Parents shocked at after-school care rate hike

Fees for YMCA programs at Mountain View Whisman schools jump by up to 111 percent

Editor's note: This story has updated information.

Maria Schexnayder didn't think much of it when the YMCA delayed registration for after-school daycare by a few weeks. When she finally got the registration packet, everything looked normal until she got to the price. Rates had jumped from $333 a month to $572 -- a 72 percent increase for three days a week.

"The biggest issue I've had with this fee increase is that there was no notice or heads-up that this was coming," Schexnayder said.

Hundreds of families across Mountain View who use the YMCA "Kids Place" after-school program, which works with Mountain View Whisman elementary schools to provide on-site daycare, were hit with a similar increase. The fewer the number of days per week a child is enrolled, the larger the fee increase.

But the price hike won't stick around for long. A YMCA official contacted the Voice Wednesday and said prices will be significantly reduced because of the outcry.

Dorothy Lin, a mother of two, uses the program two days a week. She saw her monthly fee increase from $223 to $471 -- a 111 percent increase over last year. She said the pricing structure also changed so that it's more expensive for anyone who isn't a YMCA member.

"It's such a convenient and great program, but at this rate I wonder if it's worth it," Lin said.

Another parent, J'lynn Lee, said she only needs the program on Thursdays, and two years ago there was a one-day per week option that was perfect for parents like her. The YMCA has since done away with the one-day option.

Lee said the steep, sudden increase puts parents like her in a difficult position. She said it's hard to find a reliable babysitter to drive and work for the 10 hours of day care they need each month, so the YMCA program is the only feasible option. But she said the cost increase is not something many families can afford right now.

"The cost of living here in Mountain View is already outrageous," Lee said. "Many families have both parents working outside the home to afford their homes."

Lee said many employers are unwilling to allow employees to leave work to pick up their kids.

Elizabeth Jordan, Chief Operations Officer at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, said they reviewed the new prices and on Wednesday decided to reduce it to a small, incremental increase from last year. Parents who sign up in two days a week will pay $290 instead of the original $471 price figure, and parents who sign up for three days a week will pay $399 instead of $530.

The YMCA will send a letter out to all parents who signed up for after-school care last year with the revised prices.

Jordan said when they originally reworked the prices for the coming school year, they had no idea it would affect parents so much. They became aware of the problem last week when a parent contacted the YMCA with concerns over the program new rates.

Part of the reason why the prices went up is because the program is essentially designed to be a five-day-a-week program. Jordan said when parents sign up for two or three days per week, their kids "take up a spot" for the entire week, even on days when they aren't present.

As a result, the fewer number of days per week, the bigger the fee hike for the coming school year. Parents who enroll their students in the program all five days of the week saw a nominal increase of about 6 percent -- significantly less than for students attending less often.

Of the roughly 650 families that participate in the program, about 100 to 150 of them sign up for either two or three days a week. Jordan said that means the YMCA of Silicon Valley has subsidized these families who participate for only part of the week, and with the newly revised prices will continue to subsidize them through next year.

Jordan said subsidizing these parents will cost an estimated $170,000 next year.

Lin said she received a response from the YMCA that said market research shows the new prices are the appropriate rates, and are comparable to what similar program charge. The response also stated that the program must pay for staffing and programming for five days per student, regardless of how many days per week parents sign up for.

But Jordan said the YMCA after-school program is not like other programs on the market. She said they're not looking to turn a profit, and do not set prices based on similar day care programs.

"We don't compare ourselves to other 'market prices.' We are a community-based not-for-profit," Jordan said.

The outrage and subsequent price changes may be a problem of communication. On one hand, parents felt there was little communication from YMCA regarding the price hike. On the other hand, Jordan said there was very little communication from parents that indicated the new prices were too high to handle.

"We just heard it through the grapevine and from (the Voice). We only recently had a parent come out and tell us other parents are upset," Jordan said. "It's challenging not knowing who to communicate to."

Jordan said in addition to the subsidies, there is financial assistance available for people who have trouble paying for the services. YMCA of Silicon Valley has awarded $236,000 in financial assistance through scholarships to Mountain View. She said the after-school program is more than just a daycare program, and includes a structured schedule with activities that support leadership development and team building.

The YMCA of Silicon Valley runs programs at over 50 licensed childcare sites in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Each site has anywhere from 20 to more than 80 children enrolled.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

"Parents who enroll their students in the program all five days of the week saw a nominal increase of about 6 percent"-- so, part time enrollees are being asked to pay something that reflects ACTUAL COST to run the program. The 5x/week families have no doubt been subsidizing the part-timers for years. The people complaining have absolutely no clue about the economics of running a child care facility. I sympathize, but the only option is to charge the full-time families more than what their service should cost.

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Posted by Idea
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Sunsidized? In these days of electronic programs to match this with that, how hard would it be to pair up a Monday/Wednesday kid with a Tuesday/Thursday kid and then split the full time rate between then? It seems like this is a question of balance. Are all of the part time kids wanting the same day? I can see there be some unevenness, but logically it should all balance out in the end. They just need to offer a restricted service where the days are specified as unavailable. Then they could handle twice the number of part time kids in the same number of slots as full time kids.

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Posted by Bubb Mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm

The issue is the minimum day, in the case of Bubb, school lets out at 11:55 Thursday - so there is an imbalance caused by the school schedule. The Y no longer allows a single Thursday, so parents are left to pick another day of the week to enroll at all. Remove the minimum day and you remove the imbalance.

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:49 pm

@idea-- yes, subsidize.

