Choosing childcare can be a confusing and emotional time as there are many different solutions to the question of who you use to look after your child. You want to have peace of mind and be assured that you are doing the right thing. At the bottom of the page are some parents’ experiences of using childminders. Some parents use them full time, others part time and some parents mix childcare options and use nurseries, childminders and nannies.
The Advantages of using a Childminder
- are registered with and regularly inspected by Ofsted or CSSIW
- can form a close, one-to-one relationship with your child
- look after your child in a home-from-home family environment
- often have children of different ages from other families allowing your child to develop in a more natural environment
- can look after siblings together
- care for small groups of children so they can take into account the individual needs of each child
- care for your child in your own community and can easily take part in local clubs and activities
- can offer flexible hours often without late charges and can start earlier and finish later than nurseries
- can continue to care for your child once they’ve started school allowing for continuity in their relationship
- are required to have a CRB/DBS check
are required to have a valid paediatric first-aid certificate and continue to refresh their knowledge annually
- are required to have their own public liability insurance
- are required to have had a medical check before being registered
- can accept childcare vouchers if they have set up an account
- are self-employed and more motivated to make their business a success
Why hire a nanny?
Choosing the right nanny needn’t be a stressful process. For many families, hiring a nanny is a popular alternative to nurseries or childminding services as they provide a complete childcare package offering flexibility for parents and stability for children with the added benefit of personalised care, provided within the familiar surroundings of the home environment.
What if I only require before or after school care?
Families who require only a few hours of childcare each day or may not require childcare during holiday periods for instance, may wish to consider a nanny-share. Your nanny then has the benefit of working for another family, ensuring that you don’t have to pay a higher rate to keep her on or worse still, risk losing her if she finds a position offering more hours.
A popular alternative to a nanny-share is to hire a nanny with her own child. Often, a nanny who has her own child with her during her working hours, will be willing to work for a lower rate or for less hours than a nanny who has no dependants. Your nanny will benefit from the security of employment in a job that allows her to keep her own childcare costs to a minimum while affording your family the advantage of having a nanny who does not require a full time position.
Finding a nanny
In days gone by, the process of finding and hiring a nanny was often a long, drawn out process, relying on the competency of recruitment agencies to fulfil your requirements, often with substantial fees attached. Thankfully, with the arrival of modern technology, the internet has enabled direct communication between parents and care providers, removing the barriers of the past and replacing them with the advantage of more access to choice than ever before.
Using an online search platform such as Childcare.co.uk offers families and childcare providers the opportunity to connect instantly at the click of a mouse. This revolution in childcare recruitment means that the lengthy process of finding a nanny is truly a thing of the past. Once you’ve created your profile and made contact with nannies in your area you’ll be well on your way to hiring your new nanny.
By placing a detailed job description that includes as much information as possible about you and your family, you will be in a far more favourable position than a family who provide little or no specific job details. Adding a family photo to your profile will allow prospective nannies the opportunity to meet you by providing a visual “hello” from you and your family.
The interview process
As there are currently no legal requirements expected of those wishing to work as a nanny unless they choose to join the voluntary element of the childcare register with OFSTED. It is therefore very important that as a parent employing a nanny, you are making your decision based on a thorough interview process to include an identity and reference check, taking into consideration any gaps in employment and the reasons provided. You should also check the authenticity of any qualifications presented. Written references and a list of contacts provided by the nanny, should be followed up by telephone. Prepare a list of questions that are important to you and discuss them in detail with previous employers.
A criminal records checks, no longer referred to as CRB checks but as a DBS check, effective as of December 2012, are an essential part of any recruitment process. An enhanced disclosure should be presented and should not be more than three years old. If the prospective nanny does not have a valid disclosure, then one should be applied for as a condition of the role being offered. You should provide a full and detailed job description prior to interview. This will allow your prospective employee an opportunity to review the terms prior to interview and prepare relevant questions in advance.
It is useful to hold telephone interviews initially so that you can discuss the role and create a short-list of candidates to see in face-to-face interviews. It can be useful to have a partner or friend sit in on the interview so that you have someone to discuss your thoughts with following the interview.
✔ Make a shortlist of candidates to interview.
✔ Ensure that candidates provide a detailed CV with a full reference list and contact details for you to follow up on after the interview.
✔ Take copies of the DBS check and any qualifications, first aid certificates and OFSTED registration if applicable, so that you can verify these before making your final decision.
✔ Make sure that your candidates are legally allowed to work in the UK, ask to see proof of this and retain a copy if the job is offered.
✔ Prepare a list of interview questions and ask all candidates the same questions in detail. Make notes as required.
✔ Discuss specific job duties and what is and is not acceptable when caring for your children.
✔ Discuss the details of the contract and reassure your nanny that you will take care of all the employment requirements such as tax and national insurance contributions and any employee benefits offered.