BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Contracts & Deposits for Schools & Preschools
Berkeley Parents Network >
School & Preschool >
Contracts & Deposits for Schools & Preschools
Hi there! I have a 20-month old and would like to put her in a pre-school
for a few days a week. I started looking at pre-schools and noticed that
most applications required a deposit. Are parents really expected to send a
check in with each application? I assumed I will apply to several schools
but only get into 1, if that even, since I understand space is limited.
However, I don't want to send a check along with each application. That
doesn't make sense. Thanks for any feedback.
clueless about preschool!
It's easier than you think. Most likely your child will be accepted into all or
most of the schools to which you apply. Really. And yes, you do have to pay an
application fee for every single application, so that's why you should only apply to
2-4 schools. Don't start stressing out now--it really is easier than you think.
Seasoned mom to 3
this was a pet peeve of mine when looking for preschool for my son. Unfortunately as
the mother of a toddler I didn't have the time to fight the system but I think that
it is a highly suspect business practice. I understand taking a fee if they actually
do something with your application which could result in you being admitted but many
of them put you on a wait list that you have no realistic chance of ever getting in
to the school from. I did only apply to about 3 schools and when I applied I did
ask the question if my child had a decent shot at getting and did not apply if they
did not. With one school who's answering system said they did not return calls but
to send in the application I sent it in accompanied by a letter that if my child did
not have a shot at getting to please return my application and check. They returned
my check to me! So don't be afraid to ask.
PS now that my kids are a little older I do have some time to deal with this stuff
so if you want some help trying to fight this suspect practice I could.
Application fees defray the costs of talking to, mailing, and
tracking prospective students every year during the enrollment season.
This includes paying the people who answer
your phone calls, take you on a tour of the site, mail you information
about the school, keep you on the list of prospective parents, schedule
decisions about enrollment, and notify you about the outcome. Even a parent participation
preschool, where parents volunteer for many of these activities, has costs
around recruiting and enrollment -- printing and advertising costs, staffing
the school for tours and information nights, providing refreshments
for visiting parents, etc.
The application fee not only covers some of these
costs, but it also helps to limit the number of applications, since
who are seriously interested enough in the school will pay the fee.
If there were no application fee, the
more popular schools would have hundreds of applications to sift through.
I think it is reasonable to pay an application fee. Just udentify the
3 or 4 schools that you are really interested in.
I had planned to return to work after my maternity leave in
mid-August, and found a wonderful family day care for my son. We gave
a deposit (one month's tuition) and signed a contract back in early
May. Wouldn't you know it, early August rolls around and I get a call
from my boss telling me I have no job to return to. This was 2 weeks
before my son was to start childcare. Given the economy, and job
prospects in my industry in particular, I know it could be several
months before I can find another position. My husband and I decided
that we needed to cancel childcare - we just can't afford it until I
actually have some income -- which I did the next day.
The provider was very understanding on the phone, and suggested I call
back when I find a job; if she has openings at that time, she would be
happy to take my son. During the conversation, I did not ask for my
deposit back. My thinking at the time was that the deposit held our
spot, and it wasn't really fair for her to now have to scramble to
fill it with so little notice. But, when I described the situation to
several people, they were surprised she did not offer to return it.
I am sympathetic to the provider's situation; but, of course, we could
really use the money back. My husband even suggested using a month's
worth of care anyway, since we essentially paid for it, but I think
that's unnecessarily disruptive to our son. Plus its probably too
late for that now. I'm thinking about calling in a few weeks to see
if she has filled the spot, and if so, asking if she would consider
returning some or all of our deposit. (I don't think she has any way
of contacting us, as I still have all of the forms, including the
signed contract. I was to return them to her 1-2 weeks before our son
started care.) Would this be out of line? Has anyone else been in a
similar situation? How did you handle it? Thanks in advance for your
We were in a similar position after our son was born and we
didn't asl for the deposit back. I know from the contract we
wouldn't have gotten it back anyway. check your contract...
but i have to say i also didn't think it would be fair to ask
for it. she has held a spot for your child and passed on other
potential candidates..that's why there is a deposit..to protect
her in case of cancelation. Yes it's hard, ours was 1 months as
well but it's faire. i am sure some will respond that when you
lost your job you didn't get a months salary. However, you also
didn't refuse other jobs to keep that one..so it's different.
