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Understanding childcare options

Understanding childcare options

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When children arrive in your world it’s a dead cert that at some point you will need childcare provision. Even families with a stay-at-home parent need to fall back on third-party care for the kids occasionally, so what are the options? A lot depends on your circumstances and budget, here are the most common forms of childcare available out there.

Registered Childminder

Providing care in their own home, registered childminders can accommodate up to six children under the age of eight at any one time. This can include three children under the age of five, and one baby under the age of twelve months. Many offer care for older kids too, registration is not a legal requirement for childminding kids over the age of eight. A lot of childminders offer flexible hours and will cover the school runs. An average care week of around 25 hours will set you back anything from £70-£125 per week, depending on your location.


Your role here expands to include that of an employer. You must comply with the law by collecting tax and paying National Insurance on your Nanny’s pay. Nannies can live-in, or provide daily care in your home. You make your own financial arrangements with them and benefits can include board and lodging. Pay tends to range from £270-£500 per week, plus tax and NI.

Au Pair

A foreign (usually) young adult lives in your home while studying and/or learning the English language. They will generally provide 30 hours of childcare per week and also help out around the home. Parents will normally offer board and lodgings and pay of around £80 per week.

Day Nursery

These provide care for babies and young children up to the age of five. Some nurseries will take children from six weeks of age, many don’t accept children until they are two. Day nurseries are often located in rented premises, or purpose-built facilities. They will typically offer care for children from 8am-6pm each day. Costs are similar to that of a child-minder. If your child is aged three or four they will be eligible for up to 15 hours of free care each week.

Pre-School or Playgroup

In these facilities care is generally provided from within the community, often from voluntary workers. Care is normally offered for children from three-to-five years of age, usually in half-day sessions and only during term time. Costs vary from around £3-£10 per session. As with Day Nursery, three and four year olds can benefit from up to 15 hours free every week.

Nursery School

Understanding childcare optionsOften attached to a primary school this slightly more formal setting ,offers care for kids from the age of three to five, during school hours. Care can be free if the school falls under a state funded-scheme. If not, costs can range up to around £150 per week, with the free 15 hours rule applying for three and four year olds here too.

The Family Factor

Grandparents can be a great support for working families, provided they live locally and are amenable! Increasing numbers of the older generation are stepping in to help out their grown-up kids on the childcare front, offering an invaluable service.

Informal Arrangements

If you work part-time it can be possible to arrange with a friend to care for each other’s kids when each of you are at work. The simplicity of this needs to be weighed up against the lower income from part-time working, the fact that such arrangements are not eligible for state financial assistance.

Finding affordable childcare in a safe and secure environment is never easy. It’s too often the case that one parent’s income is virtually swallowed up by childcare costs. If you have any other innovative solutions to the childcare conundrum then please do share them with us.




About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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