It is not common for ECE services to charge parents a bond, but this is a practice that may catch on in the future which is why it is mentioned here.
Services that ask parents for a bond usually require payment before allowing a child to start.
This is like signing up to a tenancy agreement except that the bond money does not go to an independent body to arbitrate any claim for damages to property or for breaking the agreement.
The bond amount that some ECE services charge is equivalent to half a term’s fee or more.
The bond is refunded by the ECE service at its discretion when a child leaves. If parents forget to ask for a bond refund when children are moving on, it is possible for the ECE service to overlook repayment.
Advice to parents
Question the reason for a bond and consider if you are still happy to pay a bond.
If the reason is to cover the cost of any damage that your child may do to toys or property then this indicates possible failings in staff supervision of children and teaching practices. Note that ordinary wear and tear and breakages is to be expected in an early childhood education service and no child or parent should be penalised through a bond system.
If the reason is to cover any fees unpaid and the bond is not refundable, then take this into account when leaving the service and don’t pay the equivalent of the bond in fees owing.
Another reason for asking for a bond is that the service may require parents to give a certain number of weeks or a terms notice before leaving. Parents are told that the bond is forfeited if they do not give the required notice of intention to leave. Such a condition indicates that a service is struggling to replace children when they leave and therefore it may not be a good service or a service that may still exist in a year or two. Alternatively, if places are filled quickly when children leave and so funding continues to flow into the service then ethically the service should refund the bond.