Hi everyone, My son is 14 months and has been with a childminder one day a week and my parents two days a week since October while I finish my degree. My childminder has decided she can no longer care for him for one day (semi retiring) and given me no notice about this, we had a fairly informal arrangement, no formal contract etc although she is a registered childminder. My parents are happy to take him for the extra day in the short term, however I feel that this is far too much to ask of them, particularly as my Mum has a broken arm at the moment but I have no other choice than to accept this but I want it to be for as little time as possible. I want to find my son a nursery place as I feel his is old enough now and this will be better for him than a childminder, however I have no experience of looking for a nursery, don't know what to expect in terms of waiting lists etc or know how to find a quality one. Can anyone help me. My main questions are: How can you judge the quality of a nursery? What should I be looking for? Are there any warning signs that mean I should steer clear? How long will I be waiting for a place? Any other advice or reccomendations, I'm in the LS6 area of Leeds! Thanks
The difficulty is that most people get a place for their little one when they end their maternity leave and generally speaking, keep that place until the child goes to school. There are very few places therefore for slightly older babies and you'll probably end up on a waiting list. The other slight problem is that the good nurseries will almost definitely not have availability - the good ones are over-subscribed so if you do find a place at relatively short notice, I'd question why?! Do you know any mums locally - thats the best way of fiinding out which are good, just word of mouth. Go and visit a few, see how the children behave, whether they all seem happy and engaged, whether they approach the staff for comfort / reassurance, are the staff engaged, hands on and getting involved.
Hi you may also find some nurseries want you to have at least 2 full days as if you have one day that can "block" a full place due to ratios etc. does your local council have a service which sends you out a list of registered child care providers so you could work through that? Council funded settings tend to be a bit more flexible than private day nurseries in my experience as they receive funding and are not run as "business" like as some private ones. Good luck
Amidst all the doom, there is hope however. Reason being in the last few years due to recession etc lots of people may have cut down on places (we have our younger child in nursery - one of our friends have just reduced her days from 4 to 3 due to redundancy...).
I would look around the nurseries that are near you, ask friends... They are also ofsted registered so you can find out what their scores are (although I wouldn't adhere too much to them). I would go with my gut feel. I'd want to speak to the manager and also the room leader of the room that your child would potentially go into. See if there's a general happy feel to the place, smells, food (eg at our nursery there's a kitchen so they prep all food and cook on site..).
I'd happily recommend the busy bees nurseries (don't know if there's one near you... We are in the SE!).