As a childminder myself I am often asked how people find me and what makes them choose to leave their most precious possession in my care, after all there are many different types of childcare options available these days eg. family, nanny, nursery, childminder or workplace crèche (if you are very lucky)
I remember looking at childcare when my eldest were little and found the experience quite daunting. I looked at childminders and nursery schools before making my final decision which was based on lots of research and the “feel” I got from the setting.
Parents need to remember that there is no right or wrong choices for childcare, it’s a matter of personal choice. What is important, however, is that you ensure your child is receiving quality, professional care suited to their stage of development.
When choosing childcare I would strongly advise you to take the age of your child into consideration. Babies thrive on physical interaction and cuddles, so you may choose to have a one-on-one carer such as a professionally qualified nanny who would work in your own home, or a similar home setting such as an Ofsted registered childminder.
For an older child, social, physical and intellectual development should be considered, so you may choose a larger setting, such as a nursery. It is also worth investigating whether the setting accepts childcare vouchers and if you are entitled to two and three year old funding which allows you 15 hours of free childcare a week – most Nursery schools accept this funding as do some childminders.
Get as much information as possible – all professional childcarers have to be Oftsed registered and their reports are available online but I would also recommend speaking to other parents who have used that service and look into the pros and cons of each childcare setting. e.g
- Is it close to home / work
- easy to park
- clean, good state of repair and lots of age appropriate toys
- Do the kids get taken out to play / have an outside area
- whats the ratio of adults to children
- are all staff first aid trained
If you’re employing a qualified nanny, check the references, and then check them again. All registered nannies are qualified, first aid trained and police checked, (unlike unqualified nannies).
The best way to really get to know your childcare is to observe how the carer interacts with your child at an interview or visit. See if the carer responds to your child as an individual and communicates well with you too. All childcarers should have written policies with their ideas on safety and find out if their ideas fit in with your child’s routine, diet, discipline, toilet training etc.
Please also remember that you may need to find alternative care if your child becomes ill as if a child is in nursery care, or cared for by a childminder, they wouldn’t be allowed to attend until they were better to avoid spreading the illness (usually 48 hours after being symptom free). leaving you stranded without childcare. With nannies, this isn’t a problem as they are working in your home.
Choosing childcare can seem like a daunting task so I recommend you take your time and look into all your options thoroughly. A great starting point is your local authority website who should have an up to date list of all early years carers available on their site.
I also recommend checking sites such as netmums and mumsnet, although my own referrals seem to come through my Facebook page or website.