It’s one of the biggest costs associated with having a baby – the costs of getting someone to care for your children when maternity leave Is over and you must go back to work. There are many options for childcare, and the right one for you will depend on your individual circumstances and how many children you have.
Many parents like the concept of a nursery setting where children can be dropped off on the way to work and picked up again on the way home. Nurseries must be registered and checked, and as your child gets older the nursery staff with help with basic numeracy and literacy before they start school. All staff working in nurseries are also fully DBS checked to make sure they are appropriate people to be with children. A full-time nursery place costs between £220 per week on average outside London to just over £300 in London, with costs being slightly higher for younger children. Good nurseries are often extremely popular, so don’t leave it to the last minute to try to find a place for your children. Many will also consider part-time places which allows parents to combine nursery with other childcare arrangements.
Some parents prefer a more “at home” setting for their child’s care, and childminders who operate from their own home may be a good choice. All childminders must register with Ofsted and undergo a thorough training and checking process with DBS before being allowed to start work, but may have more flexibility than a nursery in dealing with individual children’s needs. Costs are slightly cheaper than nursery, with a full time childminding place costing between £200 and £290 per week depending on your area. Word of mouth and personal recommendation is often the best place to find a good childminder, but your local Council will also have a list of all the registered minders in your area.
The only option for having your children cared for in your own home is to employ a nanny. Although a full-time nanny can cost you £500 per week, this might be the most cost effective option if you have two or more children, and there is also the option of sharing a nanny with one or two other families to reduce the cost further. The nanny relationship is different in that you take on the role of employer, and manage national insurance and tax deductions, as well as paying holiday and sick pay if applicable.
Every family works out their childcare arrangements differently, and many also rely on unpaid childcare from grandparents or other family members. If you have a friend who has a similarly aged child, you could agree to help each other out with a reciprocal childcare agreement. As children get older, they may qualify for a free place at a state pre-school or nursery class in a school, but this is often only for a few hours per day. Most children are entitled to 15 hours per week, and these “free hours” can be used to offset the cost of a nursery or childminder too.