Dear parent and carers

Please take your time to read this email in full as it will provide you with important information about MASKK and changes to our fees.

MASKK was created to help reduce barriers for local people to attend work or training by providing out of school care that is affordable and high quality, somewhere the children want to be. We work behind the scenes seeking grants, fundraising and on other contracts to keep our fees low. Our After School Club fees have not changed since 2020 and our Holidays since 2021. But in April 2023 we need to increase them to help cover the forecasted deficit for 2023-2024 due to a significant rise in the Living Wage, our rent, other costs such as food and resources and a change to holiday pay entitlement for part time employees.

Our after school sessions will be increasing to £12 and our holiday sessions to £23/£30. On average that works out less than £3.50 per hour, less than the national average. For the full fee information click here Fee Policy

In 2022 last minute cancellations cost MASKK over £4,500. They also meant people who needed spaces in the holidays missed out when they didn’t need to and we have scheduled additional playworkers when we didn’t need to. It has always been part of our booking policy that if you cancel with less than a weeks notice you will still be charged. For After School we are reducing this to 2 days and for holidays 5 days. But we will be implementing this more strictly to cover our staffing costs. We are also introducing a new £5 charge for families who do not cancel and do not let us know. After school this causes delays as we have to wait on the school site until that child’s location is confirmed as they are a ‘lost child’. During holidays it also means the other children miss out on outings and activities while we wait for a child to arrive that doesn’t come. Booking just in case and not using the sessions has an impact on others.

A number of parents have been collecting late, this costs us in staff time but also has a knock on effect on other local groups and services many of our team volunteer at. If you are going to be late let us know as soon as you can so those relying on us can be informed. If there is a legitimate reason why you might be late do let us know and we’ll try and be as flexible as we can, but communicate please. Our activities wind down 30 minutes before the end of the session, at the end of the session time our team and any late collected children will be waiting in reception.

Debts are becoming an increasing issue. Currently we have over 14% of our fee income owed to us in missed payments and it has a knock on effect. We want to be helpful but you need to communicate to let us know you need help. We know talking about debts can be hard so drop us an email if that’s easier or write a letter. We might be able to signpost you to somewhere who can help. From April we will be reviewing our procedures for collecting fees owed to us, this may unfortunately include excluding children until payment plans are in place to stop debts getting larger. Log in to the parent portal to check your balance here [url]

Check you are receiving the help towards fees you are entitled to by visiting https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/  Remember if you are claiming Universal Credit it is different to Tax Credits and you MUST pay MASKK the full amount of your invoice first, then upload the invoice and proof of payment for them to reimburse you. They DO NOT pay you up front. You also need to make sure you do it in your personal claim period.

I wanted to end on a positive note though. We’ve been working with Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and together have secured funding to help develop training for Playworkers across Sheffield. Many of our team will benefit including Craig and Emma studying Level 4 PARS Playwork Practice, Emma who is training to teach and Wezz who has started a level 3 Forest School Leader Course. This will mean we’ll be increasing our quality and variety of provision for the children.