Guidelines for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) Sliding Fee Scale
The 1999 Legislature passed a revision of ECFE statutes that states:
A district must establish a reasonable sliding fee scale but it shall waive the fee for a participant unable to pay.
In order to implement this statute language, the following guidelines are suggested, recognizing that ECFE class fees are best determined by each local community and region of the state. You know your community best and are in the best position to create an ECFE sliding fee scale acceptable to the families in your area. With this in mind, please consider the following guidelines for developing a sliding fee scale if you do not already have one.
Provide three to five levels of fees according to income and include one category indicating waived fees for those unable to pay. You might include language in your program brochures regarding the category of waived fees such as the following: “All families are welcome. No one will be denied participation due to inability to pay.” We want to avoid making parents feel uncomfortable by having to request scholarships or fee waivers. A recommended sliding fee scale allowing parents to pay confidentially on an honor system based on their income or special circumstances seems the most respectful way to address this concern.
Keep the fee scale simple-avoid too many levels, avoid having parents calculate percentages of class fees based on income, and avoid complicated additional fee scales for sibling/child care. (This doesn’t mean not to charge for sibling/child care, but please keep it simple!)
Check with neighboring districts as to how they are handling a sliding fee scale-use your informal networks. Neighboring coordinators may have a plan in place that will work well for you if you have not previously had a sliding fee scale.
It is appropriate to consider use or adaptation of the free and reduced-price lunch income guidelines when developing your sliding fee scale.
As indicated, these are only guidelines, and you are encouraged to work with your advisory council to create or update the sliding fee scale best suited to your district. If you have further questions, contact, Early Learning Services Supervisor at 651/582-8412.