electronic payment plan available through her Minute Menu Kids Pro software program five months ago and she loves it.

“It simplifies my life and reduces the time and money I spend traveling to my bank each week,” she said. When she presented this plan to her families, six of her current seven regular clients immediately signed up and are very happy with it. The seventh client was not interested. Tabytha set things up so that she is automatically paid on Monday of each week. To meet this goal the payments are taken from the parent’s account the previous Tuesday

These electronic transactions are private; neither you nor the parent has access to each others bank account information. The system uses the highest level of Internet security, the same used by typical banking and financial e-commerce sites.  Electronic payments are made through the same Automated Clearing House (ACH) standard that the federal government has used for more than 20 years to deliver payroll and social security payments.

Direct payment benefits you as a provider:

  • No more late payments and awkward payment reminders.
  • Improved predictability of your cash flow.
  • Fewer trips to the bank to make deposits.
  • Allows you to transition your clients from hourly payments to a weekly retainer.
  • Providers can change the amount of the payment as often as they want.
  • Provider will know sooner if the check bounces. There is a $3 returned check fee (usually lower than most bank charges).

Direct payment also benefits your clients:

  • It’s convenient and saves times as well as the embarrassment of forgetting a payment.
  •  Allows parents to match payment of child care fees to their payroll cycles.

The cost of this service is $1 per transaction (100% tax deductible when paid by the provider). Tabytha pays this fee herself and said that doing so made it easier for parents to initially agree to participate. She is now adopting a policy that will require new parents who enroll in her program to participate on this plan.

Providers may pass this cost on to the parent; in which case the $1 is automatically added to the parent payment. According to Minute Menu, approximately 30% of providers using this service pass the $1 fee onto parents and 70% pay it themselves.

For further information about this electronic payment program, go visit MinuteMenuKids.com.

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