There are many different options for childcare including:
- Day Nurseries
- Sessional Day Care and Playgroups
- Out of school care
- Home Childcare
- Overnight care
There is no single solution that fits all needs, so it is important that a range of options are available to choose from. Parents may choose a mix of solutions such as formal childcare mixed with informal childcare to solve their particular situation which may be determined by financial or work commitments.
In our high cost area, some Childminders provide “wrap around” care which may involve pre-school and after school care to provide a solution for parents who are both in full time employment. This can also include over-night care for parents employed shift working occupations such as key workers and airport workers.
Day nurseries offer care for children from birth to four or five years old. The number of children attending may vary from nursery to nursery and both size and location can be important selection criteria for parents. There are different types of nurseries including private, community, local authority and workplace nurseries. All Day Nurseries are regulated by OFSTED and are liable to their inspections.
Less formal than nurseries, these groups operate for a few hours each day only and do not provide full-time care. They tend to be run by private individuals or charities. Parents may be asked to volunteer their support for certain periods
Crèches will provide ‘occasional care’ for children and are provided on particular premises. Parents will use them on an irregular basis i.e. when they go to the gym or if they’re shopping.
Children’s centres began as a major part of the ‘Sure Start’ programme targeting child poverty. Now under local authority control, children’s centres aim to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for families and will have facilities to support early education, childcare, health, family support and help into employment (for parents and carers). Childcare facilities vary between centres – while some may offer nursery facilities, many don’t
Childminders are self-employed and usually take care of children within their own home They must be registered with Ofsted (in England)
A nanny is someone who is typically paid to look after a child (or children) in the home of the child. They can either live-in or live-out, depending on their arrangement with the family.
A family member, often a grandparent, may agree to take on some of the childcare. Frequently this is part-time, for example one to two days per week, or after the hours of formal childcare.
Paying For Childcare
Childcare is not a cheap option!
Recent studies indicate that the average British family spends over a quarter of their income on childcare. This positions the UK as one of the most expensive countries in Europe for childcare despite having a higher than average 0.4 per cent of GDP spend. Only Norway, Denmark, Spain and Sweden exceed our % of GDP. This has been the focus of some research to determine why the cost of childcare in the UK is more expensive comparatively and it is thought this is due to the ratio of carer / child required by OFSTED is higher than other countries. This would tend to explain the high cost of care to parents on one side, but a sector that has difficulty in covering its cost base on the other side. This imbalance has driven some fundamental changes in the structure of childcare providers with better funding and financial controls being introduced to secure sustainable business models.
The Government has announced the introduction of 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds in England. The implementation of this has been complicated with a mismatch of expectations by parents and childcare providers claiming that the payments to them are below a level at which they can afford to offer places. This has resulted in childcare providers only offering a fixed % of their places as funded.
The debate is likely to continue and changes made to the various factors determining the affordability to those accessing childcare.