I recently had to look into childcare for baby Pip as I soon return to full time work and A will also return back to full time work not long after when he finished paternity leave. We really struggled with finding childcare in our area that suited to our schedule and needs, but we did find some eventually. A works shifts and I work 5 days a week, normally 9-5 but it can sometimes be long hours.
I luckily work with children so I knew a bit more about childcare then others but I still struggled. It’s a bit of a minefield so I’ve put together a bit of a guide that may be helpful for your or someone you know who is looking for/going to need childcare.
Stats and figures
– 79% of parents of children aged 0-14 use childcare during term time
– There has been a drop in the number of childminders and it at it’s lowest since 2011
– Half of childcare providers have increased their fees since 2016.
In the UK some 2 year olds and all 3-4 years old qualify for free education. This is super but you then have to fund the first 2-3 years of their lives paying for childcare. Most mums/dads cannot afford to take time off work for longer than a year.
Obviously when the child is 4/5 they will be starting school which is free unless you choose to go private.
If you have a child that age and want to see if you are eligible then here is the link to the website: Click here
Before you start looking for childcare
Before you start looking for childcare, you need to know
– What hours/days of the week you will need from the source of childcare?
– Do you have any preferences to the type of childcare you want?
– The time you can drop and pick them up
– The area most suitable for them to go to childcare
– Your price range
Types of childcare available
There are so many different types available including Full/part time nannies, live in nannies, full time/part time child minders, nursery, creches, au pairs, baby sitters.
A full time/part time nanny – comes to your house to look after your children, may cook and clean depending on job role and hours
Live in Nanny – Has a bedroom in the house and looks after your children alongside other jobs such as cleaning and cooking.
Au-pair – A girl/boy from a foreign country who usually comes over to live with you and learn English in exchange for looking after your children and some light housework. You don’t usually pay them but provide food, cultural experiences and “pocket money”.
Full time/part time child minder – Will look after more than one child at one time in their own home.
Nursery – Looks after lots of children and you drop the child off and collect them.
Creche – A place where children can be dropped off for a few hours and provides toys/entertainment for the children. Some allow parents to leave and other ask parents to stay.
Babysitters – Hired to look after the children from a short time to overnight or longer if required/negotiated by parents. Babysitters come to the house and stay there whilst children are asleep until parents return.
They have all the benefits and their downsides so I would have a look at lots of different options and compare. We personally wanted a childminder at the start, however there were limited people in our area so we ended up at a really good nursery
Where do I look for childcare?
My most highly recommended choice would be www.childcare.co.uk
You can see reviews of childcare similar to other types of service from previous parents and you can see a picture of the childcarer, their prices and their availability. It works by the parents sending a message to the childcare provider registering and interest. They get back to you with their availably, you chat and decide whether you want to meet them or go see them.
Other places I’ve used to find childcare is facebook groups* (use with caution), netmums, the government website or your local council website.
What do I look for to ensure it’s good enough for my child?
So if you are looking for a childminder or Nanny to look after your child you want them to be a registered with Ofsted as this ensures good practice and they have to keep going on training to be able to continuing practice. Ofsted is the education authority to inspects and regulates schools, nurseries and childcare providers. A word of caution Nannies do not have to be registered with Ofsted, although they can be so this may be something you want to consider when looking for childcare. Similarly nurseries are also registered with Ofsted and their Ofsted report should be on their website or can be found on the Ofsted website. They are given ratings and you should probably want to send you child to a school that is good or outstanding.
For more information that explains Ofsted – click here
For Childminders, Nannies and if you choose to hire an Au Pair then you want to ensure they have an up-to-date DBS. This is was a CRB is called down and it’s basically a police check. Two things you need to ensure is one they have a full DBS as their are two types and one won’t provide all the background police checks. The second thing is I advise this with caution again as people can still be bad people and not be caught by the police. Always go with your gut feeling, this is your child after all. Nursery staff all have to have DBS checks.
The relationship with your child is so important. This may seem like a really obvious one but a lot of the time when the child is older you will meet teachers and other professionals without the child present, so you won’t see that relationship. However as your trusting this professional with your baby it’s important you get to see at least once their relationship with your child. You will get a sense of what they are like around kids and whether it will be a good fit.
Each person is different for what they look for in childcare so I can’t tell you what is right for you.
Asking the right questions
Again we will all have different questions but I’ve put together a list of topics that you may want to cover
*Activities they do with the child
*Times they open and close
*Staff to child ratio
*meals they provide – especially if you are weaning your child
Helping with costs
Child care is expensive and unfortunatly there is no way around it. The government does provide childcare tax credits for some professionals depending where you work. The government will pay £2 for every £8 you spend of childcare. Obviously it’s not cash in hand, so there is an account which is set up and directly taken from your wages and sent straight to the childcare provider.
The government website also states that if your workplace doesn’t provide this then they should do, so you can ask them to this! It’s no cost to your company it’s a cost to the government.
So that’s my little guide. Please share it if you think it’s useful. I would also like to know any problems you have experienced with finding childcare?
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