And if you want to use her when you go back to work, then leave
her the money...she might give you credit for it at some point.
You have my sympathies for your situation. I'm not sure about
the legalities of getting your deposit back (is the
word ''nonrefundable'' anywhere on your contract?), but here's
another possibility to consider. Your husband suggested going
ahead and using the full month of childcare since it was paid
for, but you feel that would be hard on your son. I'm assuiming
the slot was for FT care? What about instead negotiating
something with the care provider where she watches your son for
a few hours a week, say 2-3 mornings for 2 months, to
approximate the amount of tuition you have already paid? She
may well have more open slots than she anticipated given the
economy - it is certainly happening at my kids' daycare. And
you could suggest that you might be opening to continuing the
arrangment in some form after the initial period is up - so
that she does not see it as JUST a favor she is giving you.
The reason I am suggesting this is that if your husband is
still working FT, and you are actively looking for a job, you
are going to HAVE to have some childcare for your job search.
You can't bring the baby to interviews, networking lunches,
etc! Plus you might welcome a few hours of break each week to
run errands when there are no interviews. Could be a solution
that could work out for both of you. But you should call her
soon, before your deposit gets absorbed into her finances and
Fellow job-hunting mom
I just went through 5 months unemployed. You will need childcare
sometimes to do a job search, go to interviews and generally get
your head together. I would use the 1 month if you can. Since
you will need to get your kid into childcare when you are working
again it may be a great way to get him or her slowly acclimated
to the place. Good luck!
This economy is difficult for many daycare providers as well.
Perhaps you noticed that there have been more than 25 providers
with openings for each of the last 3 weeks.
Your deposit meant that you had the security of knowing that your
child was set for a wonderful care situation AND your provider
possibly turned away families looking for care.
It may be weeks if not months before your provider fills your
space with an appropriate child, taking into account age and
gender balance. And if she does fill the space quicker, it might
be for fewer hours and therefore less income over a long time.
She has kept her part of your agreement and you are the one
And she probably needs that $500 more than you do.
All that being said, you could politely ask if a refund or
partial refund is possible, but I believe that she is within her
rights to make that decision herself.
Perhaps you have a case against your previous employer.
a provider who has been there ...
Has anyone experienced the termination of child care after two days?
Our child day care terminated our contract after only two days of
service. We had paid a deposit of $650.00 at the time of the
signing of the contract and another $650.00 on the first day of
day care for service to be rendered for the next two weeks. Upon
the termination of our contract, the owner stated that she will
not refund any of the amount, $1300.00. Is this possible?
The termination reason, given by the day care, was that we were
being difficult. We dropped our 6 month old baby off at 08:30 am
with a scheduled pick up at 11:30 am. The owner was agitated by
the 11:30 pick-up time. She stated that 11:30 am is nap time for
the children at the center. However, the contract stated that
nap time is between the hour of 12:00 pm and 02:30 pm. At pick
up, the owner stated that "she can no longer take care of our
baby" because we do not follow the rule. What rule are we not
Is it fair for a day care to terminate any time for any reason
and keep all the money? Is this a general policy with all the
Your post sounds like it was an unfair situation, but I'd want a
information before passing judgment on this one.
Most importantly, what does your contract actually say about
relationship? Did the daycare provider say that you couldn't return
to the daycare
ever again or just that you could finish out the time that you paid
for and not
(that's what deposits and contracts are there for, and why there are
parties)? Deposits aren't a guarantee that you'll be able to stay
just there as securities for you to have a guaranteed spot for when
you want to
service. And if either of you decide to call it quits, you have time
to find a
replacement. If they say you can't even finish out the time that you
they are probably breaching their contract. But if you just don't
want to show up
again even if you're allowed to, you should accept the money loss.
As for the situation, It does seem odd that you had a scheduled
pick-up at 11:30
two times in a row, yet that was nap time for some of the kids. I
the daycare owner wouldn't have let you pick up the child early if it
a new daycare with not many clients (perhaps a warning flag for the
next time you
put your deposit down somewhere)? Or was there just a
instance, were you actually trying to be respectful of the other kids
when you came
by? (sometimes kids just nap early some days, a fact of life) Maybe
you could work
out an agreement that would be less disruptive of the other kids if
you really need
to do an early pick-up (like having the child's things ready, and the
to you instead of you coming in). Did you try contacting the owner
again, now that
you aren't in the ''heat of the moment'' when you had the bad
interaction? If the
daycare is actually good in many ways (location, price, kids' and
satisfaction, etc.), it's probably worth trying to work it out. You
yourself in the foot terminating something that could be good for your
long run, even though there are problems at the start.
