Thinking well ahead here, but grateful for advice. - I'm currently on mat leave, and planning to go back to work in January 2016. Dc1 starts school in sept 2015 (just applied for places), so I'll do the school run myself for the first few months. But then when I go back to work, I'll need wrap around care for dc1 probably three days a week, and daycare for dc2 who'll have just turned 1. I think a childminder will be the best solution, but worrying that if I don't get one from sept when dc1 starts school, I'll struggle to find one. Anyone had any luck finding childminders after September? When should I start to look /panic? (Obviously not yet!!) SE London if that makes a difference
I think you're right to be concerned about not fixing it up for September - most children only leave childminders or nurseries in September, so that is when most places come up. I'd probably start asking around in the early spring and be prepared to pay at least part time from September unless you can find one who will promise to hold you a place til January. Wrap around care for a school aged child isn't so hard to find, where I live at least.
I agree with purpleroses. September is the best time to find a space. You might find someone who is happy to sign contracts for January, or ask you to pay a retainer until January, or is happy just to do some settling in days between Sep-Jan.
September is undoubtedly the most common time for places to become free, due not only to children starting school but to a lot of families with children at school often trying to time job or house moves to fall during the summer break. That said, people do move house or go on maternity leave at any time in the year, so all is not lost if you cannot hit that September target, and of course there could be new childminders starting at all times of the year.