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Online catalogue / brochure of childminders, nurseries, nannies

(10 Posts)
girl11 Sat 27-Jun-09 20:32:20

Hypothetical situation - you are pregnant with your first baby or are on maternity leave after your first baby and are due to go back to work. You made some enquiries regarding childcare but nothing 100% solid. The date for return to work approaches. You realise doing more in depth homework that the methods for assessing child care options are a bit time consuming and crude. For example, look in the yellow pages for childminders, look at the ofsted website to read ofsted reports of child care providers who have codes which do not on the face of those web pages reveal who the child care provider is. Look at the local government website which lists approved childminders who you then phone or email to request their ofsted number so you can then read their ofsted report etc.
So if one website where there was a page for each childcare provider to input their details in a regular format - for example a photo, a short summary (which the childcare provider would provide themselves) of what they did and what the thought was important about looking after children, their facilities, their ofsted number, their qualifications, a pdf of their criminal records bureau certificates, relevant personal details such as the number of children they have and their next available vacancies - and this would also apply to both nursery schools and nannies who might want to fill in the template a little differently etc. So your first time mum who knows nothing about local childcare provision can effectively browse one user friendly website which gives all the information they want in one place.
Business wise I am guessing that it is free for the childcare provider to load up their details (maybe with a small amount of supervision to ensure uniformity) but those who might want to search local childcare would pay a nominal fee such as 50p per profile and save time visiting possible childcare providers in person and asking for copies of relevant documents such as criminal records bureau certificates as they would all be on the website.
Question - any thoughts on why child care providers would NOT be interested in doing this or or is not likely to work. Also any thoughts on why new mums might NOT want to use such a site. Reasons I can think of for the childcare providers side might include that the demand for their services is so high that they don't need to bother loading up their profile, or that they are concerned about privacy issues (but why?). Reasons I can think of that a new mum might not want to use the site is cost and that they can get the info elsewhere but in my experience it is quite time consuming and cumbersome to do so. Anyone elses thoughts greatfully received.

curlygal Sat 27-Jun-09 20:45:25

There is something similar to what you are describing already in the Edinburgh area, so there may be elsewhere.

The one in Edinburgh is useful (it's what I used to find DS's (excellent) nursery) but it is not always uptodate.

www.scottishchildcare.gov.uk/LocalChis.aspx?chisid=29

SparkyUK Sat 27-Jun-09 20:54:21

I think this would be a great idea but only if it were truly exhaustive. Childlink has all Ofsted-registered childcare -except nannies - listed on it (so daycare, nurseries, and childminders) but some choose not to be listed on the website and so you have to call the council for the complete list. I think, especially for childminders who opperate out of their homes and use their personal numbers for work, being listed online is a bit too public.

In your scenario, users would have to register first so maybe that would reassure childminders, especially if you had to use a credit card. Still, it is a lot of details to make public and when their are children involved, I think people go (rightly) get scared. There may be a way around this tho -- no addresses, but first 4 digits of postcode or something so that users can get a sense of where without being able to pinpoint it exactly.

Do you mean pay 50p for each search result that you want to look at hmm? I think that would put me off even if it were low (there are over 100 childminders in my area) so maybe a one-off registration fee or a monthly subscription. Keep it low though - some sites like this charge 25 pounds and that seems a bit over the top. You could also look at having it free and paid for by advertisements. As long as the site still looks clean, and the ads are clearly marked as such, people won't mind.

You could also go Web 2.0 crazy and have comments field where parents can leave recommendations. That's certainly something that childlink doesn't have!

girl11 Sat 27-Jun-09 21:07:43

Thanks both of these comments are really useful. In response to the scottishchildcare link I had a look on this page and it does look useful. But I was thinking of something run privately (i.e. not a government backed webpage). In order for it to be a private venture I think it would need to be clear that you are not recommending any particular child care provider but simply putting essential information all in one place. I absolutely agree that the viability and attractiveness of the site would depend on it being up to date and refreshed so the information (for example about vacancies with child minders) was always current.
In response to sparkyUK, I totally see your point about privacy. The important bit tho must be locality so how about having an interactive map to your area showing roughly where the childminder is based (if not the first part of the postcode as you say). I am not averse to having nicknames for the childminders if there is a preference but had imagined that a photo would be important. The idea is to short circuit the admin and time consuming burden of having to locate all local childminders and then phone and if necessary visit them all one by one and then if suitable check thro all the paperwork such as CRB and qualifications before you even get to talking about vacancies. However I totally understand what you say about security. Maybe once the "customer" has paid the nominal charge for the formal information (i.e. a PDF of CRB certificate and qualification certificates with personal details redacted if necessary) you can then email the childminder who then gives you access to other personal information such as a photo and address / phone number details.
However I am not sure how concerned all childminders might be about this type of thing - some might be and some might not - after all some childminders just advertise in the yellow pages.
I would be really interested to hear any other thoughts. On the 50p charge per childminder don't you think this would be good value to see a PDF of qualification certificates and CRB certificates assuming current? It would save the hassle of chasing these up from one or more possible childminders etc? Or maybe people think this is information you could get for free if you devote enough of your maternity leave chasing it up...?

