With the holidays fast approaching, many working parents will have to find a childcare solution unless they can spare some days holiday off work. But choosing childcare can be a daunting task, especially if you’re leaving your child in the care of someone else for the very first time.
Childcare costs can account for a large amount in a household budget, so it’s essential to find the right type of help to suit your lifestyle needs, that’s also affordable.
Charges vary depending on a number of factors: how many hours of childcare you need, whether you want childcare at home, if the carer is experienced and the age of your children.
Follow our guide which takes you through the various options from nannies to nurseries.
Types of childcare
- A nanny
A more traditional type of childcare, a live-in or live-out nanny, typically full-time, is responsible for one-on-one care usually from morning through to night. Duties can include cooking meals, washing, playtime, bathtime and often housework if agreed. Expect to pay £8.73 per hour for a live-out nanny and an average of £309 per week for a live-in nanny.
- A babysitter
This kind of childcare is usually arranged on a more informal, ad-hoc basis – as and when you need them, normally at your own home. They tend to be less experienced, charging an average hourly rate of £7.09.
- A childminder
Childminders are self-employed and can care for up to six children under 12 years, at any one time, in their own home. Always check that your childminder is Ofsted registered and request references from other parents who leave their children in the childminder’s care. You can expect to pay £6.39 per hour.
You can search for a registered childminder local to you via the government website.
Either run privately, through a community organisation, local authority or an employer, day nurseries can provide care for children aged from six weeks up to five years. Always ask to see the most recent inspection reports (they have to be carried out annually), and check that they are registered with a local Health and Social Care Trust. Expect to pay £115 per week part-time or £212 per week full-time, and often these charges will still apply during holidays.
- Playgroup or pre-school
Available for three to five-year-olds, this community or voluntary-run type of care is typically offered in part-day sessions – either morning or afternoon. Although it’s a low-cost option, you’ll still need to find childcare to cover the school holidays. Expect to pay between £5 and £10 for a three-hour session unless this is part of the state school system.
There is help available to finance your childcare costs, no matter what your income.
Who can help?
- Your employer
Childcare vouchers may be offered by your employer in addition to your pay cheque, or as a ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme where part of your pay is deducted to allow for the inclusion of childcare vouchers. You can choose your own childcare provider but they must be Ofsted registered.
Use the government’s childcare vouchers calculator to help you work out the best option for paying for childcare.
- The government
If you are working, you could be entitled to tax credits to help pay for part of your childcare. Depending on your income, you could receive up to £122.50 per week for one child or £210 for two or more children.If you’re working, you
Use the government’s tax credits calculator to check your entitlement.
- Free early education and childcare
Children living in England aged between three and four are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare annually. The hours can be redeemed at nurseries, playgroups, preschool, childminders and Sure Start Children’s Centres.
Childcare can be expensive, so it’s important to budget and plan ahead. Do your research, compare costs between the various types of childcare providers and check if help is available to fund the fees.