This sounds like a scam to me. Even if she had a legitimate
complaint about your behavior, which doesn't sound like the case,
at the very least she would refund your deposit - if she were on
the up and up.
Since you have a contract, I would contact her by certified letter
telling her that if she does not return the deposit and, at a
minimum, half of the amount you paid for the two weeks of service,
she will be hearing from your attorney next.
My guess is that they got an offer for a 'full-time' child and
want to unload the 'part-time' child...Get your money back and
get your child a new situation.
You should carefully read the contract you signed. If the
daycare is uncomfortable with your pick-up time b/c of naps, yet
the contract states a different naptime period, I think you have
a leg to stand on and could fight for your deposit via small
claims (an easy process, but a bit time consuming, as in, you
have to do your part of the paperwork and show up to court). If
you win small claims you still have collect, another arduous
process, but it can work if you're willing to fight them.
I actually encourage you to take them to small claims court;
they should be much more willing to work with someone only two
days into the contract, and yet they obviously were not. Though
of course I'm hearing only your side of the conflict, and maybe
you were being difficult (doesn't sound so, however), they
should at least be reasonable enough after only TWO DAYS to give
you back most of your money.
I say take 'em to small claims. I wonder if this daycare is
doing anything like this to others in order to make extra $$?
Sounds almost like a scam.. I mean, two days...
Your baby wouldn't be in good hands there anyway, and you might
win the small claims case. At least they might learn a little
(expensive) lesson. Small claims can garner you three times the
complaint amount. Then you'll have to collect, but you can do
that, too, via the courts (i.e. garnish their bank account). It
takes time, but it can be done.
-- tired of being ripped off!
This is crazy. They can only keep the money if YOU pull out. They
can't take your money and deny you the service as well. They are
in breach of the contract.
I'm sorry to hear about your issues with the day care. It
actually sounds like a legal situation. You may want to consult a
lawyer to find out exactly what your rights are and what you are
entitled to. I've used a law firm that will do consultations and
even write a letter on your behalf if needed regarding such
matters without breaking your wallet. Then you could at least
know where you stand. Feel free to email me if you'd like their
Best of luck,
Please call Community Care Licensing and file a complaint against this
You have a legal right to drop in any time unannounced to visit or
pick up your
child. If the Center doesn't return your deposit/fees I would take
them to small
Our son got kicked out of daycare for not taking a bottle. We
didn't think it would be an issue since he was over 6 months and
eating solids and he was only there 3-4 hours/day, but they got
annoyed after trying for a couple of months and kicked him out.
We got a month's warning that they were going to do it and they
didn't keep any extra money. I would be LIVID if our DCP did to
us what yours did to you. It can't possibly be legal, can it?
Can't believe your DCP
I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through with the
day care. Unfortunately, I don't have any legal advice for
you, but you may want to see it either through your work, or
through other venues (I heard there's a low-cost legal advice
available in Berkeley, something like ''We are the people.'') It
doesn't sound right that they can just keep your money even
though they didn't provide any service to you.
As for the first hand ''bad'' daycare experience, our first day
care - a San Francisco center called ''C5'' (Civic Center Child
Corporation)had several incidents were famililes were expelled
from daycare with little or no investigation, largely on a
whim. It almost happened to us (I am not going into detail,
but it was not a pleasant experience), but we eneded up being
able to stay there and then left as soon as we could. The day
care is impossible to find on a short notice, so there should
be a provision to at least allow families find another provider
before they have to leave.
I hope you can recover your money and find another (good!)
child care provider quickly.
If I were you, I would get out that contract that you signed
ASAP and see if there are any things in there that preclude you
from demanding a refund for services NOT rendered. If she only
cared for your child for two days, then she should be required
to refund the other 12 days worth of pay. The deposit may not
be refundable based on what the contract says. I'd however, be
fighting for all of the money back (less the two days of care
provided). Its seems she made no attempt to remedy any problem
that she thought was occuring and instead of talking to you
about it, just decided to take your money and run. I'd fight.
