What Are The Childcare Options for Working Parents in the UK
Childcare Options for Working Parents in the UK – Choosing the Right One
Childcare for working parents is a crucial service that defines the lives of working parents. It is one facility that can make or break careers and life goals because you cannot quit that career you have worked so hard for, and you cannot leave those little munchkins that carry your heart to any care that is less than perfect. Is there a childcare option that is perfect and all-encompassing? No. There are several types of options available in the UK, and which one works for you depends on your requirements and expectations.
Let’s talk about all the childcare options for working parents in the UK, and then let’s understand the nuances of choosing the right one.
Registered childminders are self-employed people who offer childminder services from their own home or personal property in your local area. These individuals usually have a passion for childcare and should be a registered childminder with Ofsted in England and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland. A registered childminder fee is often one of the lowest in all the childcare options available, but they may lack some of the standard facilities that you may be looking for your children, like an ear-marked play area, an in-house nurse, etc.
Children’s Centers in the UK are under the control of the local authority and are a part of the Sure Start program that was kickstarted to target child poverty. Child Centers work with the intention to provide families with the one-stop solution for their various needs like childcare, accessible education, family support, health, and employment support for the parents. The services offered by Childcare Centers can vary from centre to centre and depends on how good your local authority is and how supportive of parents they are.
There are several different types of day nurseries in the UK. The main types are private nurseries, community nurseries, local authorities nursery, and workplace nurseries. They offer care for children from birth to 5 years of age. All nursery schools work with a different capacity based on the size of the facility, requirements, and the availability of the staff. A nursery school is often the chosen option for busy parents.
This type of facility is less formal compared to many nurseries. Pre-school playgroups operate for just a few hours a day and do not offer full-time care. They are usually run by individuals or charities and often require parents to volunteer their support.
Crèches provide occasional care for children when parents need help. For example, a few hours during the gym, a few hours at the shopping centre, half a day for a wedding, etc. This type of care is provided at particular premises where parents can hand over their children to the staff and finish the task at hand.
Nannies are private individuals who take care of children as their job. They usually stay with the family seeking care for their children or may also come in for the working hours and may move out as soon as parents return from work.
Nannies are paid according to the number of hours they care for the child and based on the services they offer. It is very common for nannies to also work as house-help and provide full-day services to their employers. This may be a cheaper option if you have three children or more but may not be ideal for only one child.
Live-In Au Pair
Typically an au pair lives with the family, and they are often from a foreign country. If you are in a position to have a spare room for an au pair, this can be an excellent option for parents as you will only need to pay the au pair a small fee as this will be like pocket money for them. Costs vary for an au pair, so it would be wrong to go into details, but it is all down to personal circumstances.
This type of care is provided by a member of the family or a friend. This can be a daily arrangement or an occasional arrangement where the individual helps out with childcare while they work or run some errands. In some households, grandparents offer daycare for the children as parents go to work, and it is also common to find arrangements when the family takes over after the hours of formal childcare.
After School Clubs
Did you know after school clubs are offered at many schools? After school clubs occur after regular school. Some after school clubs start after normal hours and last a few hours after, while others begin after school is over for the day.
There are after school clubs for a variety of interests, from art to political activism. These after school clubs help children find their passion and have fun at the same time. These after school clubs are usually free to join, but some after school clubs require an enrollment fee.
Over the past few years, there have been several different initiatives to get students to eat breakfast at school in the UK.
These schemes are designed to reduce problems associated with hungry children, such as lower concentration and poorer performance in class.
Breakfast clubs are usually run by volunteers outside school hours, with most schools encouraging parents to take part in this way.
If you are a parent who starts work early, then sending your child to breakfast clubs can ensure they get breakfast and allow you some extra time to get to work knowing your child is safe in the school environment.
Choosing Childcare Options for Parents Who Work
Every childcare facility is different in terms of what it offers to the parents, and how much it costs vary. Parents must consider a few factors before choosing a childcare type that may work for their families. What are the factors to consider for choosing a childcare service?
Are you comfortable handing over your child to a stranger?
Most people would want a family member to take care of a child when it comes to child care, but that is not always possible.
Parents must consider if they want their child to be cared for by a family member or an outsider. Moreover, a family member can step in only if they are available. This factor needs to be considered, and specific arrangements must be made accordingly.
Would you choose in-house or in-facility care?
A family member or a nanny can care for a child in your house, while all the other types of options are in-facility options. Which one do you prefer? Both have their pros and cons.
