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Would you choose childminder over funding or viceversa?

(15 Posts)
stickygotstuck Tue 04-Oct-11 14:25:31

I know most of you will think it depends on how much we need the money, but please bear with me. I am looking for 'personal' opinions of the gut-feeling type. The logical pros-versus-cons approach is not helping!

My DD will be 3 in December, and will be eligible for Early Years funding, which we really could do with at the moment. Here are the facts:

- She does 1 day/wk at playgroup
- She does at least 1 day at childminder's, sometimes 2 days (even 3 occasionally and 1 afternoon pickup from playgroup. I am SE so it depends on my workload and flexibility is key)
- She also goes to CM 2 days (or more) at half term and holidays as playgroup is closed then.
- DD loves both. So do I.

Trouble is our childminder is not accredited to receive EY funding (and I can't bear the thought of losing her sad. She is very good, very flexible, and DD has been with her since she was 6 months old).

I have two questions for all you childminders out there:

- Would you be happy to have DD only at half term and holidays, plus the odd extra 2 or 3 full days a month? Would you feel put out at all, or do you find it's common when EY funding comes along?
- Would you consider going through the hassle of becoming accredited for the amount of business we provide regularly?

And one question for parents:

- Would you choose to 'lose out' on half of your funding entitlement to keep a very good CM, or would you let your CM go to take advantage of the funding? At the moment we are just managing the cost and we would get the playgroup bit paid for when funding kicks in in January. Unfortunately, that's the smaller bill sad.

I have applied for a place at the local school nursery too but they only do a 3 hour morning session (not a great help for me with work, but has the advantage of DD (and I!) getting to know her future school and classmates). Am considering taking her to all three places then (playgroup and nursery once a week each, plus CM at half term and hols).

This has been going round and round in my head for several days now. I am seriously the OCD type so I need to make a decision or I do think my head will explode like a ripe melon sometime between now and tomorrow morning.

Thanks all!

cat64 Tue 04-Oct-11 14:30:04

Message withdrawn

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Tue 04-Oct-11 14:31:28

I'm a cm and am not accredited so understand your pov from both sides.
I would be happy to have a school holiday contract as I have term-time only contracts and combined I would be full but for only one place iykwim. The extra days would have to be on an ad hoc basis and that's only if the space is there and not guaranteed.

I think sharing the care of your dd between 3 places would be quite difficult to manage. If you are offered nursery for 5 mornings a week then sharing the care between there and your cm might be the best plan. It would give your cm regular hours too which is important.

Good luck figuring it all out, it can be very stressful!

squinker45 Tue 04-Oct-11 14:40:37

It's not worth getting accredited here any more as the course you need to do is no longer fully funded. Even with part funding it costs over £1000, and after that the hourly rate isn't as much as what most people charge.
Some people would be happy with just the holidays, especially those with term time only contracts for some children.

stickygotstuck Tue 04-Oct-11 14:51:50

Thank you cat64 and Squishy.

cat64, you are absolutely right the flexibility is just sooo important for me.

The school nursery is a sort of compromise. The idea behind that is to take advantage of some more of the funding. That way I would get 3 sessions a week paid for (2 at current playgroup and 1 at new nursery) and that way we would only loose out on 2 sessions. If that makes sense.

Sorry, I forgot to explain I work from home 2 fixed days a week, and sometimes more (those are the extra ad hoc days my lovely CM does). Out of those 2 fixed days, DD's playgroup stops at 3.30, and then CM or I pick DD up, depending on how busy I am.

When DD goes to school, life will be easier (I hope and so long as I am still SE)! I can pick her up myself during term time as I won't do 9 to 5, 5-day a week hours.

stickygotstuck Tue 04-Oct-11 14:57:03

Thanks squinker45. that's what I thought - sadly!

I just don't understand why a CM who is already inspected by Ofsted and does all that paperwork etc needs to do something ELSE to get funding. I know it's to do with the educational element of the care but still...

Good to know both you and Squisky think CM may be happy with hols contact.

I'll have to have another chat with her I think.

HSMM Tue 04-Oct-11 14:58:00

I did a holiday only contract so a much loved minded could take up a funded place. I didn't manage to find a term time only mindee, so I lost a lot of income as I could have replaced her with a child who needed a space all year. I did not give notice,due to the long and good relationship I have with the family.

stickygotstuck Tue 04-Oct-11 15:10:14

HSMM, sorry to hear you were left so out of pocket. Those are my thoughts exactly - I wouldn't want to see my CM in the same situation.

Although I must admit, your post has actually got me a bit tearful blush. I often marvel at the 'other life' my DD has with her CM and her family, with me mostly unaware of it!

minderjinx Tue 04-Oct-11 16:04:47

I have (and have had) children who reached three and cut their days to take advantage of their government funding. They have each then done two or three full days with me and taken up morning and afternoon sessions on the same days at the local pre-school to get their free twelve or recently fifteen hours worth. I'd much rather have the children all day than be tied to pre-school pick ups, and of course it then means I can find another child to fill the days freed up - very difficult to do with scraps of part days. I am actually accredited to accept govt funded children but it's simply not worth doing for a whole variety of reasons.

