Advanced search

This topic is for discussing childcare options. If you want to advertise, please use your Local site.

Childminders, how far in advance would you take a reservation for a place (baby)?

(19 Posts)
sleepyhead Mon 19-Nov-12 15:55:09

Background: dc2 is due at the beginning of April 2013. When ds was born I left it quite late to get childcare (I work 3 days a week) and my first choice nurseries had huge waiting lists which meant I had to go for somewhere not so good (although ds was happy there).

This time around I was thinking of taking a leaf out of the book of my more organised friends and trying to sort childcare before the baby's born (depressing but practical). Dc2 would start childcare from 12 months.

If I reserve a place in the next 2 or 3 months then I can probably choose the nursery, but there's a mum at ds's school who is a childminder and who I would be more than happy to leave a baby with. I think she'd be a really good option (there are very few childminders in my area and she lives quite close by.)

My question is, would a childminder be interested in filling a place that far in advance? I guess because she has fewer places to fill (particularly for babies - dc would be 1yr) then by filling a place over a year before the child starts she would potentially have to turn someone else away who had a child who could start sooner.

Also, I read a lot on here about people considering giving up childminding. There would be nothing to stop this minder deciding to give up next summer if her situation changed and I'd be back in the same position re: nurseries as last time.

What's a usual length of time before needing your services for parents to reserve a place? Do you charge a retainer for the intervening time rather than the deposit a nursery would take?

littleoldme Mon 19-Nov-12 16:13:42

I've just had an enquiry for next Sept. if when I meet the parents I feel confident that they are committed I will be happy to keep a place for them. I would charge a deposit of about £100 deductible from
The first months fees.

That said, all my minders start school in Sept so I'm keen to get my places filled.

poopnscoop Mon 19-Nov-12 16:15:12

I have children booked for Sept 2013 (when I know other children will go on to school), and one for 2014 already (unborn as yet!). Never too early... but depends on what demand there is in your area.

Italiana Mon 19-Nov-12 16:53:36

A retainer guarantees a place and the c/m is legally bound to keep it for the parents and should be in the contract....if not she has to repay it
You should not pay a retainer unless you have a contract with a 'start date' and date when the retainer is due and how long

A retainer is not refundable but gives the c/m some income while the space is open for a child
I would not accept a retainer longer than 3 months unless the parents were adamant they wanted to pay for longer
If a parent changes her mind while paying the retainer c/ms do not have to pay it back, again this should be in the contract

A retainer is half the fee a c/m could earn if she wanted to fill that space and it should only be paid when the space 'becomes available' and, unless the rules have changed, never paid until a baby is born for ethical reasons...someone may want to add to this?

If you charge a deposit and then refund it it is your choice but you will have lost income for that period, no set rules really but should all be legal and clear

sleepyhead Mon 19-Nov-12 22:06:03

Thanks all.

I guess the sensible thing is to speak to her and see what she thinks. Unfortunately the timing won't work well for children moving on to school as we would need someone from April 2014 and our schools don't go back until August.

We couldn't afford to pay a retainer with one of us on parental leave and it's a worry if a deposit could be returned if she changed her mind or decided to give up childminding or moved away but I guess that's the risk.

I don't think she's full at the moment, but it's not usual for people to use childminders round here - all tenement flats so no gardens and I think people prefer to use nurseries with outside space. Doesn't bother me though as it would just reflect our home situation and we have a park within 5 minutes walk which I see her in all the time.

minderjinx Tue 20-Nov-12 06:09:38

Hello Italiana, Sleepyhead - just wanted to add that retainers don't have to be half fees, though that does seem to be the common arangement, and also that although it is quite commonly advised not to enter into any sort of agreement in respect of an unborn child, it is possible (and evidently schools and nurseries do just that). The problem is that obviously nobody wants to think about what happens if the pregnancy does not end happily, or if the parents simply feel differently about their childcare needs once the child is born. A CM may find it difficult to take the financial loss if a family backs out, however good their reasons, so unborn children represent a big risk to her income. Plus of course many parents baulk at paying a retainer which they see as money for nothing, whereas from the CM's perspective it is commiting to being paid only half fees for a long period during which she could have a family coming along and wanting a place immediately at full fees. The better option from her perspective and yours might be to offer a sizeable non-refundable deposit to secure the place (by which I mean refundable only if she is unable to offer the place when due), which unlike a retainer would leave her free to fill the space in the interim with short term work such as holiday cover for fellow Cms or nannies.

