There are many reasons you might be looking for a child care provider. It could be that you simply want a break every now and then and need a babysitter to take care of your children while you go out with your partner, or perhaps it might be the case that you are returning to work after maternity or paternity leave. It could even be that you need some help at home because you are overwhelmed with looking after a toddler and a newborn. Whatever the reason, you will soon find that there are plenty of choices available to you when it comes to child care.
Types of Child Care Providers
There are several types of child care providers open to you and the one that you choose will usually depend on your family circumstances, the amount of childcare that you need, and what your children’s requirements are. Below we discuss just some of the options you will have and the type of care they provide:
Childminders must be registered with their local authority if they are getting paid to care for children not closely related to them. They are self-employed individuals and typically take care of children in their own homes.
Childminders can care for between one and six children under the age of twelve in their home. This will number would include their own children though. In most cases, the childminder will only be able to look after one child under the age of one and only three children under the age of five. However, in the case of twins, there may be exceptions.
Childminders’ homes are inspected every year to ensure they are meeting the standards of care necessary. This will give you peace of mind that the provider has been checked and has the required credentials and training.
The advantages of this type of environment is that it is similar to being at home for the child. Your child will experience one-to-one care and can enjoy real-life experiences such as outings to the park or playground. He or she will enjoy home-cooked meals and will learn in small groups with other children. With a registered childminder, you may be able to avail of the free and funded child care places that are available across the country.
A nursery is usually privately run and provides care for children of all ages. The vast majority of the children attending nurseries will be aged between six weeks and five years old. However, some nurseries provide before- and after-school care for older children too.
Day nurseries vary in size and can accommodate small or large numbers of children, depending on the size of the facility and the number of staff working there. Where there is a large number of children attending, there will typically be separate rooms for children of different ages. There are different carer-to-child ratios depending on the age of the children and where the nursery is located.
For example, in England, there must be one carer for every three children aged between six weeks and two years old. For children aged two, the ratio is one to four while for kids over the age of three, the ratio is one to thirteen – provided the carer has one of the following:
- Qualified Teacher Status
- Early Years Professional Status
- Early Years Teacher Status.
Where the carer does not have one of the above, the ratio is reduced to one to eight.
In Wales, the ratios are the same for children aged two and under. However, for kids aged between three and seven, the ratio is one adult to eight children and for those aged eight to eleven one adult to every ten children.
One of the many benefits of day nurseries is that they offer both part-time and full-time places. Children will be provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner if they are there for a full day, and the cost of meals is usually factored into the fee.
Another advantage for working parents is the fact that nurseries are staffed by a number of carers, which means that there should be no disruption to care if any member of staff is unable to work for any reason.
A nanny is someone who will come to your home to take care of your child while you are not there. Nannies are professional carers who provide quality care that will also help to contribute to the development of your child.
There are many advantages to hiring a nanny to look after your child/children. Below are a few examples:
- Nannies can form close bonds with your child/children and they will be getting one-to-one care and attention.
- Your child will be in the familiar surroundings of his or her own home with toys, books and games close to hand.
- Nannies may be able to provide flexible care that will suit your family better than another type of child care providers. Your nanny might be willing to work extra hours, for example in the evening or at weekends, to save you having to find a babysitter.
- When you hire a nanny to take care of your child in your home, you do not have the worry of travel to and from a childminder or day nursery. This is something that is an issue for many parents, especially when they have to wake their sleeping children to get them ready in the mornings.
- You will have much more control over the routine your child follows. You can have a say in his or her diet and the activities that he or she takes part in.
- Your child can be cared for in your home by a nanny even if he or she is feeling unwell. With some childminders or nurseries, your children would not be allowed to attend if suffering from a bug or cold. This could mean you having to take time off work.
Choosing the Right Child Care Providers
There is a lot to think about when trying to find the right child care for you and your child. Before you make up your mind, you should think about what your requirements are and what you believe would be the right choice for your child.
When you have decided on the type of child care you prefer, you will need to find the right provider. Take some time to do your research. If you can speak to other parents about the childcare providers they are using, this might help to make your decision easier. It may be worthwhile speaking to some of your work colleagues to find out what works for them and who is taking care of their children. Word of mouth is a wonderful way to find the right childcare provider.
Whatever childcare provider you choose, make sure you get answers to the questions that are important to you. This will help you to choose the provider that will work best for you and your family.