Get Your Money Back!
First off, thank your lucky stars that the contract has been
terminated. I would sooner chew my leg off than have my kid at
a daycare with such insane rules and ways of dealing with
That said, read your contract. There is probably a very
explicit clause about terminating the arrangement, repayment of
deposit, etc. It seems highly unlikely that ''being difficult''
is listed under reasons for termination.
I have never heard of a daycare center showing unwillingness to
allow the parents of an infant to come by at any time to check
on or pick up their child. Moms at my sons' infant center used
to drop in throughout the day to nurse their kids! Makes me
suspicious - as though they didn't want you being there at that
particular time? Maybe it's time to check with the liscensing
board or get some specific info about the particular center?
Is this a licensed daycare? They are required by state law to
inform parents that parents can drop in ANY time. Whether it's
nap time is irrelevant. If she is making a fuss because you
dropped in at a time she didn't want you to, this is a violation
of state regulations and you should report her. If she is NOT
licensed, you should report her because she can be fined up to
$200 a day. Google California Community Care Licensing.
I had a similar experience not too long ago (terminated after 3
days). It was such a bizarre situation that I am still confused
at the whole thing and found no real options to get back my
deposit other than small claims court. I did call the licensing
board and was told she broke no laws. It was just so upsetting
on so many levels that I let it drop. I walked away feeling
like I learned a hard but valuable lesson on how to find the
best care for my child. Looking back, I knew in my gut that it
wasn't right when I signed up. I should have gone with the
feeling and will never dismiss it again.
I would be interested to know if we may have had the same
daycare provider. If you would like to talk offline, shoot me
We are taking our child out of a pre-school because we do not
feel like it is the right place for any of us. Aside from
keeping $1,500 in deposits, they are requiring us to pay more,
we do not know how much yet but perhaps several thousands more
because we had signed a contract. They are threatening us with
engaging a collection agency even though none of the money is
for care actually provided. Is there anyone who has gone
through this, know what to do? We are not rich but we shouldn’t
be bound to send our little one to a place we no longer feel
happy in. Please comment.
stressed out parents
I understand your desire to find a good placement for your
child that fits with your philosophy and standards. This is,
in part, why these contracts exist. So that parents will not
capriciously sign their kids up for a program taking spots away
from families who are more committed.
Now that you have made that commitment (and potentially another
family was turned away on your behalf) you absolutely owe it to
the school to pay for the spot until it is filled.
I would also re-think your last statement - You essentially
said ''I don't think we should be bound to honor our commitments
just because we signed a contract''
We are in a serious bind and need some advice. I am hoping that
someone out there has been in a similar situation and can offer some
words of wisdom.
Both of my kids attend a fabulous Montessori school - I'll call it the
Turquoise school (has nothing to do with anything, but I need a good
code name). Because we live in a part of Oakland where the schools
are sketchy, we decided to send our oldest child (who I will call
Aloe) to Turquoise for Kindergarten. Well, after we had already
signed a contract with Turquoise for this next year, several things
changed for us and for Aloe. I won't get into the details here, but
the changes were big enough to make us rethink our plan.
We thought and talked about it for a long time, and finally decided to
apply (late) to a private school. We didn't give official notice at
Turquoise, but they unofficially knew about our intentions. It turns
out that Aloe was accepted at the private school a couple of weeks
ago. However, now the Turquoise school will not let us out of our
contract for this year. Apparently there are several spaces open for
next year, and until they fill all of them (including Aloe's), we are
obligated to pay them tuition, even though Aloe will not be attending
So, now we are looking at double tuition for an indefinite number of
months - maybe even a full school year.
Obviously, we signed a contract and the Turquoise school has a
business to run. We are not looking to weasel out of anything - just
looking for some kind of win/win solution. Is there one? If anyone
has any advice, we would love to hear it!
