Child care is increasingly needed in a society where both parents work. There are a variety of options in London to fit all needs. Always research your options carefully before leaving your child with someone else.
It is important to find a facility that works for you and your child. Some factors to consider:
Budget: It is important to know what you are able to spend to help determine where you should look. Think about the number of hours and time to day you will need a sitter to determine your total costs.
Language: Your child may need a dual language facility if they do not speak the native language. Many schools are dual or even tri-lingual staff and curriculum both for international children and to encourage early learning.
Age of Children: Choices in childcare are more limited before 3 years old, and children over 5 years old may attend public pre-school for at least half a day. Some schools require that children be potty-trained.
Service Provided: Some facilities offer occasional care or partial care (i.e. 3 days a week), while other facilities only offer full-time.
When choosing a care center, also check staff turnover. Consistency in caregivers is a major benefit for your child. Make sure that you completely trust any facility or caregiver you leave your child with. This is an important element in creating a happy situation, and a happy life.
Child care Vouchers are provided to help cover the cost of childcare. These are usually given by the employer through a government supported program (although it is absolutely free for the company, not all of them enroll unfortunately). Working parents can benefit from significant tax and NI savings of up to £1,195 a year using Childcare Vouchers, and up to double the amount if both parents are part of a Childcare Vouchers scheme. A full guide to benefits is available at childcare vouchers.
Meeting local moms is a great way to determine availability and options. Meet at a park, playground, or try online forums like EasyExpat's London forum and network of expats in London. Be sure to visit different care facilities to find one that works for you.
The easiest way to find a childcare service is usually to pass through an agency. For a full time nanny during the day the agency fee is about 4 weeks of salary. Agencies are often specialised by area and an agency in Wimbledon will not provide nannies for Hampstead, for example.
The cost of a daytime nanny is about £250-500/week (net, add £100 to get the gross rate with tax and National insurance and depending if the person lives-in or lives-out) and the price rises if you have 2 or more children. You will need to register the child carer at Inland Revenue and provide payment forms. You can do it yourself, the agency can do it or you can ask a specialised company (cost is about £150/year).
You have 2 categories of nannies:
- Anglo-Saxon with qualification, experience and references but can demand special conditions (e.g. no domestic duties…);
- Others (especially East –Europe).
On the other hand, you can give the child to a registered childminder. They are listed and controlled by the Council (where you can also find the list of childminders in your area). You can find useful information about how to choose a childminder on the website: http://www.childcare.co.uk.
Nurseries are run by a team of staff with activities planned for entertainment and education. This is also a place for children to make friends outside the home and learn new social skills. They are private organizations and can be very expensive in London, in average (depending on location) from £50/day to £120/day. Once you have booked specific days per week (from 1 to 5) it is not possible to change them (you may be able to swap days on specific occasion with a fee) and it is expected that you will pay the nursery 12 months a year (even when your child is on holiday or sick). You can stop the nursery with a 1 to 3 months notice. Time for nursery may vary, usually 8am to 6.30pm (some of them only open from 9am to 3:15pm).
All providers are regulated, inspected and reports are available on the Office for Standards in
Education (Ofsted) website www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports
The site, Day Nurseries, offers groups throughout England.
Playgroups may work in partnership with local government to provide free part-time pre-school for three and four year old's. Childreach can help connect you with groups in your area.
Different facilities have different prices, but in general you should expect to pay about £100 a day for a child younger than two in a full-time day nursery. After 2 years old, prices decrease. In inner London, the price may be much more.
For complete information on Children's Centre Admissions and Charging Policy, read the policy.
Babysitter's are generally employed on a temporary or short-term basis. Often a friend of the family or relative is employed for an evening to watch over the child at the parents's residence. In the UK, babysitter's may be called "childminders".
Usually young women are the babysitter's and may offer their services as a business. A babysitter should have civil liability insurance and the babysitter's parents must be informed if the person is a minor. Only baby-sitters aged 15 or more can ask for payment.
The cost of care provided by a childminder is usually slightly lower than the equivalent cost of a nursery. This is because the overhead is lower and their status as self-employed avoids the charges of tax or national insurance contributions. Expect to pay between £8-10 per child per hour in London.
With friends and family, there is not a standard payment. It will be up to you and the babysitter to negotiate a reasonable rate.
Most families find a babysitter by word-of-mouth, letting friends and family know that they are looking. Parents may also try posting on bulletin boards at community centers, grocery stores, or expat hang-outs.
A great on-line resource is to post on expat classified's, like on Easy Expat's babysitter search.
Other popular sites in which to find babysitter's and childcare are:
For consistent babysitting, you may look at an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".
[Nursery World issue of January 23, 2003 NANNYTAX SURVEY OF UK NANNY WAGES by Stephen Vahrman]
The average net pay for a daily nanny in central London rose by a further 5
per cent to £361 a week. This equates to an annual gross salary of just over
Taking into account the employer's National Insurance of almost £2,500 that a working mother employing a nanny would also have to pay on this, she in turn would need to be earning a gross salary of £37,500 just to cover the cost of employing her nanny out of her own net earnings.
However, the average pay of a live-in nanny in central London actually fell by 1.5 per cent to £268 net a week, or £18,000 gross a year.
On the other hand, live-in nannies in outer London and other towns around the UK saw the greatest average increases for the year, by 7 per cent (£16,360 annual gross) and 8 per cent (£14,151 gross) respectively, while their daily nanny counterparts saw rises of just 3 per cent (£19,882 gross) and 5 per cent (£16,360 gross). Meanwhile in the countryside, the average annual gross income of a live-in nanny rose by 3 per cent to £13,382, while daily nannies' rose by only 1.5 per cent to £15,143.
The slowdown in the general economy and therefore with many parents having to tighten their belts, and denied any tax breaks from the Government when employing a nanny, the rising wages that nannies have expected over the past few years have forced a growing number of parents to choose alternative childcare such as au pairs, nurseries or childminders. Many others have opted for a nannyshare, or employing only a part-time nanny, as a more affordable solution. Only parents employing childminders in their own homes - an unlikely scenario - are currently eligible for the new 'home childcarers' tax credits that come into effect this April. But in its childcare strategy document on work-life balance published last week, the Government still says it is 'considering how to widen the scheme to include people who are not already childminders'.
Another consequence of the higher pay that some nannies can command nowadays, as pointed out in last year's survey, is that parents want more for their money. They expect more in the educational content that nannies can bring to the relationship with their children - in some cases requiring an almost traditional governess role - and, more controversially, in wanting their nannies to be more of a combined nanny/housekeeper, especially while the children are at school.
This article has been sent by Bestbear.co.uk , a unique and independent service listing recommended childcare agencies throughout the UK, as well as offering researched information on all areas of childcare. There is no charge for parents to use the website.