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Etobicoke daycare hikes late fees for parents who don't pick up kids on time

Last Updated Oct 4, 2017 at 6:26 pm EDT

If you’re more than an hour late picking up your child from an Etobicoke daycare you could face a $300 fine and a call from the Children’s Aid Society.

Park Lawn Preschool, a not-for-profit organization that runs three daycares in the Toronto area, notified parents this week it is changing its late fee structure to heavily punish tardiness.

According to a memo obtained by CityNews, parents will now be charged in increments starting at $10 for the first five minutes late, progressing to $150 after the first half hour and then $300 per child after 60 minutes — and a possible call to the Children’s Aid Society if no parents or emergency contacts can be reached.

Some parents believe the fines are too heavy-handed.

Anne-Marie Chronnell, who has two children attending Park Lawn Preschool in Etobicoke, says while she’d usually able to leave work at 4 p.m. to make the daycare’s closing hours of 6 p.m., she’s terrified something will come up resulting in huge late fees.

“Three-hundred dollars per child,” Chronnell said. “That just took the rug right out from underneath me. Who has $300 if … the TTC goes down, your car breaks down and suddenly you cannot … pickup your child, and (in my case) two children?”

No one from Park Lawn Preschool would comment. However, a source from the daycare tells CityNews that tardiness had become such a chronic problem at the daycare with staff at times having to stay until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. They say the industry standard of one dollar per minute late was not enough to deter parents from showing up late.

Chronnell says she wishes there was a three-strike system for parents who are normally on time to pick up their children.

“Are you going to take food off the table just to be able to pay for that,” she asked. “That’s rent. That’s food.”

Kim Shiffman, managing editor with Today’s Parent, says the rush to make it to a daycare by its 6 p.m. closing time is a daily struggle for many parents. However, many have come to expect late fees if the worst happens.

“The standard would normally be one dollar per minute,” Shiffman said. “Some daycare centres would actually not charge anything for a daycare late fee, however they will ask you to be more conscientious, or if it happens a lot, they could actually withdraw you from the program.”

The City of Toronto’s own late policy does not include any fees. Staff just stay late and the city is forced to absorb the costs associated with overtime.