Childcare and Working Costs – A Reply

I read with interest the post from Tots100 on Childcare and Working Costs and I have to admit to getting riled.

Now I do agree that the Government should do more to help working parents, however, do you realise what your child carer actually provides?

Nursery vs Childminder vs Nanny – the decision is yours and the cost vary, but each has different outgoings.

Nursery’s have overheads, staff to pay (minimum wage of £6.19 over 21), training fees as well as all the paperwork that goes with looking after children.   

Childminders are often cheaper and work below the minimum wage.  They still have to pay for training fees, registration, equipment and also do all the paperwork that the Nursery does.  As a childminder works from home, your child gets that home environment, meals and snacks included, and also gets trip to local farms, soft play areas etc – all which is included in the price you pay.

The benefits of Nursery’s and Childminders is that they are regulated by OFSTED and have to keep up regular training on all the latest policies.  They follow the EYFS Statutory Framework for the Foundation stage (0-5) and is therefore much more than simply “babysitting”!  This is a professional role that’s involves care, education and stimulating the child’s development.

Nursery’s and Childminders also have strict rules on how many children they can care for.  This limits their earning potential, but they are a business – why shouldn’t they make a profit (albeit a small one).

A Nanny can be cheaper as they often live in.  They often have training in Childcare and First Aid and often become part of the family.

Au Pairs are often the cheapest option, but these are not yet regulated by OFSTED.  They live in the family home and you provide bed, board and pocket money in return for childcare and some household duties.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

27 thoughts on “Childcare and Working Costs – A Reply”

  1. I absolutely agree that I want my child looked after properly, which obviously means paying for a good service. I have stated childcare cost as the reason I haven’t returned to work however, as I earnt less in a day than the cost of having Syd in a nursery for the same day, and that’s before I find holiday care for the 9 year old. Just made no economic sense for me to go back, which is not a attack on the costs charged by those who supply childcare, more just a statement of an unfortunate fact!

  2. The problem isn’t the cost of childcare, I certainly don’t feel that I overpaid my nursery or childminder, the issue remains that many jobs don’t pay enough to cover childcare and cost of living and jobs are rarely flexible enough for particularly mums to find a good work life balance. Childcare is affordable to higher earners only, but that is not due to high childcare fees.

  3. “Playing Devils Advocate” – the Government are subsidizing Childcare with Child Tax Credit for lower earners at up to 70% of the fees, plus they are also now introducing funding for some 2 year olds. You can also get Childcare vouchers which can save over £1000 per year – what else can they do?

    • I don’t know what the answer is for society as a whole. For me, the answer is to stay at home until Syd is at school, and then I will only have to find care for 13 weeks of the year, but having been there before with my older two I know that that is no picnic either! Having kids is expensive, I am happily poor because of them!! But it is a shame that for mums with low income jobs there is often no option but to stay at home, I genuinely loved my job, and would have gone back to the three days a week I did previously were it not going to leave us worse off!

  4. My kids all went to nursery, with my mum having them one day a week. They all went to after school club, initially for 2 days a week, then 1 day a week until eldest left primary. I have a reasonable job, but with 2 kids in nursery at a time the only way it paid for me to go to work was because my mum had them one day a week. Now I’m struggling with school holiday care and have blogged on that twice in the last week!

    • I used to dread the holidays – the worst time, as the after school / holiday all demand extra money for extra trips.
      It got to the stage where I booked all my holiday the year before to ensure that I had as much time off as I could get!

  5. We used a childminder for Jessamy when she was younger as the home environment was perfect for her but we moved her into nursery in October because she was ready for more interaction with bigger groups of kids. The nursery costs £3 more a week which we thought was worth it and I could never underestimate how important they are in looking after my girl.
    I have no idea what we’ll do when Lottie is old enough to go – I need the time to work as I’m self employed and work from home but the costs are quite high. I think they should be high – the care providers have to make a living – but there needs to be some way of making it easier for women to return to work 🙂

  6. The thing is, when they give low earners child tax credits for childcare, this in turn lowers a familys housing benefit as tax credits are an income, so in theory there is no extra money its just coming from a different pot. Of course, for home owners the childcare tax credits are a bonus as no housing benefit available.