SparkyUK Sat 27-Jun-09 21:36:54

I think the locations and vacancy status would be the most important things. Right not I have a 42 page word document of the childminders in my area and in theory have to call each one to find out if they are within a ten minute walk or 60 minute walk of my house. I wouldn't mind paying 50p if I had narrowed it down to a handful, but I would be turned off if I were asked to pay during that initial hunt.

girl11 Sat 27-Jun-09 21:43:46

Thanks Sparky this is really helpful and I can totally see this is what would matter to people as (on reflection) those were the key things for me too. I also see your point on charges. thanks

atworknotworking Mon 29-Jun-09 18:37:13

As a childminder I often find the way prospective parents find me quite bizzare, and always in a roundabout way, personally I would like a site like this that contained qualifications, ofsted grading, vacancies and key information, their are a few sites similar that childminders can advertise on free of charge, usually the kind that offers emergency childcare, which personally I prefer not to do as it is heaps of paperwork for little reward IYSWIM.

As to putting personal info on I would not put my CRB check or my Ofsted reg no, as people use these details to claim childcare tax credits so this info I only give out once a contract has been signed. Also with regard to security I look after children who need to be protected or for social services therefore it would be easy for someone to locate my setting if it was very public therefore possibly endangering a childs safety, it is frustrating finding minders in areas local to you but a post code would be as public as I would like to be, this might not be the case with all minders though but I would presume others who look after children with similar needs to my mindees will feel the same way.

With regard to fees I think .50p per profile is a bit costy at last count I think their were about 50,000 minders who are NCMA registered, that doesn't take into account Morton Michelle or those not with an association, so potentially a lot, however if the system searched for a set of criteria and narrowed the list down to say 5 - 10 possibilities, the cost is a bit more reasonable you could do incentives like buy 5 get 1 free or something or sell add ons through the site like books / craft things / toys etc, as well as advertising, I don't mind well placed advertising but I can't stand those ones that pop up on the screan and start blaring music at you.

It's a good idea though

girl11 Thu 02-Jul-09 10:28:51

Thanks atworknotworking it is really useful to have the viewpoint of a childminder
If anyone is still reading this thread (especially childminders or new mums trying to check out childminders as efficiently and thoroughly as possible)it would be great to hear the views of anyone else

I think if I have understood the comments correctly
(1) from the point of view of a mum looking for childminders the first things which would be useful would be location (so they can work out the closest proximity as this helps with dropping off or collecting with ref to mums home or workplace) and an always up to date and accurate reflection of the vacancy situation with that childminder including maybe some useful info about waiting lists if there are any and how they work.
(2) from the point of view of the childminder it is getting your vacancies filled quickly and efficiently, maybe having a choice of people who want to send their children to you so you can pick the ones who will offer you the best fit hours wise for the number of hours you want to work, maybe also where you have a good rapport with the mum, and maybe where you can line people up in the future with a waiting list so you can be sure of future work. Is this right?

Other things I imagine might be useful to a mum (but correct me if I am wrong) is information about the childminders qualifications and status on ofsted (i.e. a list of any outstandings or goods on that rating) and other useful info like CRB checks. But do most mums not worry about these things till they have found someone close who has vacancies (i.e. not fussed about qualifications so long as they can take your child and it is convenient). On a personal level I always like photos but do mums care about a photo of the childminder or is this irrelevant? And information about facilities like garden, area to play, sleep, other children who are looked after by that childminder etc - how important and how quickly would you want this (i.e. immediately on the first web page you visit or could you wait till you have contacted the childminder to find this out).

Anyone else with any thoughts very much appreciated.

Things I am wondering are
- how would you incentivise the childminder always to keep her vacancy details totally up to date all the time? There seems to be a resistance to asking the childminder to pay for her web page which I understand but what other motivation would there be, otherwise mums who pay for the information would not be impressed if it was out of date.
- what "added extras" could you give on the website to make any minimal charge (like 50p) to the mum worthwhile otherwise they just research themselves and phone the childminder for it for free. This was where I was thinking pdf copies of qualifications or crb checks to get the paperwork out of the way and make it look more professional but you say people use this for tax credit claims. How would a mum know whether to sign a contract with a childminder unless she has seen these things first before signing the contract? Or are mums generally not fussed about it in advance?

Sorry if too long winded. I am guessing no one is looking at this thread now but if anyone else is and has any thoughts I would love to hear them

atworknotworking Fri 03-Jul-09 21:19:16

Just to clarify re: paperwork side, CM's usually go through certificates when prospective parents visit, I generally have two visits first for a look around then second for paperwork and contract signing, we are also encouraged to carry out home visits on prospective clients, not sure how many CM's actually do this though, with ref to keeping the info upto date, have you thought about sending a weekly email for vacancies, then at the bottom of the profile you could have a last updated date, if I was looking and noticed that a profile hadn't been updated for some time I wouldn't bother requesting it (so wouldnt waste the fee and couldn't complain either as was aware of dates) then the onus is put on the CM to update not you as the site provider.

atworknotworking Fri 03-Jul-09 21:26:36

OOOO just thought of an incentive, I would be quite happy to do a voucher kind of thing for say £10 off first bill, so if you have a voucher code and a parent found me and booked though your site I would give a tenner of, that way the parents are more or less guaranteed to get their initial profile search money back, and from my perspective ten quid isnt much in the long term, every one grin. And about the paperwork, most people decide straight away on the feel they get and their own childs response, I usually have to insist they have a look at insurance, crb, registration etc.

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