Frances’ story about taking a parent to court:
Everything went well for the first six weeks. Then I completed my local authority’s audit forms for the funded children, and this threw up the fact that this child was already in receipt of funding from a nursery more local to the family. Through my registers and contracts, I had to prove that the child had been with me and that the child’s parents had been claiming the 15 hours free funding from two different settings! So, to cut a long story short, I was not paid for the funded place that this child had been using for the six weeks.
The parent was sent letters and bills from me and the council detailing what had happened and that they now owed money for the weeks that the child had been with me. By now the child had left, with no letter of resignation. I sent all correspondence with the parent by registered post.
The parent had fourteen days to pay the bill. Another letter was sent after fourteen days to then say that if they had not paid within seven days a claim would be made through the small claims court to recoup money.
No money was paid, but a letter came back from the parent giving a sob story. However, this did not sway me at all!
I found all the relevant forms and guidance that I would need, downloadable from the county court web site.
I had to send in all the original paperwork, so I made sure to keep copies of everything. I had to work out all costs involved, for example, fees, postage, interest, fuel and parking.
I must admit I was very apprehensive about the actual court appearance. In the end it was not a court with a judge and jury sitting there. I was able to take another person in with me. We were ushered into a room which had a large table and chairs. The judge was a lovely lady. The parent did not turn up. The judge just went through all the paperwork, she had looked at it previously, asked if I had anything else to add and then said that I was entitled to the money, £800 by now, so well worth the effort!
The court wrote to the family and explained how and when to pay. Suffice to say they paid the bill in the appointed time. The family then automatically get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against them.
Since then I have actually repeated the court process twice more for far less amounts and won all of my cases. One very happy childminder!
Contributed by Frances Lindley
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