Any parent will know that childcare is often a constant juggling act. Many nurseries are only open from 8am to 6pm, childminders might have similar hours, having a nanny or au pair living in your house all week might not be practical. If you’re a parent who works very irregular hours or does shifts, it can often be difficult to get good childcare at very short notice, especially when you have no family members to step in and help you out. But how do you wade your way through all the childcare options available, and find the best and safest for your child?
Employing someone solely to provide childcare is often seen as expensive, but might not be as costly as you think. Average wages for a full time, live-in nanny are between £450 and £700 per week, and you’ll need a spare room to accommodate them too. It’s a lot of money, but with average weekly nursery fees around the £230 mark, if you have more than two children requiring childcare, it could be the sensible option. DBS checking on nannies is tricky from a parent’s point of view. Individual parents aren’t allowed to ask for a DBS check without going through a registered body such as OFSTED. If you employ your nanny through an agency, they might also be registered with DBS to provide this service. If you are employing an overseas au pair, then you may have to ask them to provide the equivalent of a DBS check issued in their own country to give reassurances about their criminal past, or rather, lack of it.
Babysitters are usually hired on an ad-hoc basis, to cover evenings out or other social occasions. Babysitters generally don’t stay overnight, and are self-employed rather than employed by the client. Babysitting is a common sideline for people working as nursery nurses or teachers, and these people will probably be DBS checked for their main job. Many parents are happy to accept this DBS as all the proof they need that the babysitter will be safe with their child. If however you are asking someone under the age of 18 to babysit, DBS checks can’t be done. Of course there’s nothing wrong with using a friend’s teenager to mind your kids while you have a night out at the theatre, but care should be taken if you don’t know the babysitter personally.
Childminders are a more formal type of childcare, but some are happier to be more flexible than a nursery. Some will even have your child overnight. Childminders are self-employed and must be registered with OFSTED in England and Wales or the Care Inspectorate in Scotland. Childminders have to undergo detailed police checking as a condition of being registered and should be more than happy to show you their current DBS paperwork. A DBS shouldn’t be the only checking you do on any prospective childcare though. Ask to speak to parents who are already using their services, or do some research about them online.