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'Unqualified' childcare and informal arrangements

(30 Posts)
ScarletFedora Mon 24-Mar-14 17:28:58

I'm currently on maternity leave with DC2 and trying to work out how much I need to earn for it to be financially worth going back to work while paying for childcare for both children (when I plan to return DC1 will be 2.5 and DC2 just over 1).

I currently have an amazing childminder for DC1 and would like both to go to her. For two kids to go three days per week it will cost £1500 per month! I'm in a pricey part of SE England and nursery and childminder fees are the same. I could use a nanny I supposed, but I prefer the children going out of the house to a very social setting.

I was discussing the problem with DH in front of MIL, and she said we should get an au pair or 'just find a local girl in the village who can come in and look after them'. She went on to explain that she returned to work after 12 weeks with both her DCs - an 18 year old au pair came in for DH, and a few years later BIL 'went to the neighbour'. Neither had any formal childcare qualifications although the neighbour had a few children of her own who she cared for at the same time. MIL was flabbergasted we'd consider paying that much for childcare. DH and I both agreed that we'd be unhappy with someone unqualified and unregistered to care for two such young children. According to MIL this makes us incredibly PFB...but anyway...

It got me thinking. Although we wouldn't consider it for our kids, I wondered if others had these kind of 'informal' arrangements in place for regular childcare with people who aren't relatives (clearly close family doing childcare is something different) and how they work. I'm talking 8-10 hours per day, 3-5 days per week, rather than babysitting.

NomDeClavier Mon 24-Mar-14 17:31:45

Well that amount isn't informal. If it's their home they need to be registered and if it's in yours you need to employ them. Times and regulations have moved on

Forgettable Mon 24-Mar-14 17:36:09

What Nom said

Reciprocal agreements with no money changing hands could work but please do read the rules and regs carefully

ScarletFedora Mon 24-Mar-14 18:09:19

Thanks Nom, that's what I thought. I did tell MIL I didn't think it was even legal anymore to do what she did for her DCs (she paid both cash in hand, no contract of any kind). Forgettable, I'm not considering it (I love the CM and think she's fab and worth every penny) but don't have much experience in these matters so wondered if these arrangements were still happening 'under the radar' as it were.

TheArticFunky Mon 24-Mar-14 18:26:12

It is common I know lots of people who are paying their friends to look after their children. I wouldn't do it personally however I can understand why people do. Most people can't afford to pay £1500 per month on childcare.

Beccadugs Mon 24-Mar-14 18:28:52

I am considering hiring a childcare student to babysit for tiny DD. This would be quite informal although I will be in the house teaching while this happens so quite different I guess.

ScarletFedora Mon 24-Mar-14 18:32:17

Arctic, I can certainly imagine why people do! I can't really afford £1500 per month TBH, I'd hardly be bringing anything home. A close friend or family member would be one thing, I was a bit confused that MIL thought it would be OK to look for a local student (one of her suggestions) to provide cut price childcare!

ScarletFedora Mon 24-Mar-14 18:35:12

Cross post Becca. I think that's different as you'd be there and he or she'd be on her way to being trained. I'm out 12 hours p/d some days.

Thebluedog Mon 24-Mar-14 18:37:14

Isn't it illegal to get paid for looking after children if you aren't ofsted registered?

Beccadugs Mon 24-Mar-14 18:42:39

I agree Scarlet! It's only gong to work for us as I work outside school (and college) hours from home.
Any emergency and I'll be there so much less pressure for everyone!

Cindy34 Mon 24-Mar-14 18:52:47

Not illegal if they are providing care in the home of the child. They would be a nanny, so if a regular arrangement then they would be an employee. So various employment law things kick in.

AuPair / Live in Nanny is probably lowest cost option, though there are costs such as providing then with accommodation 24/7, food. You may get lucky and find someone who has experience and childcare training in their home country. Would you want someone living with you 24/7 though?

NannyLouise29 Mon 24-Mar-14 18:54:10

thebluedog - no, it's not compulsory to be OFSTED registered to be a nanny, however some parents using childcare vouchers do make a saving if the nanny is registered.

As far as childminders and nurseries go then yes, the should be registered and inspected by OFSTED.

ScarletFedora Mon 24-Mar-14 18:59:38

We don't have a spare room or enough space in general for another adult to live here so not an option. I understood from previous threads (perhaps wrongly?) that you could not ask an au pair to do full time (or almost full time) childcare for young children if there is no parent in the house? Basically as with what they are paid it ends up being pence per hour?

Cindy34 Mon 24-Mar-14 19:06:47

Pay rate would need to be reasonable but due to being live-in and mostly in the country to study, working hours may not be that long. Some aupairs are qualified teachers back in their home country, so it depends on the individual.

A young person with no experience, lack of English language, is not suitable for caring for very young children, but not all aupairs are that... Some these days are older and do have experience but quite good language skills in a variety of languages.

However sounds like it is not an option for you, as no space for an additional adult in the house.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 24-Mar-14 23:34:39

It may be worth looking at employing a nanny - once you have 2 children esp if under 5 then childcare costs equal out a bit more as nannies charge per family and not child compared to paying one set of fees

And what your mil is suggesting is illegal
Now as nom said times have changed smile

splasheeny Tue 25-Mar-14 00:09:41

I have heard of the story of 2 police women who babysat each others children (reciprocal agreement so no money changed hands), ofsted intervened rather unnecessarily, but they have now said I believe that these arrangements are permissible.

