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waiting for a place

(33 Posts)
mogwai Sun 14-Aug-05 00:19:42

I am considering an ofsted-registered childminder for my DD when I go back to work in february. She will be seven months old at the time.

I have met a childminder who is willing to keep a place open for me. She initially said I would need to pay a retainer, which is reasonable, obviously, but it turns out that the retainer is a full months childcare costs - ie, I will be paying as though my child was in attendance.

If I am to pay for my child to be in attendance for the next five months (almost £1600), even though she will be at home with me, I think I ought to be able to leave her with the childminder for a few hours on the days I am paying for, so that I can get some housework done, or whatever. It hadn't been my intention to leave her with a childminder before february, but I think I should have this option if I am paying for the place.

However, the childminder will not take children below the age of 6 months. Apparently, she once looked after a child who had colic, which was problematic.

I'm not sure whether it is standard practice for a childminder to charge full costs to retain a place, and I feel concerned that she is happy to take the money every month, yet will not look after my DD on the days I am paying for.

Any thoughts??

ThePrisoner Sun 14-Aug-05 01:47:29

If she charges a retainer, then the place ought to be available should you wish to use it. Childminders can charge whatever they want as a retainer, although I don't know many who would charge the full fee. If the space is not available (because she doesn't want small babies for instance), then I think she is being a bit unfair.

If I have space available before the day a baby should start, I would usually suggest some trial hours/days (whatever parents want) to get both of us used to each other. I would also charge my normal rate for this.

jabberwocky Sun 14-Aug-05 02:23:56

OMG mogwai, you mean you would have to pay for care for five months before you even leave your child the first time? What if you decided you didn't care for the childminder after the first few weeks and went somewhere else? Is this your only option?

HellyBelly Sun 14-Aug-05 08:04:20

It does seem a bit much but I'm not sure what other childminders do. I recently had a lady wanting to start in January and I told her that I can save a space but if I had a call which could mean me starting sooner, I would then call her to let her know and see if she would pay me to keep the space free for her. I probably wouldn't ask for the whole lot, maybe half (first request for advance booking). I would however definitely take the child when needed (although would require full fee for this).

Hope you manage to sort something out.

p.s. I suppose it also depends on where you live and how many childminders are in your area? I live in a part of Reading where there's less than 10 but I have another friend at the other end of town who has around 70 in her area. Obviously they can ask for more if there's a shortage of minders as people will pay to know they have a space. HTH

dorset Sun 14-Aug-05 09:59:35

Hi, i charge half fee as a retainer and have the place open for when the parent wishes to use it. If a retainer is being charged NCMA suggests that the childminding service must always be available during the retainer period. full fee charged if the place is used. Is the place available now? if not a deposit should be paid.

ayla99 Sun 14-Aug-05 10:23:40

I've seen retainer rates from £15 weekly to 2/3 fees (1/2 rates is more usual) but I don't know any childminder who would charge full fees when the place can't be used.

However, although the place is not immediately available to you it is available to older children - she will still have to turn others away (who might have wanted more hours per week) to hold your place for you.

feelingold Sun 14-Aug-05 10:45:03

I am also a childminder and I would charge 1/2 rate for a retainer and my understanding was that if you are receiving a retainer from a parent you must be available to have the child eg can't be charged if you are on holiday etc. I would say to her that if she is not prepared to take your baby during this period then you are only prepared to pay 1/2 fee or look for another childminder. If the 2 of you can not work things out now I would be worried about working things out in the future. Obviously this is just my opinion but I think that the full fee is a bit excessive when she isn't prepared to have your baby.

HellyBelly Sun 14-Aug-05 10:53:32

I agree!

mogwai Sun 14-Aug-05 14:06:09

thanks for your thoughts, this is all very useful, I'll think about what you have said. The full fee will be hard for us to find with me on maternity pay.

It's not my only option, no, but she does seem good and comes highly recommended. I had the baby's name down for a nursery place, had put her name down when I was 6 wks pregnant and telephoned the nursery every month, but it turns out they will not have a place for her until she is two years old! This was a bit of a nasty shock - they didn't mention this to me when I phoned them every month

I would have been happy with the nursery in question, but have not found another one I like. I might look for other childminders if this turns out to be a non-starter. Where would I find a list of them, you know, ones who have places available?

HellyBelly Sun 14-Aug-05 15:02:46

You can call your local Childrens Information Service for a full list but most of the details are on the net - childcarelink

The only ones not listed are the minders who don't want their details shown on the internet.


feelingold Sun 14-Aug-05 16:46:40

I would definitely look on the link hellybelly has given you, just put in your town and a list will come up and give some of them a ring. I certainly would speak to and go and see a few more before committing to paying out such a huge amount of money. You may find another childminder who you like better as well as save yourself some money at the time you need it most.
Good luck and I hope you find someone really nice.

