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Todays post is one that is very close to my heart and one that I have been asked many, many times from Parents in the past.
How do I know what is the best form of Childcare for my baby? What choices are out there?
I qualified as a NNEB Nursery Nurse way back in 1980 and I have worked across all areas of childcare from being a Nanny, working in School as a Special Support Assistant, Children Centres as a Play leader and running my own Playgroup and dedicated Event/Wedding Nanny, right up to my role for the last 10 years as a Childminder, rated Good by Ofsted. So I feel I might have enough experience to help you with this question.
If you are in the position of needing childcare, it can be a mine field trying to work out what is best for your own child, its so hard having to even think of going back to work after a baby, but sometimes its for economical reasons or career reasons, back to work you must go.
So lets look at what choices you have.
Ok so we have worked out that for what ever reason you now need to go back to work. Its a terrifying prospect but it has to be done, so what choices are there?
Basically you have
1/ If they are available and not working the times you need themselves.
2/If they are living close enough to make it feasible to use them for childcare
3/ If they are young enough to manage caring for a young baby or child
4/ If they are in good health themselves to be able to care for a young child or baby.
But remember this, Family may have other commitments that might not suit yours sometimes. You may need extra hours that they might not be able to fulfil or you might feel uncomfortable asking them. They might decide after a while that it is to much for them and you are then back to square one, looking for childcare again. On the other hand it may be the perfect solution.
This can be expensive and you need to remember that your child will be one of many. They will not get one to one care and attention, as the carers have to consider all the children in each group they manage. But you may feel that the option is more appealing to have more than one member of staff working with your child and your child will be mixing with a larger group of children. Sometimes there can be as many as 20 children to each room. Also the building will be a dedicated childcare environment. Nurseries are inspected by Ofsted and need to comply to certain regulations. The staff will all have some form of childcare qualification and undergo regular in house training. The hours they are open will be set and they will not be able to care for sick children, so you will need to be able to arrange for cover if you have to work and your child is sick. Also be aware that if you are late collecting your child you will be charged a extra fee, without exception. Ask for references , as this is a good way of finding out what parents think of the Nursery. Lastly take a look around you. Do the children look happy? Do the staff look happy? How do you feel about the place?
A childminder works either alone or with assistants, she can have up to 4 children under 3 and 6 under 8 at any one time on her own. The numbers will change if she has an assistant. They work from their own home, but some like me have dedicated childcare spaces, set out with toys and equipment both within a certain space in the house and in their gardens, much like a Nursery. Also like a Nursery they are inspected by Ofsted and need to comply to certain regulations. Your child will have more one to one attention and although they will be in smaller groups, they will be mixing both in the Childminder’s home environment and within the community at Playgroups, outings etc. So if your child getting outside and mixing into the community is important to you, this is something you need to think about. Ask the Childminder about her typical day, what does she do ? where does she go? what activities does she have to offer? You will be surprised how much she can pack into a day. Childminders didn’t have to be trained, but these days all childminders are trained and have to be qualified in First Aid and Food Hygiene , some like me have formal training as well. So don’t be afraid to ask what qualifications they have, im sure they will be more than happy to let you know what they have in place. Also ask for references, as these are a good way of chatting to other parents who use the service and what experiences they have had with their own children. Ask yourself some questions, Do the children look happy and are they busy playing? Where will your children sleep? How does she deal with discipline? Like a Nursery , Childminders are not able to except sick children , so again you will need a back up plan in case you need to work over those times. Unlike Nurseries, Childminders set their own working times, some may be flexible and able to accommodate extra hours or days, this may be something you need to ask . Also some will charge for late pick up’s and some will not bother. Its down to the individual person how she runs her business.
This is the most expensive choice of the lot. But it is something that you may feel is the best choice for your family. The Nanny could be qualified or not, there are no laws that say a Nanny needs to be qualified or inspected by any governing body, to date (2017) this may change in the future. To find a Nanny you can either
1/ go through an Agency which you will need to pay a fee to register with. The advantage of this is that the Agency should have vetted the prospective Nannies for you and will give you a list of suitable Nannies for you to consider. Some may even interview them for you, however I suggest that you do this yourself if you have the time. They will all be different and you need to be able to get along with her and feel confident that she know what she is doing.
2/ Advertise for a Nanny yourself through magazines or newspapers or the Social Media. Be very aware of checking all their papers and qualifications, CRB and Passports. Also think of your own safety when interviewing these people. I would suggest that if possible you interview them outside of your own home and away from your children for the first interview, then once you have checked the credentials out and are happy with what you have read about them, you could invite them for a second interview. Never take someone on before you have done an Enhanced CRB and you have checked out references. Remember this person is going to be working in your home around your personal items and will be in charge of your child.
A Nanny can be full or part time, they can live in or out of your home and will work hours that you stipulate at interview. You can also set the expected duties that you wish them to complete. They will be able to care for your child whilst it is ill and you can build in some babysitting duties as well if that is something you may require. You will be employing the person to work for you and as such you will be expected to pay all stamp duties and income tax as well as provide meals and possible sick pay. You will need to check with the national Insurance and Tax people as to the current regulations you need to apply to in your own country and area you live in, as these can change from place to place.
If you wish your child to accompany you on Business trips or you require childcare on Holiday and Vacation’s then a Nanny will be an asset to you. I have worked as a Nanny in the past and I have had some good experiences and some bad ones, always remember it is a two way street, you may be employing her but you need to make sure she is happy and her needs are being met as well as the needs of yourself and your child or children.
Lastly you can always team up with another family to employ a Nanny as a Nanny Share. This is where two families share the same Nanny and as such you share the costs involved with employing the Nanny . She works her hours across both homes and will usually live out.
So the initial choice is a very personal one, and if you don’t have a definite choice in mind, I always suggest that you explore all the options in your area, you will know instinctively what you like and don’t like about each place. Write notes and ask questions at every place you go to. The staff wont mind and you will feel you have made the right choice when you do. Ask about staff qualifications and training, if this is something that concerns you. Ask other Parents you know about their feelings on each place, recommendation goes along way. But also remember that what suite one person , may not be right for another, so don’t right something off because your friend didn’t like it. Go and check it out for yourself. Think of all the areas that might arise and how you will cope. Will you be able to take time off if your child is ill? or will you need to have someone who is able to do this for you? How will you fund your childcare? Check out if you are able to get Government help towards the cost of childcare.
As you can see there is a awful lot to think about and take into consideration when choosing childcare. Take your time and give yourself plenty of time to explore all options, leaving it to the last minute to find suitable childcare will cause you lots of stress and frustration. Think about availability of space, the place you are looking at may not have spaces, or the Nanny may need to give notice at their current place first before she can start with you.
So now you have an outline of all the options available, take this and see what is available around you, make a list and go and see them. Explore what’s around you and feel excited about this new venture. Be confident that you as a parent will make the right choices that suit you and your individual family.
I hope you have found this article informative and interesting. If you have any questions at all, feel free to contact me and I will help all I can. Don’t forget to Share across all your Social Media sites. and with your friends. Thanks for reading
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