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Concerns about chosen daycare centre
DS to start in 2 weeks


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#1 Molokai

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

I've got a few concerns about the daycare centre I've enrolled DS in and not sure if I'm overreacting.

Firstly, this centre wasn't my first choice but in Sydney CBD I didn't think I had much choice, so I accepted it after being on 5 wait lists for 8+ months. Initially I liked the centre director, and the staff in his room (baby room) seemed nice. He had two orientations and loved it, he had a great time playing and the staff were lovely with him so my initial concerns were erased and I made my peace with him attending there.

The same day the center deducted $900 from my account for his bond, I got an offer from the centre we preferred. I had less than 24 hours to make a decision, and after discussing with DH I decided to stay with the one we'd chosen initially, mostly due to me being happy enough with the centre and staff, DS enjoyed it and also I didn't know how much - if any - I'd get refunded.

The problem I have is that when I try to contact the centre, there's frequently no answer, or my emails go unanswered. Not even a 'thanks, will get back to you'. Nothing. When I've emailed and called accounts for an explanation of invoices and CCR advice, there's no response again. While drafting this post I've had a response from accounts but they've sent me an invoice covering fees (they've already deducted) for this week, even though DS doesn't start for two weeks. Plus the accounts person is giving me one-line responses when I'm asking questions (ie she said the pay run covers two weeks however my invoice only shows one week's worth of days). We are slowly resolving the issue while I type this, but still she only responds to one query per email, when my emails contains several and I have to keep asking the same questions.

Am I being precious about expecting more prompt responses to communications, or is this the norm in daycare? I work in an office and the thing I hate most is lack of response to emails or calls - I think it shows such a lack of organisation and care. Can I assume the child workers are similarly disorganised and careless?

I am now having great reservations about leaving my son in a centre that cannot even get back to me, or answer calls - what if I needed to contact them urgently while he was there? I'm putting 100% faith in this company to take care of my only child while I return to work. I've never left him with anyone other than DH in his whole life and I'm really worried I've made a huge mistake. I'm going to ask the other centre tomorrow if the spot I turned down is still available (which I highly doubt) and if I lose the now $1200, so be it.

And, when I'm already feeling so unsettled about this, when I googled the company just now the first story that came up was that one of this center's campuses (not the one he's enrolled in) has a staff member attending court for alleged child sex offenses, although the director denies it.

Should I cut my losses and pull him out before he's even began? I'm so torn up about this now. First and foremost is my son's safety.

Thanks for any comments.

#2 Madnesscraves

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

Oh wow I'd be hopping mad with lack of response. I'd go directly in and speak to the director about the lack of communication and find out what's going on.

#3 Molokai

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:29 PM

QUOTE (Madnesscraves @ 30/01/2013, 06:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh wow I'd be hopping mad with lack of response. I'd go directly in and speak to the director about the lack of communication and find out what's going on.

The director is the one I email without response though. And I asked her about the email both times I went in for orientation and both times she fobbed me off ('oh yes, I haven't responded yet have I?' and 'oh...oh, I'm waiting on head office to get back to me') and also once when I called (to which she asked 'have you emailed me about it?').

I want to go above her head but their website is useless in advising me who I can contact. Another issue I have - how difficult is it to have a functioning and updated website?

#4 jobo77

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:38 PM

My daycare is hopeless with answering emails and have stuffed up more than 1 invoice. But the carers aren't the ones that deal with that side of things and they are the ones that will be looking after your DS (hopefully anyway!). For me I always go straight to the Director now and she has given me her personal mobile number now so we can sort invoicing issues directly. It is hard because she runs more than 1 centre so unfortunately does not seem to be 100% on the ball all the time. They also have a new billing system that is fully automated that is not working as it should...

I stay with the centre though because the kids love their rooms and the carers and I figure thats the main thing. I would be surprised if any of the daily carers are also the ones doing the accounting and answering emails. Our centre has a Manager who does a lot of the admin plus some caring but other than that all the others carers do just that - caring for the kids.

I would try and see or speak to the Director directly and tell her your reservations about starting there. If you do decide to stay with them, keep a close eye on all your statements and if you can afford to, have the CCR paid directly to you rather than the centre so that way you don't have to keep on top of that too with their invoices. And set up a separate bank account for childcare if direct deposit is the only way the centre will take payment so that way they can't take more than what you have been invoiced for (learnt that the hard way recently!)  original.gif

Edited by jobo77, 30 January 2013 - 05:39 PM.


#5 Threelittleducks

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:38 PM

I don't think it matters if your concerns are valid or not....the only thing that matters is that you feel comfortable when you drop your baby there and go to work.

If you can work all day and know you don't have to worry about your son then it's fine, if you can't then you have a problem.

Why don't you bring up your concerns with the director and see how they respond. The people in accounts don't have anything to do with your son's care. So ask for a direct number to the centre.