Italiana Tue 20-Nov-12 21:07:46

Good points Minderjinx. You are right retainers can be the full fee if that is what the c/m wants and parents pay happily??
Can't remember where I was told about the ethics of taking retainers for an unborn child (training probably?)...I must get refreshed on that

Flisspaps Tue 20-Nov-12 21:17:59

IIRC Italiana, NCMA advise that you don't take a retainer for an unborn child, and it's in their factsheet here

I won't even make arrangements to meet with parents until the child is born - I could get a paying customer in next week, parents may feel differently about returning to work when the child is born, their employment situation could change drastically in the period until the retainer is to be paid (and I could turn away business in the meantime)

GrimAndHumourless Tue 20-Nov-12 21:21:06

yes was going to say a big no to unborn child per Fliss' link

Italiana Tue 20-Nov-12 21:27:15

Ah that is where I got the information from, page 5 is what I was referring to
Thank you

Italiana Tue 20-Nov-12 21:31:30

Apologies if I gave the impression I take a retainer for unborn children...I do not

I do, however, when parents pay me 1/2 retainer (has rarely happened) make sure they know they can top up to the full fee if they want a day or 1/2 day care to have some time to themselves, go shopping or get their hair done
Works wonders!

poopnscoop Tue 20-Nov-12 21:49:10

I would never consider a retainer for anything longer than 3 months, same as Italiana.

And for an unborn child? Not an option in my books. I have a baby 'booked' for 2014 (will be 1 then).. Parents have a child with me already. So I'd ensure I had a vacancy for sibling no. 2.

Re schools... Parents put their children's names down before the birth oftentimes... Surely they wouldn't have to pay a deposit/retainer for said baby? I know some nurseries charge £50 for someone to put their child on their waiting list.

HSMM Tue 20-Nov-12 21:52:58

I have met with parents before their baby is born, but I do not get deposits or draw up contracts until afterwards. I am taking deposits now for September and this term I had a space offered to start in January. Didn't need retainers, because the spaces weren't available before the start dates.

Italiana Tue 20-Nov-12 22:09:37

What would do you in this situation?
You care for toddler, when sibling is born mum ends contract but says she will be back with the two of them in 6 months' time!!!

sleepyhead Tue 20-Nov-12 22:11:24

Thanks all.

Given our experiences last time I think I'm coming to the conclusion that we won't be able to risk leaving it so long again and that this long a period in advance won't work for a childminder.

There's just not enough quality childcare available here to rely on the CM having a place, and then if she doesn't we find that there are huge waiting lists again at all the good nurseries.

I've no experience with CMs (there was literally noone close enough to us when ds was born) so I really appreciate your input.

Italiana Tue 20-Nov-12 22:18:31

Good luck...which area are you looking for a c/m?
Poopnscoop would you consider looking after 4 under 5 for continuity? there is always that option for those who are capable and have the resources and skills

poopnscoop Wed 21-Nov-12 08:37:09

Italiana, I have often looked after 4 under 5, siblings... currently do a couple days a week.

I have the necessary resources and the ability (used to teach in a class with over 20 children and one assistant in this age group - in another country). Need to ensure I am able to get out and about with them all/do fire drills etc. (risk assess).. thankfully I have a common, 2 parks, post office, fruit n veg etc. all close by... so the older little legs can easily walk locally... I don't have any older children (over 3)/do school runs. I also have a masssssive garden with loads to do... so staying in is a lovely option too smile

poopnscoop Wed 21-Nov-12 08:49:21

I hope you manage to sort something out Sleepyhead.

minderjinx Wed 21-Nov-12 10:24:39

Italiana, regarding "What would do you in this situation? You care for toddler, when sibling is born mum ends contract but says she will be back with the two of them in 6 months' time!!!", I have had this happen several times. I'd suggest they keep the toddler with me if only for a day or two a week as that would give me more flexibility to take the baby sibling as an extra under five until a space came free if it came to that, but if they couldn't do that they would have to take their chances on two spaces being available when they wanted them (which would be unlikely) or be prepared to wait. But I have also had a baby sibling take their older sibling's place when the older one went to school or preschool. It can work out quite well if you plan the timing of your new arrivals with military precision!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now