Twiglett Sun 14-Aug-05 16:48:52

do you mean she wants ONE month's pay for a retainer for 5 months? or she wants full pay across the 5 months .. if the former then I think its fair, if the latter then I wouldn't go with it

LIZS Sun 14-Aug-05 16:56:13

As she wouldn't consider taking her until she's 6 months old anyway then I wouldn't think it reasonable for her to charge as if she would in the meantime. Perhaps it could be argued for the month before she actually starts but even so I would have thought only a proportion/deposit reasonable unless you actually used the space. Does she have an under 1 already attending ? I think she can only have one at a time unless she has special terms so if that clashes with your dd's time she could be charging twice for the one space.

mogwai Tue 16-Aug-05 08:20:08

thanks again

yes, she wants to charge me full time for five months. I'm going to see her tomorrow so will let you know how it goes

And thanks for the link, I'll look at it now

HellyBelly Tue 16-Aug-05 08:21:35

Good Luck

mogwai Tue 16-Aug-05 08:36:14


there's loads of them. Don't know where to begin really.

Worryingly, one of the women on the list for my local area was the head of English at my high school. She has retired now. She is an absolute horror, used to hang outside the staffroom smoking, always reeeeeeked of ciggies.

So now she advertises a smoke-free environment. Bet she's out the back sneaking a quick drag. I wouldn't leave a budgie with this woman - seriously. How the heck do I choose one?

HellyBelly Tue 16-Aug-05 09:06:28

Do you mind whether it's a younger or older person?? If you have a preference then you could judge how old by how many years experience.

I've only been registered since May and have heard some stories from the parents about previous older minders who have childminded for years and are no so good. This DOES NOT mean in general older or more experienced are not good, not at all, just things people have said about newer minders being fresh and really wanted to do things well.

Oh, I really don't know how to help, just thought I'd tell you some thoughts from other parents I have!

You could also ring your local CIS (number should be on website) and tell them certain things you want from your minder, where they live etc etc. and they will give you details to make your list shorter IFSWIM.

Good luck!

blodwen Tue 16-Aug-05 09:38:45

Try not to be put off by a long list. At least you should have plenty of choice! As you have a few months, try as many as possible. You will be able to tell from the first phone call, not only if they have a suitable vacancy, but if you like the sound of them (don't be put off if they ask to ring you back - quite common as very busy, and often prefer to talk in the evening when they can concentrate). Visit as many as you can. Explain (on the phone) that you would like to do a preliminary visit just for half an hour at their (and your) convenience, preferably while they have minded children with them. You will be able to tell in this time if they are the right person. Take your baby with you, and see where she feels happy. Good luck.
ps. I agree with the other childminders about the full fee retainer. I would also charge half fees and be more than happy to care for the child in that time.

HellyBelly Tue 16-Aug-05 10:04:50

BTW, have all the minders got vacancies showing? Just in case you didn't know, there is an option of minders with vacancies at the moment so you don't get the ones without. However, this list doesn't mean it's up to date info and it could change by the time you need someone.

Just thought I'd mention it.

ThePrisoner Tue 16-Aug-05 22:54:13

Hey HellyBelly!! I'm an "older" (ish) minder and started doing it after my own children started school. I have also been minding for 12 years.

I just want the world know that I take my job really seriously. I've completed (and passed) the whole CCP course, have taken advantage of many training courses etc., work as a mentor to other new minders, am on our county childminding association and am the local vacancy co-ordinator (that's my cover blown for all the local minders to know who I am!!)

I work long hours, do a guilt trip when I book my two week summer holiday because I know it causes care problems for families, but try to offer a good service.

I would hate to think that anyone would be put off by the fact that I'm over 30 (well, 40 then)!!!

The children aren't frightened of me so long as I keep my false teeth in, don't beat them with my incontinence pads, and I'm as capable of pushing buggies whilst negotiating kerbs with my zimmer frame as anyone else!!

goosey Tue 16-Aug-05 22:59:46

PMSL My ds goes to a childminder just like you and he absolutely THRIVES. I have been minding myself for just 2yrs and am also old and incontinent but am eager and professional and love learning all about child development etc

ThePrisoner Tue 16-Aug-05 23:38:08

How about starting a new thread about old, wrinkly, incontinent childminders ... if only I could remember what it is I wanted to say ... where are my pills ... !!

HellyBelly Wed 17-Aug-05 07:38:57

PMSL at The Prisoner's comments

I'm really really sorry I offended , I don't have much experience with this as you'll know from some other threads and was only commenting on what I've heard from several parents who've been.

I think it must just be some people in our area, unfortunately the ones who do it for the money and not for the love of children give others a bad name I only mentioned that as that's all I had heard from parents.



alibubbles Wed 17-Aug-05 08:01:48

Message withdrawn

HellyBelly Wed 17-Aug-05 08:07:24

Sorry again - you all do a GREAT job and sound LOVELY!!!

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