Another mum I know through nursery has her au pair look after her baby from 8am-6pm each day, and do wrap around care for the older child. Not sure when the au pair gets to study..

Au pairs aren't recommended for babies too, and it is only reasonable to have an au pair I think if they have time to study.

If you are asking a randomer to look after your child for peanuts in their home then I would worry about the quality of the care.

Mimishimi Tue 25-Mar-14 04:39:32

That was in the days when a lot more women were at home to provide this sort of informal care though. I imagine it would be a lot harder nowadays to find a neighbour who would provide full-time care for less than a childminder even if it was legal. I know I certainly wouldn't. The 'girls from the village' don't exist anymore.

Mimishimi Tue 25-Mar-14 04:41:14

However I think doing recprocal care with a part-time worker who works on the days you have off could be an excellent money saving idea. If you did it at each other's homes it wouldn't be illgal would it?

Mutley77 Tue 25-Mar-14 05:21:04

Personally I think that kind of arrangement is perfectly reasonable if you are happy with the person providing the care. For example I have an older next door neighbour who is a mother of 4 grown up children and if she offered to have my baby DD a couple of days a week I would bite her hand off (I'm not currently working but if I go back to work I might hint that I would like that arrangement and see if she shows interest, she loves babies and regularly looks after her grandchildren)!! Similarly my childminder's teenage daughter used to babysit my kids and sometimes that involved having them from 5pm (when the childminder finished), brought them home did tea and bed for them. We did discuss her doing more regular care for them but we moved away so it wasn't relevant.

I think you have to be very lucky these days and in the right place at the right time for that kind of arrangement to be available but I certainly wouldn't write it off for the sake of a lack of qualification. Many childminders don't have significant qualifications (not that I think they need them) and many nursery workers don't have experience of looking after their own kids as they are often younger IME, so it's all swings and roundabouts. I think it is just about being flexible and open to different options - and trusting yourself as a mum to make an appropriate risk assessment and the best choice for your DC.

If you did find a neighbour for example who might do it you could always offer to pay for their registration as a childminder, it's not too arduous.

Mutley77 Tue 25-Mar-14 05:21:33

BTW if you're happy with your childminder for both kids I don't see that there is an issue anyway - you don't need to look for an alternative?

CharityCase Tue 25-Mar-14 05:53:31

To give a different perspective, I live in an Asian country with basically no nursery provision at all ( except for v low income families who would otherwise just park a pre-schooler in front of the TV and head off to work anyway). Therefore, unless you can afford a nanny, your remaining childcare option is an unqualified 'helper' who has to live in your home. Results vary, but generally it works out ok. They are not educators, but most are competent at basic childcare. Most people here actually find that the system only starts breaking down when their kids are older and need more input/ help resolving personal issues and with homework- ' little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems' and all that.

I'm not endorsing anyone breaking the law in the UK btw- just saying that unqualified doesn't necessarily mean bad/ dangerous.

Therewere5inthebed Tue 25-Mar-14 13:18:18

Mutley77, I totally disagree that childminding and registration is 'not too arduous' in order to comply with Ofsted regulations childminders are required to educate children, not just babysit them, the volume of paperwork required if frankly ridiculous and very time consuming.

Mutley77 Tue 25-Mar-14 13:33:55

I agree that what is required is ridiculous and time consuming but it doesn't need any qualification. Educating children is best done by someone who can respond to their needs (i.e. their parent or someone else who cares about their welfare) - if you can write that down you can be a childminder. I have several friends who have done this and my childminder certainly did the bare minimum of paperwork to meet the requirements (which is why I chose her, I didn't want someone focussed on my 2 year old's "education"!!!).

ScarletFedora Tue 25-Mar-14 14:10:22

Thanks all for your replies. Mutley I'm not considering this option - if I'm totally honest my MIL is being a PITA about it and I wanted to find out from the MN experts what the legal position is so I can tell her definitively that we can't do what she did so she lets it drop... My CM is amazing but £1500 is a huge amount of money for three days per week. It's a choice between going back to work and sending them to her, or staying at home for another couple of years TBH. When they are older and less demanding (only needing wrap around for example) I can imagine an au pair type arrangement could work.

LyndaCartersBigPants Tue 25-Mar-14 14:35:01

Mutley it has taken me bloody months of study and red tape to get qualified to look after my friend's DCs, even though they are over 5 so no early years stuff.

I had to complete a course which was 10 weeks at college, involving online tutorials and various bits of written coursework, contributing to forum discussions about child safety and writing up policies and procedures. I had to attend a paediatric first aid course over 3 days.

There are applications for DBS checks (I have been waiting over 2 months for this to be returned, despite many chasing calls) and applications to voucher companies etc.

All of this has cost me several hundred pounds and, despite me being a reasonably intelligent and well-educated person, it wasn't easy or straight-forward and involved many calls to OFSTED, Pacey and other professional bodies to try and find out the relevant information.

If my friend was telling people that getting me registered as a childminder was just a formality and no arduous task, I'd tell her to piss off!

Scarlet if you are able to pay into a pre-tax voucher scheme and/or get tax credits then paying the £4-5 per hour for a properly registered CM could be cheaper than the alternative e.g if you can get vouchers and you are a 40% tax payer, the £4 only actually costs you £2.40, as the other £1.60 would have gone on tax anyway.

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