Sticky School Situation
Why don't you try recruiting students for the school? I felt
guilty about moving my younger daughter to another school in the
Fall. I loved her preschool teacher and the environment, but was
sick of driving in two different directions every morning, being
expected to be in two places at the same time, etc. I wanted
both of my girls going to the same place. So, I put an e-mail
out to my Mom's Club list. The teacher was able to fill her last
remaining spots (two in each class) within a week AND start a
I am assuming it is a common problem: You aren't sure of
getting into a good public, so you choose a private school that
accepts you, you make a promise to have your child attend, and
you pay a deposit. Then, if you get lucky enough to get into a
public you feel good about, you have to renege on your
agreement with the private school. I am sure the privates must
be all-too-familiar with this scenario. How do you ethically
and logistically navigate around this problem? Obviously, you
lose your deposit, which makes sense, but can they hold you
captive for more than the deposit? I believe many privates
require you to sign a vow, essentially, that you commit to
paying for the entire year. How do people handle this delicate
situation? I would like to hear people's experiences. Perhaps
certain schools are more laid-back than others. I heard through
the mill that someone just had to pay for their kid's entire
school year tuition, even though their child got into a public
in the first month or so of the school year.
Pray tell. Thanks.
My Daughter went to private schools and my experience was that I
had to sign a contract stating that I was responsible for the
entire years payments. I also found that unlike preschool where
you make a deposit when accepted and then make monthly payments
after they start in the fall. In private schools you start
making the monthly payments in the spring/summer(May I think),
so by the time school starts you have paid for a large chunk
Private schools are very clear about the timeline and financial
penalties for making a commitment. The closer you get to the
beginning of the school year, the greater the payment. This is
purely a business proposition for the private school (and I don't
mean that in a bad way, it's just reality). The school has X
number of spaces in kindergarten to fill, which will bring in Y
tuition dollars. If you tell them that your child is enrolling
in September, then the school holds that place for her and turns
down other students. If, later on, you decide not to enroll,
then the school has to spend time and resources to fill that
space, or else forgo the tuition. The reason for not enrolling
your child -- whether it is to go to public school, move to a new
city, or a change of mind -- doesn't make a difference.
If you think you might want to hold a space that you might forgo
if you get into the public school you want, you should make sure
you are aware of the deadlines for deposits and tuition.
When you accept a place at a private school, you are signing a
contract. As with any other contract you sign, you should be
prepared to honor its terms and perform your side of the
bargain. How would you like it if you did NOT get into a ''good
public'' but the private school then said, ''Gee, we've changed
our mind about your child?'' That said, some schools are
reportedly more relaxed than others -- mainly because they have
a sizeable waiting list and have no problem filling the place.
In that case, it would be improper for them to require payment
for something that they were then ''selling'' to someone else.
That is, they would have no damages from your departure. From
your post, it sounds as though the people who had to pay the
full year's tuition had used the private school for a month.
Might have hard for the school to find a replacement at that
point. Read the contract(s) carefully; some offer tuition
insurance in case you want/need to pull out. There are also
private tuition insurance companies that you can use for your
Here's your cautionary tale from the school's perspective: they
gave a spot to this child, and they may well have turned away
another applicant to do so. After the school year had already
started, they were informed that the child would not be attending
after all. At that point they had very little chance of finding
another child for that spot, but they had already made all their
staffing decisions for the year and were locked into those costs.
The rent and the teachers' salaries remain the same whether or
not that child is in the classroom. So while I'm sure it was an
unpleasant situation for that family, from the school's
perspective it's pretty understandable. Most private schools are
nonprofits, I should add.
Different schools have different policies about parents'
liability beyond the deposit, so my advice is to read any
contract very carefully before you sign it and assume that you
will be held to the terms. You can always plead your case with
the school, of course, but if you think you may need to be
released from the contract then your safest bet is to purchase
tuition insurance. (I know, it seems silly, like health insurance
for your pet or something, but it's one way to ensure that
neither you nor the school takes too much of a hit financially.)
Private school administrator
My son has attended a preschool affiliated with a synagogue for
nine months. When we were initially offered the spot, we were
offered an employee discount because my husband does periodic
work for the synagogue. This discount continued throughout the
summer and the first month of the current school year. Come
October, we received a bill charging a higher tuition rate.
Attached was an unapologetic memo stating that employees are now
defined as those who work at least 20 hours a week for the
organization. We met with the preschool director as well as the
board president and basically all we got was ''this is the new
policy.'' We don't feel that this is reason to take our son out
of a great preschool but we definitely feel disrespected.
Especially because we're more involved than most parents there.
Should we drop it and pay up or go another route?
Feeling stepped on
''disrespected?'' Why would you feel that someone wasn't giving
you respect because you no longer get a special deal?
