Childcare Options - Which is best for my family?
Nannytax believe that when choosing the best childcare option for you, there are 5 key things to consider. Below are the most common forms of childcare compared by cost, location, hours and flexibility, qualifications and whether you can get some financial support as well as a few pros and cons for each. Please note that salary information provided are approximates and vary in different locations and roles.
An Au Pair is usually a foreign national who lives with, and is treated like a family member. Whilst studying in the UK, learning about British culture or improving their English language, an au pair will look after your children and may do some housekeeping for you, but they are not a childcare professional.
Cost: £70-100 per week pocket money
Location: In the family’s home
Hours and Flexibility: Normally on a part time basis roughly 25 hours per week, can be flexible for some additional hours such as baby sitting
Qualifications: Little to no professional experience with children, so they should not look after children under the age of three
Financial help available: No, as they are not registered childcare providers
- Do not need to register as an employer if they earn under £116 gross per week
- Will often do some housework as well as look after your children
- If they speak another language, your children could benefit by learning the au pair's language or about their culture
- Privacy within your own home may be an issue as an au pair is regarded as part of the family
- Must provide food, accommodation and trips with the family, increasing the overall cost of living for the family
- Communication may be challenging when the au pair is adjusting to your household rules if the au pair’s first language is not your own and they may require extra support from you
- Not for children under 3
A nanny is employed by a family to care for their child in the family's own home. This means that they are usually the most flexible form of childcare available and hours can vary depending on the family’s needs.
Cost: Must be above the National Minimum wage, and can vary on location number of hours and type of nanny
Location: Works in the family’s home and can be live in our live out
Hours and Flexibility: Nannies are the most flexible childcare option in terms of hours, days, and even working abroad with the family
Qualifications: There are no legal requirements for a nanny to have any formal qualifications, but many study for them and most nannies choose to be Ofsted registered
Financial help available: Yes, if the nanny is registered with regulatory body such as Ofsted
- Most flexible form of childcare, if you work outside a 9-5 role this may be the best option for you
- One to one tailored childcare which you can help structure
- Can look after siblings, especially helpful if one child is at school and the other is not
- Will often do light housework
- You will need to be registered as the nanny’s employer. This means that you have the same legal responsibilities as any other employer. i.e. paying their tax and NI, setting up a workplace pension (Automatic Enrolment) and providing a contract (Don’t panic, we can do all of this for you)
- No back up childcare so you will need to arrange other forms of childcare if your nanny is ill or on holiday
Childminders are self-employed and look after children in their own home. They usually care for several children from various families at one time and set their own fees and terms and conditions.
Cost: approximately £200 per week for full time care.
Location: Childminder’s home.
Hours and Flexibility: Usually agreed hours from 8-6, can be flexible with pick up and drop off times but parents are usually expected to stick to the agreed times.
Qualifications: Must be registered with an appropriate authority i.e. Ofsted and will be regularly inspected. A childminder must also have a paediatric first aid certificate, and go on a short course that covers health and safety, food hygiene and child nutrition.
Financial help available: Yes, if the childminder is registered with a regulatory body.
- Small group of children with varied age range, helping with social interaction skills.
- Can look after siblings, fees will vary.
- Is regulated and inspected by a relevant authority.
- Do not work varied hours and are not very flexible for additional hours.
- Activities are organised by the childminder so you will have less input to what they do, unlike a nanny, and may be less structed than a nursery.
- May not work bank holidays and school holidays so alternative cover will need to be arranged.
Nurseries are usually for children from six weeks old up to the age of 5 before they start school. Children can attend a part time or a full-time basis and costs will vary depending on the type of nursery.
Cost: Approximately £220 per week for full time care.
Location: In a registered nursery.
Hours and Flexibility: Fixed hours and parents will need to choose either full time or part time. Nurseries have set open and close times so they are not very flexible.
Qualifications: Must be registered with a regulatory body. At least half of the staff must hold a valid qualification level 2 and above.
Financial help available: Yes, if the nursery is registered with a regulatory body i.e. Ofsted.
- Variety of activities for children to do which will stimulate learning and social interaction.
- No need for emergency childcare if staff are ill as there are several staff in a nursery.
- All nurseries are inspected every 2-3 years by their relevant regulatory body.
- Not for children over the age of 5, so if you need afterschool care for your child this is not an option for you.
- High child to carer ratios so they will receive less tailored care to your child’s needs.
- Can be a long waiting list to join a nursery so it must be planned well in advance.
- Fixed monthly fees, if you child is ill or does not attend the nursery one day, you will still be billed for the whole month.
- Extremely inflexible due to opening and closing times of the nursery.