The after care programs have a pretty finite pool to draw from (and as Bubb Mom says, the minimum day schedules make things tough Im sure)-- a program like you suggest would not be feasible in a small population.

The Y is not running those centers for profit. Their new cost structure is certainly just a reflection of their operating results.

The cost of providing half time care is substantially more per day than providing full time care. That is just a fact

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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I get that they need to balance their budget, and in all fairness, it's still a somewhat reasonable and decent after school care option, but to not communicate with the families ahead of time is just presumptuous. "Jordan said when they reworked the prices for the coming school year, they had no idea it would affect parents so much." Really??

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Posted by MV Dad
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

MV Mom, I second that "Really??" and might I add...RRREALLY!?!?!

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Posted by MV/LA Dad
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:10 pm

This is going to be a PR disaster for Y because of what Jordan said. It's unimaginable that when a well-known non-profit was considering a price hike, they would completely bypass the families' input and ignore the financial data of their clients. They apparently only saw the sunny side of this region and rushed to align themselves with the like of JCC, strengthening the executives' standing in the eyes of the YMCA board along the way. We've heard different sets of responses from different Y branches to their parents - and they've yet to give any one solid and unified answer. The arguments have been completely weak, and the lack of leadership is painfully apparent. It's time to talk to YMCA's funders.

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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:11 pm

It couldn't possibly be true that they only learned of the problem from A PARENT and "through the grapevine". If there's anything parents are good at, it's voicing concerns that affect their children. I have personally spoken to at least half dozen moms whose children go to the Y after school program, and they have ALL reached out to the program director, both in Mountain View AND Los Altos. Someone is not telling the truth here...

By the way, for many years, the pricing for the same after school program in Los Altos is higher than the ones at MVWSD schools. I wonder why...

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Posted by Yes
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 12:08 am

Yes, having children is expensive. Especially when you choose to pay someone else to raise your kids for you. Don't complain when you are expected to pay the actual costs!

1 person likes this
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:15 am

To "Yes",

How exactly is the Y "raising your kids" when we are talking about 3 hrs of after school care? Not every family can afford to live on a single income. How judgmental of you to assume that these honest parents who are working hard to provide for a home for their children in a decent school district are "not raising their kids" and are therefore subject to unreasonable price hike.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 6:22 am

To MV Mom, don't worry about posters like Yes. There are many stay at home moms with a huge chip on their shoulder. Some feel the need to belittle others and proclaim all sorts of doom on kids who go to aftercare. It is a way of validating themselves when they are feeling "less than". Its very common. Utter nonsense, but very common

Like this comment
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

Part of the problem is the property taxes they pay.

We need to get rid of the Property tax once and for all and have a flat tax for both state and federal. That way more accountability would follow and the schools can charge less.

Like this comment
Posted by Another Y family
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Interesting. Jordan's comments were completely different from what we received from our program director.
Yes, here are the major factors of why we had to increase our prices:

-we had align all of our childcare sites within the Association of 12 branches to match the same pricing structure.
-comparatively in the area and surrounding areas we were under the market value for other childcare centers.
-due to increase of minimum wage in San Jose where our association office is located we had to match that across the association within the camp and childcare departments.

I am so sorry we weren’t better with communicating to our families and sites about the price increase. Unfortunately, as I said we have so many financial strains within our Association with rental increases, minimum wage going up to $10/hour, and unifying the Association pricing structure was pretty unavoidable to not increase prices. Again, I am so sorry and I do value your feedback.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

@Hmmm --- huh? The schools aren't charging the parents anything, the YMCA (a non-profit organization that has no relationship to the school system) is, and they aren't paying property taxes on the day care facilities at the schools. So I am just very confused by your comment.

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Posted by Yes
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Hmm is just a 'red state'. He wants to reduce taxes on the wealthy and increase them on the poor. Doesn't matter what the subject matter is.. .flat tax! flat tax! burrowing owls died? we need a flat tax!

It's tiring to see how entitled parents are. They get great tax breaks (deductions), yet use more services! Now, they are complaining that they will have to pay a private organization for services they are getting.

Poor parents!

Like this comment
Posted by Y parent
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm

While I agree that the original fee hikes were outrageous and should have been communicated in a more timely manner (more time for parents to find another solution), the revised rates of $290 and $399 a month are a steal for parents looking for part-time care. By my math, these rates are 49% and 67% of the cost of 5 days, only slightly higher than 40% and 60%, respectively. Most other places charge a much higher premium for taking part of a full-time slot (look at any area preschool or daycare).

Why not approach the part-time demand more intelligently? 100 spaces, set aside 75 for full time. Once 25 more enroll for Thursday, part time including Thursday is no longer an option. If you only want 2 or 3 days, choose other days or go elsewhere. Maximize capacity given the number of staff paid to run it. Simple as that. In the meantime, I'll be rethinking my annual charitable contribution to the Y unless they start to approach this sensibly.

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Posted by Waaaait a minute
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Does anyone else find it curious how such a huge increase can be followed so quickly by such a large reduction?

If nothing was said, I guess they would just accept all that extra money without a word. The fact that they were able to bring a reduction so quickly makes me wonder even more. Do they REALLY have a control on what they need to charge? This recent quick increase, complain, then quick decrease seems arbitrary and like they were trying to get the more affluent area to meet the shortfall of the less affluent area YMCAs.
These are VERY large percentage swings that would signal a red flag to any auditor worth his salt.
Changes like this reflect an organization out of touch with its actual costs.

Like this comment
Posted by debbie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

any other options besides YMCA? I have a single mom friend in Mountainview at Bubb that desperately needs to find something. the Y program at her school is full and she can't go the nanny route--plz email me

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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