I would offer care on an ad hoc basis if I had a space in the holidays but I wouldn't be willing or able to guarantee it as it might well mean turning away someone who wanted year round care.

stickygotstuck Tue 04-Oct-11 16:19:02

Thanks for your input minderjinx.

When you (minderjinx and everybody else) offer ad-hoc care, does it make it any easier if the parent is also flexible on what days they need?

In my case for instance, I may need 2 or 3 days a week during half term, but it doesn't really matter which days, so you could pick them yourself. Would that make it more likely that you could accommodate DD?

HSMM Tue 04-Oct-11 17:59:37

Yes. Being able to choose the days would be better. Also once your child starts full time School they go into a different age bracket and free up space for a little one (which my holiday only mindee has now done)

Ripeberry Tue 04-Oct-11 18:06:39

I'm a CM and one child that I've had since a small baby now goes to a pre-school twice a week for 3.5hrs at a time, but I don't charge the parent as I'm term-time only.
I'm not accredited and in my county it can take a couple of years to do it and you have to have an NVQ3.
Depends on each individual CM what they charge at the end of the day.

minderjinx Tue 04-Oct-11 18:43:13

The way I work in the holidays (and everyone else may be different) is that I draw up a plan of outings and activities for the whole of the week(s) based on my "regular" children's interests etc. I only take children for full days in the holidays incidentally, as it would not be practical to pop back from the beach or the zoo to pick up a latecomer!

If I have any spare spaces within my registration numbers (and often just as importantly spare seats in my car) I will take ad hoc bookings on a first come first served basis. So yes, if you didn't mind which days, there would clearly be a greater chance of matching your requirements to my availability.

But because I have lots of children part-time in different combinations on different days, if they all wanted to come full time in the holidays I couldn't do it. It hasn't been a problem yet, as families with older children at school obviously need to take family holidays when school is out. But if it did get tight, I think I would have to honour any requests for extra sessions from "regular" children before taking on any "occasional" children.

ChildrenAtHeart Tue 04-Oct-11 18:46:01

I may be putting a spanner in the works here, and then again it may partly solve your dilemma - in West Sussex (and I'm pretty sure this is part of the terms of the revised Code of Practice for free entitlement in which case it will apply in all counties) if a child attends a school/LEA run preschool/nursery all their funding gets allocated there ans cannot be shared with another setting.
If this is indeed the case then having a CM willing to pick up from there a couple of afternoons would be your best option, although some CM's would also charge you for the morning, especially if you need full days in the holidays, as it is hard to fill the short morning space. BUT this does vary from CM to CM as some are more flexible than others, and depends on their existing commitments.
For your CM to become accredited & share care with the other pre-school she would need to be a member of an accredited Childminding Network. Membership criteria varies regionally but commonly having or working towards a Level 3 qualification and having a Good or Outstanding Ofsted grade are standard. There is an initial assessment/quality insurance process at the start & normally some kind of annual review but not always any more paperwork than CM's usually do though again this does vary from area to area.
I would agree with the others, though as a CM I am obviously biased, that a good, well loved, flexible CM is worth her weight in gold and I would do everything I could to retain her. I also wouldn't go with 3 settings - you'll all be exhausted and confused! Have you discussed your options with the CM? It is probably worth finding out what she would/would not be willing to do before presenting her with a decision she can't accomodate.

stickygotstuck Fri 07-Oct-11 10:55:39

Thank you all for your comments.

Sorry I've disappeared for a couple of days - I've had no Internet connection for two days (can you imagine that??)

ChildrenAtHeart, I think you are absolutely right, I must talk to her and ask what she would and wouldn't do. It's just that I need to have all the possible options clear in my head before I approach her. Then we can decide together what would work best for both of us.

And I totally agree, a good and flexible childminder is just so important. Luckily, both DD and I think her nursery is great too - which is precisely why it's so hard to make up my mind on this whole thing!

Luckily, here you can split funding between more than one setting (and in the ideal world, this would be a combo of our current nursery and CM. But I see from everybody's comments it's too much to ask of her).

Good to know some of you think being able to choose your days would help.

I am concerned about the 3 settings option too. In fact, I think I have pretty much decided to defer her place at the local school nursery (if she's offered it for Jan) until Sept and then think again. I have spoken to the school and they say that would be fine.

Looking at finances, I think we may have to take up 4 of the 5 'free' sessions, making that 2 full nursery days (at least until next Sept). Because the 'full day' ends at 3.30 (it's in fact a playgroup), I will then ask CM to do one day a week too, increasing to 2-3 in hols/half term. So income-wise she would only loose the one after-school pickup a week she does for us at the moment.

The difference is, I currently ask her to do an extra 2-3 days a month when needed, which will now be covered by the nursery.

How does that sound to you all?

I still need to mull this over, to see how it would fit with my work, and then talk to CM. I did ask her a couple of weeks ago how the funding issue worked with previous mindees and I understood from what she said that hols and half terms only would be an option for us. So I AM hopeful.

Thanks again.

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