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Finding childcare near me: a complete guide to finding the best childcare option for your family

Deciding on the right childcare option for your family’s needs can feel like a bit of a minefield. Check out our guide, which looks at all the different options available to you and the things you need to consider when making this important decision.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Jan 13, 2023

Childcare with Koru Kids

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Deciding who will take care of your child is not an easy decision. There are lots of things to consider when working out which childcare is best for your child and that can feel very daunting. 

The cost of living crisis is likely making this decision even harder for some parents as they try to work out which option suits their budget the best. Whether you need wrap-around care for after school, full-time childcare or are considering at-home options, we’ve looked at the different types of childcare available to you in the UK, and what you need to think about when choosing the best one for you.

What should I consider when choosing childcare for my family?

First of all - it’s never too early to start your research. These are some of the things you may want to think about when looking at childcare settings near you:

Location: do you want childcare in your home or outside of your home? Think about how far you can reasonably travel each morning and whether it needs to be close to your workplace or a train station. Can you - or a friend/relative - get there easily if they get sick or you have to collect them early?

Timings: is this childcare available over school breaks, like summer holidays and during half term? Do they offer after school care? Exactly when and the duration of your childcare will impact the overall cost and the options available to you.

Financial help: does the chosen method of childcare qualify for financial help? Ask about Working Tax Credit, Tax-Free Childcare, Universal Credit and the 15 or 30 hours of free childcare. 

The fee: what does it include? Meals, snacks, nappies, etc? Do they ever ask for money for anything else?

Notice for changes: if you decide to change your child’s arrangements, how much notice do you have to give?

Staffing: depending on the type of childcare you’re considering, look at the staff turnover, they’re qualifications and the ratio of child to carer - for children aged two and under, this should be at least one adult to three children.

Safety: are the staff first aid trained for children and babies? How often are risk assessments carried out and what measures are put in place when they go on trips?

Progress: if you want to keep informed about your child, how will this be done? Will you be kept updated on your child’s progress?

How much does childcare cost?

This will be a huge factor for most parents as childcare can be very costly and in some cases take up most of their income. Where you live, the type of childcare you choose and how often you need it will affect how much it costs. To give you an idea, according to Money Helper, the average cost of sending a child under the age of two to nursery part-time (25 hours a week) is £137.69 and full-time (50 hours) is £263.81 in the UK.

When your child starts school and you need to use after school clubs, the average cost for five days a week is £62. Thankfully, there is help you can get to pay for these costs.

To find out what help is available to you, the government has a childcare calculator. This will let you know if you’re eligible for government help, including Tax-Free Childcare and 15 hours of free childcare a week, which is available to all three and four year olds in the UK, or 30 hours, which is available to working parents.

How do I find my childcare provider?

How to find a childcare provider

There’ll be lots of different childcare options in your area, but where do you start looking? You can look online to find out about local nurseries and you can also contact your local council to find a list of registered childminders. Sometimes families only need a hand for a few hours per week to help fit around their work schedule and routine, so this is where using services like Koru Kids can help you find someone that fits the bill. 

Founded in 2016 by Rachel Carrell, Koru Kids is an award winning childcare startup helping busy parents find quality childcare. After having her first child, Rachel realised how expensive and challenging childcare options were in London. She saw many of her friends experiencing the same problems. Some gave up work or made unwanted career choices based on the difficulty in finding childcare. This led to Rachel leaving her job as CEO of a healthcare company to focus on solving the problem for families, creating childcare that works for modern families.

With Koru Kids, you can find nannies and childminders who are vetted, trained, and offer outstanding childcare. Depending on your requirements, children can be picked up from school, get help with homework and enjoy meals at home, with the childcare being tailored to your needs. The company operates in London, Aberdeen, Bristol, Birmingham, Brighton, Surrey, Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield, Bath, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Oxford, Gloucestershire, Winchester and Herts.

The different kinds of childcare in the UK

Registered childminders

“We are in SW… our childminder does wrap around hours for lots of working families. She's excellent and we found her through a friend's recommendation. The care isn't always at our home, it's sometimes at one of the other kids' houses depending on the day. She also takes them to the park after school sometimes if the weather is good too. You're more likely to find the care you need at a reasonable cost if you go down the childminder route.” WoolyMammoth55

For working families and those looking for a more home-from-home environment, childminders can be a great option to consider. Childminders are self-employed and generally work from their own home. 

The appeal of this is that children will have all the usual comforts of their home, but as childminders are registered with OFSTED, they still offer a structured educational setting. They can also drop them off and pick them up from nursery and school, and offer more flexibility if you need early drop offs and later picks up to fit around your work schedule. 

The other appeal for parents who opt for a childminder over a nursery setting is that the amount of children being cared for is smaller, so children get more one-on-one care and they can also get out and about to the park and playgroups. Childminders also tend to charge less than nurseries or nannies, but it’s worth considering what will happen if they fall ill and who can look after your child in their absence. Also, you will need to check if they offer free childcare hours.

Day nursery

“My DTs started nursery at 3. The most important thing for me when I was looking was somewhere with outside play space, and how the nursery workers were as people… We visited 2 nurseries (both of which were great) but went with the second one as there were less kids there so our two wouldn’t get lost in the crowd, the staff were so warm and welcoming and our kids got stuck in straight away playing… I just knew it was right for them!” MuchTooTired

A nursery is a more structured childcare setting where your child can attend from as young as six weeks up until they start school. The main appeal for parents using a nursery is that it is a consistent, stable place for their child to be cared for when they’re not with them.

