According to the National Childcare Trust, 60% of women say that childcare is the biggest concern when returning to work. Some of the most common feelings expressed by mothers include guilt and fear that the childcare won’t be good enough.
Finding the right childcare can be a confusing and time consuming process with many things to consider from staff capabilities, parenting philosophy, family life (including the long/unpredictable hours worked!) setting ethos, curriculum and budget to name a few.
Keep an open mind
Although finding Mary Poppins might be difficult (even she had her faults!) the key is to keep an open mind when exploring the different forms of childcare available, and thinking about the needs of you, your child and the wider family.
I have met with many parents who prior discussing their individual needs have been set on having a particular form of childcare, only to realise another form that they hadn’t looked into was a better option for them.
A day nursery (as opposed to a nursery school) is normally a privately run nursery for children aged 3mths to 5 yrs. However there are also Local Authority nurseries and community nurseries. Day nurseries (like childminders) follow the early years foundation stage are regulated and inspected by Ofsted and they have to adhere to certain ratio levels of staffing.
Normal hours are from 8am to 6pm, usually all year round except for public holidays. Some nurseries will provide 3 meals a day whereas at others you may be asked to provide a packed
lunch or tea.
- Many parents enjoy the social aspect of nurseries, with children having an opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills by playing with a number of children.
- Children are provided with a key worker (usually your first point of call, and the person who reports back on what your child has done that day) and also a wider team, further developing their social and emotional skills.
- A nursery place can be seen as a stable and reliable form of childcare, because the nursery will be open regardless of whether one carer is ill or late. Opting for a nursery means you don’t have to take someone else’s sickness or holidays into account.
- Most staff within nurseries are required to have a level 3 childcare qualification.
- One problem with nurseries is that although you are paying a high charge, you must fit in with their opening and closing times. You will also need to find back-up care when the nursery is closed or when your child is ill.
- Most nurseries have a waiting list and places at nurseries can be limited.
- Nurseries tend to be very cautious about children coming in sick, (or even feeling sick while at the setting). Children catch A LOT of bugs at Nursery.
What else to consider?
- It is always worth visiting a number of nurseries, and seeing how the staff interacts with the children to be able to assess if this setting is right for you and your child.
- Ask about staff turnover as this might be an indication of morale amongst staff. Children thrive in a safe and secure environment; a high staff turnover is likely to prevent this.
There are of course other forms of childcare to consider from Au Pairs to Maternity Nurses, Night Nannies to Nanny Housekeepers.
If you would like support in finding the right childcare to meet your needs, Families Work is a bespoke childcare agency that supports parents to source childcare form nurseries to nannies. All consultants have over 15 years experience consulting within the childcare sector.
About the Author
Emma Dewey is the Director of Families Work, a bespoke childcare consultancy agency that supports companies and parents to balance family and work life. Services include a bespoke childcare search service, maternity coaching, parent workshops as well as a parent trouble shooting service. As a childcare specialist Emma regularly consults for Local Authorities and associations such as the British Association of Au Pairs.