If you are a working parent it may be a challenge to get good-quality childcare for a cost that doesn’t trash your bank account. If you’re in full-time employment, it’s difficult to get the right balance of time and money spent on your youngsters.
Nonetheless, we’ve compiled some tips for you to breeze over – they could give you the best starting point if you’re looking to finalise childcare costs.
Average cost of care
Before we look into options, it’s important to understand what constitutes good value when looking for different types of care. The Money Advice Service puts the average price of child minders for children under two at £197 for a 50-hour week. Meanwhile, nurseries are around £212 per week, and nannies range from £360 a week for a live-in nanny to £512 a week for live-out nannies, with extras applying for room, board, tax and National Insurance.
However, parents are also given a number of free hours for childcare courtesy of the government; you can learn more about this by visiting the relevant GOV.UK site here.
Day nurseries, which host children up to five years old, tend to be run by local authorities, with many others either privately owned or community-led. Unsurprisingly, private nurseries cost more than others; meanwhile, community nurseries tend to charge on a sliding scale, and local government nurseries tend to take in kids referred by a social or health worker.
There is another option for many, though: community or workplace crèches. As the perfect option for working parents, they’re often free or at least inexpensive due to subsidisation. There are also nursery schools, which are usually attached to primary schools; these are great for parents who want to get young children accustomed to an educational environment.
As another good local option, child minders pick up children from school and look after them until their parents finish work. As the most expensive option – though sadly unaffordable for most –you can employ a nanny, on a part-time basis or living in your home.
Finding the best childcare provider
As with anything that involves your children, there’s no such thing as carrying out too much research. The best places to start are on the internet, reading local telephone directories, and word of mouth; the lattermost is usually the best for results, especially as you’ll have no doubt created a network with other parents.
Once you have your options, it’s worth drawing up a list of how far away each option is from your home, workplace, and if they’re old enough, your child’s school. It’s also important to find out if your chosen providers are registered with the right authorities; they need to face regular inspection from Ofsted (England), Estyn (Wales), HM Inspectorate of Education (Scotland), or the Department of Education (Northern Ireland).
Ensuring high quality
Finally, you need to visit your chosen providers to make sure you’re getting the best provider available. When visiting, talk to other parents visiting the nursery, asking questions about the activities children take part in, how strict illness policies are, the ways the childcare provider deals with emergencies, and any illness policies. Naturally, there are other things worth looking out for, too – outdoor play areas, wall decorations, food options, and the safety of the premises generally.
Also take note of how interested staff are in your child, too; they ought to be asking about asking questions about diet, health, or any preferences on how the kids prefer to be cared for. Just remember that all carers are different; keep an open mind about their methods.