Usually in these situations there has been a big fight and the
board has had to meet and argue it out. It's not as though all
of these people met in a room and said ''I know, let's insult so
and so'' (that's what ''disrespect'' means, by the way. If someone
has no respect for you and acts in that way, they are insulting you.)
It sounds to me as though you're mad that you'll have to pay full
price and you're trying to personalize it. Preschools are expensive.
Perhaps, instead of nursing hurt feelings, you can proactively go
to the director and volunteer to give them five hours of ''free''
time per month for a reduced rate. That is a BUSINESS approach,
rather than a ''personalized hurt feelings'' approach and would
probably be the best thing to try.
That doesn't really seem unfair to me. I'd pay up and move on.
Consider it a donation if it makes you feel better. And if you
still feel like you need to do something, you could mention to
them that you would have felt better about it if they'd given you
a month or two notice about their change in policy, rather than
just a note with a higher bill. Just so that other people that
could have a similar issue with in the future would feel better
about. But this would be sort of a scolding, even if you said it
nicely, so it probably depends on what your relationship is w/
them and whether you think it would make a difference. It is, of
course, completely within their right to change their policy on
discount tuitions, and you might need to recognize that. (and of
course, it's within your right for your husband to limit how much
work he does around the synagogue, but that may be a separate issue).
Sounds like you felt hurt that this organization didn't let you
know about the change in policy sooner and in a nicer way. I
can imagine that you feel bad about that but I think you should
separate your feelings from your decision about your child's
preschool. If you are happy with the school and he is happy
there, why take him out because of something that has nothing
to do with him? As to your hurt feelings - well, it doesn't
sound like the new policy is unfair (in fact it sounds very
generous) so maybe you can think about it as ''we were so lucky
to have been given a discount all that time''. That's how it
sounded to me.
- eastbay mom
I would attempt to negotiate continuing at your current rate for
at least the remainder of the year. Unfortunately these things
do happen, and if they cannot accomodate you, don't take it
personally. If you do indeed like the school and think it is a
great fit for your child, sometimes that's just how life is.
Stay and pay the price. I would. Let it go.
I had plans to enroll my 18-month-old in a Montessori program
while continuing with my education. I had to pay a $75.00
application fee, as well as fork over a full month's tuition that
''was to be applied to your child's first month of tuition''. This
$630.00 ''deposit'' was non-refundable. I was only slightly
hesitant to do this because I had every intention of going to
school Well, SURPRISE, I became pregnant. This has derailed my
school plans slightly because the new baby is due in August. Not
only will I not be able to attend school that fall as my baby
will be too young, but as I can only transfer to my intended
school in the fall, this leaves me with an extra semester empty.
Because the children will be so close in age, I decided that the
best time for my 18-month-old to take off would be this semester.
I can devote exclusive time to her, and it will do my health good
as the stress of finals would come up at the very end of
pregnancy. Well, I wrote all of this with sincere apologies to
the director of the Montessori school. I asked that if she could
not refund the deposit, if my daughter could attend for the
month. This would be really helpful to our family as I had nnot
been able to attend my first prenatal appointment because I have
NO ONE to care for my daughter. Plus, I don't like to pay $630
for absolutely NOTHING.
After a week of waiting for the director's reponse, I was
admonished for waiting this long to reply to her as they had been
expecting my child. However, I had sent a previous e-mail about
my daughter's start date and never received a reply from her. The
director went on to say that not only would the deposit not be
refunded, but they would not allow my daughter to attend school
only for the month. The only alternative she gave was for me to
enroll my child in school either this semester or for the summer
session. Otherwise, the deposit is forfeited. I must add that I
need to find a program that accepts BOTH of my children as this
Montessori program doesn't accept infants, so it would be a waste
for my child to attend this school now.
Can anyone advise me on organizations I can contact to either
get my deposit back or get services for this large sum of money?
I suggest you look over the contract and determine if you breeched the
contract. Depending on how it is worded you might not be entitled to a
refund. Even if you are not entitled, I would recommend meeting with the
School Director face to face and discussing your situation. As a
gesture of good will, will they refund your money or allow your daughter
to attend school for that month? Ask again, ask in person. If not, I
suggest contacting the better business bureau and the childcare referral
program and inform them about your experience and see if they have any
suggestions or advise on how to have your money returned to you. You
could also sue in small claims court if you feel you are entitled to the
money. Good Luck!
