Your childcare provider may ask you to pay a retainer fee (usually half of the normal rate) when a childcare place is being reserved for future use.
Will I get this money back?
The retainer fee is normally non-refundable and not a credit for future services.
My childcare provider has asked me to pay a deposit, is this different from a retainer fee?
A deposit is a one off payment made by parents to show their intention to take up a place. This money will usually be refunded by taking the amount off your first bill.
How will I know if I am paying a retainer fee or a deposit?
Your childcare provider will be able to advise you which one you are paying. Make sure this is recorded in the terms and conditions of your childcare contract to ensure there are no misunderstandings at a later date.
Can I use the childcare place during the retainer period?
The place must be available during the retainer period if required although adequate notice needs to be given. If you use the place in this time you will be charged at the full rate. A deposit does not allow the place to be used until the start date of your contract.
Will I be charged for the whole retainer period?
The fee may only be charged when the childcare is available eg not during the childcare provider's holiday.
What happens if the childcare place is not taken up?
If the childcare provider is not able to offer the place under the terms of the contract or varies the terms and conditions of the placement without your agreement, then the retainer fee or deposit should be returned to you in full. If you decide not to take up the place, then the childcare provider may keep the retainer fee or deposit.
Can I get any financial assistance with paying the deposit?
If you're a young parent claiming Care to Learn you will also be eligible for help with paying your deposit.
If you're a single parent returning to work after a period on benefits, you may qualify for an interest free budgeting loan to help you return to work.
If you don't qualify for any help you could speak to your childcare provider to see if they can offer any flexibility such as allowing you to pay your deposit in instalments as part of your monthly payments.