A nursery is usually a private organisation offering a place for children to play, learn and prepare for school. Being part of a group setting means they get to make friends and develop their social interaction, and there will be lots of activities planned to keep them entertained and stimulated. Trained staff will also monitor them to ensure their educational and social needs are being met.

The other benefits of a nursery are, unlike a nanny or childminder, you won’t be affected if staff are ill and they offer care all year round. However, a group setting like this won’t offer the one-on-one care you’d get from a childminder or nanny, and nurseries can be expensive. You will probably have to pay even if your child is sick or on holiday, too.

Nursery childcare in the UK

Nanny/Au pair

If you’d prefer childcare based in your home, then you’ll need to look at employing a nanny or an au pair. This will be appealing for parents who work shifts or you need something more flexible.

A nanny can live in your home or their own, whereas an au pair tends to be a student from another country, so they will need to live with you and have their food provided. Having a nanny or an au pair means you can have more input into how your child is cared for and also, depending on your arrangement, you don’t have to worry if you miss a train home or have to work a bit late as someone is there to care for your family. They may also help with light housework and can take your child to appointments or for trips out.

If you have a nanny or au pair you need to consider the extra costs, such as fuel and covering their annual leave. Your child may also not get as much interaction with children as if they were at nursery and you will also need to have a plan in place if they fall ill.

Some parents may only need a part-time nanny to help with wrap around care when the kids are at school. Even when children start school, many working parents still need their children to be looked after and this can cause quite a lot of stress if they have to book various after school clubs. 

A part-time nanny can help with this and agencies like Koru Kids can help you find someone suitable. They specialise in part-time and after school care and families can hire a local nanny for as little as 20 hours (and then use the hours when you want). All their nannies are vetted, trained and insured with all the hassle and admin taken care of. 

Koru Kids
“It’s definitely worth exploring as an option to see if they have a nanny who would be a good fit for you.”

Waitinforaflamin

Koru Kids

Find nannies and childminders near you
korukids.co.uk

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Playgroup/preschool

“I send DC 2 to playgroup for two hours on the days we're home together. There's about q5 kids there, they seem to have a riot, it's broadened his horizons beyond family / childminder.” Relocatiorelocation

A playgroup or preschool can be a great option if you don’t need full-time childcare. They aren’t as formal as nurseries and may only run for a few hours a day or school hours, usually in term time only.

These groups tend to be for children aged from around two to four. A playgroup or preschool may be held at locations such as a leisure centre, church or scout hut where children can enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, music play, books and stories.

A playgroup or preschool may be run by a committee of parents, with the manager or leader holding a relevant qualification to run the group. The group will be registered with OFSTED delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), but can be more affordable to committing to a nursery and most places offer free childcare funding.

Children’s centre

A children’s centre is somewhere local families can go to for support. They offer free help with early education, health, family issues, and can help support parents going back to work. Children’s centres are designed to help children aged five and under, with some offering full and part-time daycare. These will tend to be term time only with childcare facilities varying.

Childminding with Koru Kids

Nursery school

“School nurseries are usually a 3 hour session a day. Or if you are really lucky you might get 'full time' (ie 9 -3). You would probably still need an after-school child minder.” bookmum08

A nursery school is a preschool attached to a school and follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). They tend to be open during school hours offering education for children aged three and four, although some may offer it to children aged two. 

They will run morning or afternoon sessions, so this may not be suitable for working parents who need their child cared for outside of these hours. OFSTED registered, a nursery school will provide more structured, educational activities to prepare children for primary school, and it’s a great chance for children to get used to a school environment.

Family/friends

“I work 4 days a week and my DS is in nursery 3 days and with my mum for 1 day a week. One thing to consider with Grandparents is back up if they're poorly. We've had 3 weeks in the last 6 months where my mum was too poorly to look after him. Nothing serious, flu and stomach bugs, but not well enough to have a toddler to run after (never mind him catching!)” TeethingBabyHelp

Childcare can be a lot more affordable and flexible if you have a friend or relative who is able to care for your child for you, but it’s best to make sure you have a good relationship and you’re both on the same page when it comes to caring for your child.

If you don’t agree on things like discipline and food then it may be worth looking at other childcare options to prevent stress further down the line. Your friend or relative can care for your child at your home or theirs, with the biggest benefit being that it will hugely reduce your childcare costs. You may feel more comfortable offering to pay them something or covering their expenses. 

Some Mumsnet users worry about the lack of social interaction when being cared for by a friend or relative, so it may be worth considering mixing this childcare with a nursery or playgroup when they get older and need more stimulation. As with a nanny or au pair, you will need to take care of your child - or have a back-up plan - if your carer falls ill.

About Koru Kids

Founded in 2016 by Rachel Carrell, Koru Kids is an award winning childcare startup helping busy parents find quality childcare. After having her first child, Rachel realised how expensive and challenging childcare options were in London. She saw many of her friends experiencing the same problems. Some gave up work or made unwanted career choices based on the difficulty in finding childcare. This led to Rachel leaving her job as CEO of a healthcare company to focus on solving the problem for families, creating childcare that works for modern families.

You can hire a (vetted, trained and insured) part-time after-school nanny, full-time nanny or childminder, with all the hassle and admin taken care of. Koru Kids was built to support modern working families with the childcare juggle and the service gives you the flexibility to find the right nanny for the times you need with none of the usual headache. 

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