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. But I think you should just let
it go and focus on staying relaxed during this pregnancy. Typically when
paying a non-refundable deposit you sign something saying that you
understand that it is non-refundable, and it seems that you did
understand and probably signed a document agreeing to this. That is a
You didn't pay $630 for ''nothing'', you paid it to hold a spot for your
child. The school relied on this and did hold a spot for your child.
The school would argue that they provided a valuable service to you by
holding the spot, to their own detriment. Just chalk it up as an
expense of having a child. You're going to be spending a lot more just
on diapers. My advice would be to move on and let it go. Congratulations
and good luck with your pregnancy!
Our child is three and we are thinking about sending her to a
preschool in Oakland, but are unsure because they are asking for
a deposit of 3 months tuition with the annual contract. And we
can't use those 3 months of tuition until the end of the school
year if we decide not to renew the contract for the next year.
Most of the other preschools we looked at only asked for one
month's tuition as a deposit, and then that deposit is applied
to the final month of tuition for the contract year.
Unfortunately, they are already full. I'm interested in
feedback on this--other parents' experiences, and whether any
particular preschool is worth that kind of investment.
I have never heard of a preschool requiring more than one
month's deposit, even the so-called ''selective'' preschools.
Such a high deposit might make it hard to leave the school if it
turned out that it was not a good fit for your child.
I would refuse to pay it. Go to another school if necessary.
Such a high deposit sounds like an indication of greed on the
part of the preschool owner -- someone who would put money ahead
of your child.
There are many good preschools in this area.
I am pretty sure I know which school you're talking about. I
moved to Oakland fairly recently and wanted to start my 3 year
old around February (2004). They were the second place I called
and I was thrilled that they had an opening and that my search
had been so easy, but then I found out about the three month
deposit as well as other one-time fees, payable up front and not
prorated for starting mid-year, that add up to an additional
$800-900. I was also not happy about the policy where, if you
decide to terminate before the year is completed, you are still
responsible for the remainder of the school year and are only
released from it if they find a replacement child. I think part
of the problem for me (which may not be your situation at all) is
that the tuition and fees are geared for a full-time year-round
program - I was looking for a part-time ten month program
starting mid-year, and I felt penalized on every count by their
fee structure. I didn't find any other schools with these
requirements. So in spite of the fact that they have a very good
reputation and I liked what I saw, I couldn't justify the total
cost. To be honest, I couldn't help but feel that I was being
taken. I still agonized for a few weeks about enrolling my child
there, because of its reputation and its proximity to where I
live. I now drive my child 15 minutes one-way (more with
traffic) to school. There are obviously plenty of happy parents
whose kids go to the school you're considering, and I don't think
that preschools are rolling in dough, so I guess it just depends
on your situation.
My child attends a preschool which required a 3-month deposit
(probably the same place you were referring to). I think you
asked if it was worth it ... it certainly is a lot of money,
and I do think it would be reasonable for them to reduce the
amount and also to offer a trial period, both of these steps
would make them more in sync with other preschools. The money
itself wasn't a problem for us, but I was still pretty nervous
writing that check and making that kind of commitment. That
said, we are VERY happy at the school for many reasons. Also,
our previous school (which actually was more expensive overall)
required only a one-week deposit and 2 weeks notice to leave,
and I think this may have been a factor in higher turnover.
My family was supposed to move to Walnut Creek this summer and
so we had registered my twin sons at a local preschool to
start this fall. We paid a total of $912.00 for 2 deposits
($300-something each) and 2 $100 teacher retention fees. Last
April, our plans changed and I notified the school that we would
not be attending the school after all. The director said she
would get our money to us ASAP. It has now been four months and
numerous phone calls with different answers each time (The check
is in the mail, We'll get it out to you today....) and we have
yet to see any money. I know there is some portion that is non-
refundable, but ALL of it ($912.50!!!) seems excessive! My
husband finally spoke to the owner one day and she said
something about how they usually don't return the money but she
would get a check out to us anyway but we still haven't seen
anything. We are out of state and need the money but are
getting really frustrated. Has anyone else ever had this kind
of trouble with this school or any other school? How did you
get your money back? We thought it was a great school
but are really shocked at how this has been handled.
