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Article: Childcare Options For Parents Going Back To Work

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At first, choosing the right childcare can seem daunting especially if your child is still very 
young. There's a lot of different options out there and choosing the right one for yourself and your child isn't always easy.

For many, the cost of childcare can eat up a significant portion of your salary however, some employers may offer subsidised childcare, or be enrolled in a salary sacrifice childcare voucher scheme which can save you up to £1,000 per year in Tax and National Insurance on your wages. So, before you start looking at the options it’s work asking them what help they can provide. Also, families claiming Tax Credits may also be eligible for childcare assistance via the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits which can cover up to 70% of fees.

Childcare: What Type?

One of the best options for parents is to see if relatives can help out. This would ideally be the best solutionas your child is familiar with the person caring for them, the timings are often more flexible and the costs, if any, are very low. Unfortunately, this isn't possible for a lot of families, so other options will need to be considered.

Day Nurseries

Nurseries, although expensive, can offer piece of mind for parents who are looking for childcare for the first time. Most nurseries will be regulated by Ofsted so childcare fees so you may be entitled to claim up to 70% of fees through Working Tax Credits, or if they’re enrolled in a voucher scheme fees may be paid for using vouchers. Plus, key worker staff should be trained to NVQ standards and will have to guide children through the Early Years Foundation Stage in preparation for starting school.

Day nurseries fall under the following regulators:

- England: Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
- Scotland: HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE)
- Wales: Estyn


Childminders are similar to nurseries in that they also have to be registered, some are regulated by Ofsted and a lot will take vouchers. Often they will work out of their own home and are limited to the number of children they can take. Effectively your child will be in a home environment and get more individual attention it also means trips to the park, and days out are still possible! Whilst hourly rates for can vary across the country,
on average you should expect to pay around £3.80 per hour. A full time working week consisting of 9 hour days would therefore cost in the region of £170. Childminders will also have to undergo the same checks and training and should be aware of the Early Years Foundation Stage but may not follow it as strictly as nurseries.

Regulators for childminders are as follows:

- England: Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
- Scotland: Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland
- Wales: Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales

Nannies (live in or out)

If you're able to spend more money, and you really would like your child to stay in their own home with familiar surroundings, a nanny could be considered. A nanny is devoted entirely to your child alone and just like a member of the family can form a close bond with your child. An experienced nanny should receive on average £280-350pw take home pay. Remember though that you will become an employer so you will to work out and pay their taxes and NI on top.

Au Pairs

Employing an au pair is likely to be cheaper than all the previous options for childcare. As they live in your house they only need to be paid pocket money. For a 30hr week, the minimum they need to be paid is £80. Factor in costs such as an extra mouth to feed heating hot water, an extra person to pay for trips out, lunches etc.

No formal qualifications are required to become a nanny or an au pair (although they may have them) but you should carry out a CRB check and ensure they are trained in first aid.

Provided to you by Family Investments. Visit Family Nest for information on available benefits and entitlements including Child Tax Credits & Working Tax Credits.

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