We've just started daycare and I've been delighted at the lengths they've gone to to keep us informed. They've called me at nap time everyday to give me an update, for example. And answered my other calls during the day....I was very nervous leaving my babies at care for the first time.

Best wishes

#6 WinterIsComing

Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:38 PM

Oh I can imagine how you feel. My DS is similar age to yours and also will be attending a brand new centre.

What I can say about administration is that they don't necessarily match the centre reputation. Ie I was communicating with a lady looking after waitlists for a very popular day care in a very frustrating way, but when I visited the campus, it seemed to be run as a tight ship.

THe sex abuse allegations would scare the heck out of me though. THAT I would be concerned about, not the payments, which are often outsourced.

#7 Molokai

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:07 AM

Thanks for your advice. I went in to see the center manager (let's call her "K") and told her all of my concerns. K was very sympathetic and had an explanation (and apology) for everything. It turns out the accounts section has hired new people who are still getting up to speed (annoying but understandable), the office is sometimes unmanned as K is currently floating between rooms while they work out their staff quotas. K said they are speaking to head office to get this fixed as a few parents have complained about not being able to reach her. Apparently head office don't think a full-time office person is needed (?!) and its ok for K to float around between rooms. K asked me to forward my complaint so that she has backup from parents to change this. K has just been 'promoted' to center manager, she was previously a carer in the preschool room. That explained a lot to me, as I'd assumed (wrongly) that the manager would have a business background. So I can't expect the office to be run like the kind of offices I'm accustomed to.

I mentioned the sexual assault allegations I'd read online and K said she knew nothing about it. I told her that the article states the director denies that it was their center, and that if this is indeed true, and not their center, then surely they would want to do something about it (sue the newspaper perhaps) as their name and logo is all over this article. I also suggested that if it was their center, then perhaps a statement on the website about what happened and how they are preventing future occurrences (as much as possible) would put parents' minds at ease. She said she'd google it and then talk to the director. I can't understand how a business would not want to clear their name either way? I also told her I thought the website was rubbish (I said it nicely!) and she said several parents have said the same, and they are going to overhaul it.

So she did put my mind at rest about most things. I mean, its not great that the accounts department are new and slightly disorganised, and the office isn't staffed properly, but I'm far happier she admitted these things than to tell me that it's normal and I have to live with it, if that makes sense.

QUOTE (jobo77 @ 30/01/2013, 06:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would try and see or speak to the Director directly and tell her your reservations about starting there. If you do decide to stay with them, keep a close eye on all your statements and if you can afford to, have the CCR paid directly to you rather than the centre so that way you don't have to keep on top of that too with their invoices. And set up a separate bank account for childcare if direct deposit is the only way the centre will take payment so that way they can't take more than what you have been invoiced for (learnt that the hard way recently!)  original.gif

Hi Jobo, they already took more than they should have (ie they took the money two weeks early) so there was nothing in my account and it was overdrawn, resulting in an overdrawn fee for me from my bank. Also I was thinking it would be easier to have CCR paid to the center to lower my fees - we can afford to pay up front, but time value of money etc, I'd rather pay the lower amount. Is it harder to work out that way? I'm thinking if its the same every invoice then I shouldn't have to worry.



#8 bokchok

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

its the same often by our centre but I know them well and know its because the director is always out and about on the floor etc and when doing office stuff as you imagine there are probably many things they manage such us parent emails, orders, invoicing etc so its probably more about not getting to it all = I rather ask for a time to meet in person and discuss queries if important but it shouldn't affect the care of your DS

#9 laridae

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:36 AM

They probably took the money early because you need to pay 2 weeks in advance?  (its not uncommon to anyway)

I get the CCR paid directly to the centre.  Normally it works out ok and I pay 1/2 the fee - but sometimes (depends on whether they process the CCR first - or the fees), I will pay the full fee one week and none the next.  It all works out right in the end though.

#10 Molokai

Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

QUOTE (laridae @ 05/02/2013, 12:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
They probably took the money early because you need to pay 2 weeks in advance?  (its not uncommon to anyway)

I get the CCR paid directly to the centre.  Normally it works out ok and I pay 1/2 the fee - but sometimes (depends on whether they process the CCR first - or the fees), I will pay the full fee one week and none the next.  It all works out right in the end though.

They took it out four weeks in advance - its supposed to be two, hence the stuff up and me having no money in my account.

Hopefully the CCR works out well.

#11 SeaPrincess

Posted 05 February 2013 - 02:18 PM

I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to contact them every minute - hopefully it means they're busy with the children.

However, I just pulled DD out of a centre because after 6 months, they still weren't able to debit my account regularly for a specified amount - it ranged from $50 (not even a full day's fees) to 5 weeks in one go. They flat out refused twice to take me off the direct debit scheme, so the 3rd time, I went in with cash and told them DD wouldn't be returning (paid out my notice).  Interestingly, they always had it balanced in time for quarterly CCR.

The new centre debits my account weekly for a week's fees, keeping us always 1 week in advance.




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