That sucks! Do you have anything in writing (e.g., the school's
brochure or other paperwork sent to you initially) that
references the school's refund policy? Regardless, I would send
them a written letter stating that you are expecting a refund
ASAP, as per your numerous former conversations (list the
dates, if possible). As a last resort, and especially, if you
have the paperwork outlining the refund policy, you can
reference that you regret that you will have to pursue the
matter in small claims court if they do not resolve this as
soon as possible (even if you can't actually do so, being out
of state, this phrase just might get them moving a little
faster!) Good luck.
I agree with someone else who said you should write a letter
asking for your deposit. Send it by certified mail with a return
receipt requested as proof and if you don't get it back within
the specified time, say 30 days, I would go to Small Claims
court, where, if you prevail, you will can get your filing costs
back, too. It's a hassle, but sometimes, it's the only thing that
will get their attention.
Try calling them everyday. Persistence pays. Call and ask if
the check has been sent, if they say it'll be in the mail
today...call tomorrow to verify it was sent. If you don't get
it in 2 days after they claimed to have sent it, call again. If
they have to check with someone and will call you back...call
them again-don't wait for them to call you. If no one answers,
leave lots of voicemails. Make notes of all your calls and
voicemails incase you need to write a letter later.
It's may not seem nice to do to a daycare...but they promised
you a refund and should live up to it. Best of luck.
It's been four months since we withdrew our toddler last September from a
preschool in Berkeley , but we still haven't got our deposit back (we gave one
month notice as required). We called the director many times and each time she
just gave excuses that their accountant was not in the office or was on
vacation. We had been waiting patiently for them to get back to us, but
nothing happened. So we eventually went to her office one week ago to talk to
her in person, thinking it might help solve the problem. But gosh, we were so
wrong. We ended up going to her office again this afternoon to confront her,
but she still gave us this same ''accountant leave of absence for today''
excuse. The whole situation has become so unbelievably frustrating and
ridiculous and we just cannot take it any longer. I would love some
suggestions as to what others have done in similar situation or advices as to
what actions we should take. Thanks very much!
It sounds as if you had a written agreement with the school
that outlines the procedure for getting your deposit back and
that you have followed those procedures, and then some, and
have been unsuccessful. If that's the case, it's relatively
simple to file a small claims court action and get a judgment
against the school.
You might try writing a letter first advising the school that
you plan to take this action. It might spur them into making
You obviously won't get your deposit back by asking nicely. I
would write a formal, simple letter demanding that she send you
a check within X days, and that if you do not receive it you
will sue her. Then if you don't get a check, follow through.
File a small claims action. (Keep a copy of the letter, of
You might also make a complaint to the childcare licensing
agency or some other appropriate authority, though I'm not sure
who that would be.
We are concerned about a provision in a preschool contract asks
you to agree to pay for the entire year with no provision for
withdrawal. We were just accepted. We'd like to be able to
withdraw our child if he is unhappy or if for some other reason
we can't attend. There is provision for the school to ask you
to leave if they want to. But no escape clause for the parents.
Is this common? What do parents do if their child is unhappy.
Can it be negotiated. If anyone has experience with this, I'd
appreciate hearing from you. Another school we considered had
tuition insurance, has anyone had experience with that.
I have been looking around at preschools and have never heard of
this arrangement. And if I had, I wouldn't do it. I would want to
be sure that my child was ok in the preschool. There are also
things that could come up 1, 2, 5, 6 months from now that I cannot
anticipate, and I would want to be able to make a change or pull
her out if I had to. That is a HUGE leap of faith and probably an
equally huge amount of money to be giving to a place that should
be working harder, if you ask me, to earn your trust and
commitment. Another thing is, if the preschool is fairly decent, I
would imagine that they would have a waiting list that they can
draw from in case you (or any other parent) pulls their kid out.
My daughter is about to start preschool, and I have only been
asked for the deposit, which was about $500 and will ''hold'' her
space for September. If we change our minds, I believe we lose
Seems unfair doesn't it? The pre-school has an out, but you
don't on the contract. We signed something similar with Hearts
Leap and I actually wrote in that we would give them 30 days
notice to cancel the contract in the event of a move, problems
or any circumstance not under our control(e.g. medical problem
etc.). We signed this contract with our written change on it.
Personally I thought it was extremely unfair, but my husband(an
attorney) said it was legally binding.
this page was last updated: Jul 14, 2012
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network