Would it be easier to have childcare close to work or home?
Having childcare near the office means parents can drop and pick the child on the way to work and rush to the site if needed. On the other hand, having it close to home has its perks, like you can drop off the child even on days of work from home. Which one suits you better?
Is there a proper backup?
Childcare services need proper backup. What if the nanny gets sick or the childcare centre Is closed for the day you need help? Parents have to consider having a solid backup so that their arrangement works smoothly.
What are the childcare costs?
As childcare costs continue to rise, childcare programs will become more popular. childcare programs are an excellent way for parents to return to work or school without worrying about childcare costs
Budget is one of the most significant deciding factors for most parents, and childcare costs can grow substantially. You need to ask whether you can afford the childcare costs involved with the right childcare option you are interested in? Moreover, it is also important to consider if the chosen service is worth the childcare costs involved.
Tax Free Childcare
You can get up to £500 tax free childcare every three months up to £2,000 a year for each of your children to help with the growing costs of childcare. If you have disabled children, this tax free childcare will increase to £1,000 and up to £4,000 a year.
You can sign up to receive tax free childcare by signing into your childcare account.
If you signed up to a childcare voucher scheme or if you directly contracted a childcare provider or scheme before 4th October 2018, you can carry on getting childcare vouchers as long as your wages were adjusted before 4th October 2018 and if you have stayed with the same employer and if they continue to run the childcare vouchers scheme.
You also need to make sure that you do not take an unpaid career break for longer than a year or lose your childcare vouchers benefits.
Free Childcare In The UK
In the UK, you may be able to get 30 hours of free childcare if you live in England and your child is aged between 3 and 4 years old.
The free childcare needs to be with an approved childcare provider, and the free childcare stops when your child starts in reception class or reaches the UK compulsory school age.
The free childcare is only available during school term time, so you will either have to pay for your childcare in the school holidays, so please be aware of the nursery fees before you commit.
In school holidays you may be able to send your child to some Holiday clubs of which some will be free, and some will have a fee and a lot of the time it can work out cheaper.
To be eligible for 30 hours a week free childcare, you have to be working, and your partner also needs to be working. You need to be working for at least the national minimum wage for 16 hours a week or more on average.
As a quick example, to get 30 hours free, then over the next three months, you expect to earn at least £1853.28, which is the National living wage for people aged over 23 years old. If you have a partner, they are also required to earn at least the national living wage.
If you are self-employed, the three-month rule does not apply, but you have to take an average over the year and still exceed that amount to receive the free childcare.
Free childcare for many working families is a great benefit and has helped a lot of working families get back to work and back earning and providing for their families.
One thing about the 30 hours free childcare that would help working families is if it would reflect the number of hours the parent works or at least cover 9-5 hours but still, the 30 hours free childcare great, but if the parents work 9-5, then there will still be childcare costs involved.
A lot of child care providers offer just afternoon sessions, or if your shifts are in the morning, then you could look for somewhere that does morning sessions or provides flexible hours to suit your requirements.
The private nurseries we have used in the past tend only to offer free childcare hours that coincide with the school hours, but every childcare provider is different, so it is something that you will need to check before you commit.
One thing that you need to consider with this free childcare is that it may not be completely free as many approved childcare providers, including private nurseries, ask that you pay for the extra costs like the meals your child will eat and consumables like nappies and trips out.
Don’t assume that the free childcare is entirely free, and if your child needs extra hours around the free childcare hours offered by the childcare provider, then this will be additional childcare costs. You need to ask your provider and fully understand as you do not want any surprises at the end of the week or month.
As you can see, there are many options available for parents who have busy working lives and who are always on the go. It is down to you as parents to decide what is the best option for your family. If you have very young children, then possibly taking some time off work to be with them is an option and something you will never regret.
I have children aged under 4, and I am in a fortunate position where I am self employed, and I can work anytime I like, so I have changed my work hours to fit in with my children’s needs, and this has created many great memories, and I encourage as many parents as I can to make some cuts and enjoy your time with your children while they are young.
It feels like only yesterday my little girl was born, and in no time she will be starting primary school and then soon after that, my little boy will also be starting primary school, and I can then go back to working hours that are more suited to the school timetable.
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Whoobly was started to help parents to get through this wonderful journey in life that is parenthood. As I write these topics, I am also learning and discovering new great parenting techniques that have helped me become a better father and husband to my family.
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