Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Back to work? Finding Childcare that is right for you


Going back to work after a long period of time off, maybe through maternity leave or maybe because you have chosen to be a stay at home parent for a few years, can be a daunting task not only is your brain in overload about what the new job entails, what the people are like that you are going to work with - you also have the added stress of finding a child care service that is right for not just you but the whole family, its something you all need to think about, its no good if mums happy but baby or child doesn't like there surroundings, or vice versa.

I have put together some ideas and tips that I have come across whilst looking for a service provider for my boys.



First things first, what kind of child care do you want? there are a few options available to consider,
  • An Au pair/Nanny 
  • Childminder
  • nursery
Nannies are a home help that will look after your home and children whilst you are at work, they are significantly cheaper due to the fact that they will live in your home with you, they will expect usually there food a room and some time off during the week.

Childminders, usually most are really flexible if you are looking for someone to look after your children, for unsocial hours, evenings, weekends, and bank holidays these are the best point of call, some will offer an overnight service as well at additional costs.

Nursery's, are great lots of children all around the same age group usually very well stocked with all the equipment a child needs, the downside of a nursery is most will close bank holidays, weekends and are open from on average 8am until 6pm.

Where Can I find Childcare Providers in my area?

  • Try your local council, they usually have a list of all the different providers in your area along with phone numbers to get in touch with them.
  • If you have children at a local School, or even if not its worth popping in to them they usually keep a list of the childminders that drop off there.
  • Drop by your local children's centre often they have a list of childminders or hold groups specifically for childminders.
  • Contact your health visitor if they don't have numbers for child care providers, they can usually point you in the right direction.
  • You could try your local Gumtree for Nannie adverts, childminders and babysitters, just be careful and ask to see there paper work and make sure they are properly registered.
There are also some sites online that you can use

  • ChildCare.co.uk list all sorts of childcare services - although to make full use of this website you have to pay a subscription.
  • Find a babysitter. com this is free but isn't as widely used as the above but still worth a look.
  • There are some Local boards on Netmums that you an advertise, and also browse the childminders in your area. (If you type "Childcare" in the search box and you are logged in, it should bring up childcare options for your area.

When considering which childcare provider you would like, think about what you all want to gain from and from where, or who you are going to be leaving your child before making a decision. Once you have decided which route of child care you would like to go down, its time to start looking and ringing round to see whom is available, if there are child care spaces? and are they close to your home?, listen to the back ground noise when you make a phone call - first impressions count, I think you can sometimes get an idea of what places are like from ringing, ask lots of questions don't be afraid to find out the providers background and what qualifications they have, remember they are your children and you have the right to ask for any information you think will be relevant. Make appointments to visit the childcare areas you like the sound of.

Once you have done this don't be afraid to look at there background details you can visit online there last Ofsted report this is a really simple website to navigate around, it shows you information on whether the provider has ever had a complaint made against them, what they thought of there last inspection and the findings. Also don't be afraid to ask other parents about the services of the childcare provider sometimes word of mouth can be a good idea.

Next the visit, some providers especially nursery's, I have found from personal experience can be quite pushy in trying to get you to sign forms and pick them, do not be pushed into anything even if you really like the place, person, or provider, take time to look around, its alright to go away and think about your decision, it is a big one after all. If you are unsure drop into places unannounced - some providers do not like this approach, however I think you get a good idea of what to expect when they don't have any time to prepare for your visit. If your still unsure maybe its not the right place for you and your children or maybe you need to visit again, visiting a few times will also help your child to get used to there new surroundings so it isn't somewhere they don't know when you eventually leave them.



Finding a childcare provider that fits in with the whole family, isn't easy especially finding something that fits in with working hours and that is the right place for your child, however it is important you make the right decision, I have put together a short summery and tips guide.

  • Look around at different sites, some providers will be listed in some places but not in others
  • Ring around find out prices, times, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • check out the providers Ofsted report, you can find out a lot of extra information from there reports/inspections.
  • Don't get pushed into anything.
  • Visit, visit, visit don't be afraid if you need more than a few visits before you make up your mind.
  • Ask lots of questions and watch/ask your child what they think.
  • Most of all try to enjoy looking for your childcare, even if you don't like where you have been try to see positives from the experience.
  • Remember to take care when choosing, a child's start will shape there future
  • If it goes wrong, or your child starts a place that isn't working out get your list of providers out and try again.                   
  

1 comment:

  1. Some great advice here. We had a nanny to help for years with us both working full time but had to move to nursery when I had 6 for a while. Now thankfully then are old enough to babysit themselves while we are working!

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