You provide daycare for children because you love them. And yet you feel sorry for people who can’t afford your services. How can you help them, you wonder. If you are considering becoming part of your state’s childcare resource service, read on.
And if you live in the state of Illinois, you might want to prepare yourself for what you will encounter by joining their service. Maybe my experience will help you decide.
Having never worked with the program, I had no idea what to expect, whom to call, or how to initiate the program. A couple came to me asking me if I would agree to accept payment from the program for providing care for their two children. I agreed – if somebody in the state office could explain to me what my role in the program would be.
ACCEPTING STATE PAID CLIENTS
In my first conversation with the state I asked not only how much I could expect to make, but also when I could expect to receive compensation (I had previously heard that the state was notoriously late in making payments). “In one month,” I was told.
“OK,” I began, “so if I start watching the children on the 8th of July, I can expect payment for that day by August 8th.”
“You have to wait until the end of the month to turn in your form.”
“So what you’re saying is that I won’t get paid until two months from now.”
“You’ll get paid in one month.”
“But if I start watching them on the 8th of July and I can’t turn the paperwork in until the end of the month, and it takes one month to process the paperwork, actually I’ll be waiting two months before I receive payment.”
“You’ll get paid in one month,” he repeated.
I didn’t get paid until the middle of September, and I would imagine that if I called him to tell him I didn’t get my payment until September, he would say something like, “See? One month.”
So heed your first warning: BEWARE OF HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE YOU TO GET PAID. Here is the second warning:
BEWARE OF CO-PAYS
During my initial inquiry with the state, I was told that I could expect to receive $21.60 per child over the age of 2 (full time), the current rate for Illinois State paid childcare. I was also told that if I charged more than that amount, I could ask my client for a co-pay. What the state failed to mention was that it had already figured out what that co-pay should be. What the family who hired me failed to mention was that the state’s co-pay was much higher than the one I agreed to accept from them. I had no idea what the state’s co-pay was – the state did not send the paperwork to me until after I agreed to accept the client.
If you agree to accept state paid clients say, find out BEFORE you assume responsibility for their children exactly what that co-payment will be. The reason? While you may be expecting to be paid $21.60 per day for each child, the state will deduct the co-payment from your check. If you don’t receive from the client that co-pay amount, you won’t receive it at all.
Translation: if you worked only 10 days during any one month for two children over the age of two, and you were expecting to receive $453.60, but the co-payment was $271.53, you will receive only $182.07 for those 10 days. And if your client bails out of his commitment to make the co-payment, you just made a whopping $1.82 per hour for the 100 hours you spent caring for BOTH of his children.
If the clients are asking you to accept state payment, they know what their co-payment will be. Get it in writing.
THE FINAL WARNING
If you provide service on the last day of the month, you are considered the provider for the entire month. Whoever provided service prior to you is deleted from the program for that family. Obviously, it works the other way as well – if you provide service for one month and the parents pull their children out of your daycare on the last day, the provider who watched the children on that last day will get paid for that month.
In terms of payment, that means that if you cared for your client’s children from September 1st through September 21st, and somebody else cared for them the final week of September, you will receive nothing. I assume this is the state’s way of keeping money that belongs to somebody else.
Not every state program is run the way Illinois runs its programs. Check with your individual state’s childcare resource service center – if these warnings did not dissuade you from deciding to accept state-paid clients.
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