    • No, but home owners have a mortgage to pay which is probably higher than subsidised rent and have to pay full council tax. Plus they have home maintenance to keep on top of that tenants don’t have to pay for.
      If you are lucky enough to have a council house then your rent is minimal too!

  7. My job didn’t pay enough to cover childcare costs. Add to that the extra stress of dropping my son off and travelling to the job and holiday care if he were sent to a term time only place.. it just wasn’t ever going to be worth it. I’m pregnant with no2 now. I don’t think I’ll be back in work for at least another 3 years if not longer. It’s not easy (financially) but there’s not really another option.

  8. We had our first daughter in France and she went to a “nounou” which is essentially a childminder who can mind up to 3 small ones aged 0-3 which is when they go to school there. I went back to work when she was 3 months old and she went to the nounou for 4 full days a week. Once we received our monthly equivalent to child benefit and our yearly tax break for employing a nounou it cost us around £50 a month for this almost full-time, fantastic childcare.

    I lived in France for 12 years and I know tons of women who went back to work in the first 6 months after their babies were born. On the other hand I know ONE person who didn’t go back to work. It’s a very different culture and being a SAHM is frowned upon as you are seen as being lazy. But if you do go back to work your childcare will be exceptional and will cost you next to nothing.

    When we moved back to the UK this was the biggest shock to us, and now we’ve just had our second I can see that a hefty portion of my salary is going to go towards our live-in nanny (the cheapest option for us, and the best one as we can then get a French nanny who will help with our daughters’ bilingualism).

    In case you are wondering, in France you are taxed heavily to pay for the country’s childcare costs (amongst other things), which explains where the money comes from.

    Great article, thanks!

  9. I always find this debate interesting. I don’t think alot of people realise how much hard work and expense goes into running a nursery. They also forget that people who work in childcare work hard and that it isn’t just a case of sitting and painting all day.

    We worked out that it wouldn’t be worth it financially for me to go back to work especially now we have 2. We are a low income family so would get help with costs but as someone else commented if you get that help it is taken away elsewhere. My husband works shifts which are dfferent each week so i wouldnt be able to get a job to work around his shifts either so i’ll be waiting until the boys are in education.

    • That’s part of the reason I didn;t go back to my previous job as my husband travelled around the country and couldn’t guarantee he’d be able to have the same days off.

  10. Maybe we can blame the gov that encouraged women back to work in the first place. I know I feel under constant pressure by society to work, or at least return to work as soon as the children do attend childcare or school. Even if i do get forced to go back when they start school, i will wamt to be able to be there for my children after school.

  11. Thanks for mentioning us.

    From my experience a nanny was definitely not a budget option – at the time, a childminder cost around £40 a day, nursery was around £50 and the nanny around £80. We opted for a nanny 3 days a week, which cost us around £1,000 a month, and we had to pay the nanny’s NI and tax on top of that, which does add up, plus a payroll company if you don’t want to get involved in employers’ tax returns.

    I didn’t mind paying because our nannies all had tremendous qualifications, great experience and lots of expertise in caring for babies – most nannies hired through a reputable agency will have all the same NVQs and checks any childcare professional would be expected to have. Most parents don’t quibble about paying for good quality childcare.

    I think the issue of childcare costs isn’t about the cost the provider charges though – it’s about recognising that the cost prevents many skilled, motivated parents from being able to work. The solution then has to be either the government intervening with some kind of subsidy that reduces the cost to families; OR employers have to step up and create salary and employment packages that allow parents to work and pay for quality childcare.

    • I always assumed Nanny’s were cheaper – I don’t know why.
      I like the idea of a government subsidy, but that money has to come from somewhere – just don’t know where.

  12. I would like to jump in here with a different perspective. I am a new mum to a 5 month old. I am dur to return to work in march. My job is in a nursery setting. I have also worked as nanny in the past. I have to say a nursery is so much more than babysitting. We have strict policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and protection of any given child. We have to follow strict regulations from ofsted. All staff have to be first aid trained and crb checked and have regular ongoing training to ensure they are educating your child to the highest standard. All of this costs money! Now I agree completely that the government should help more absolutely. But I know that nurseries and childminders have overheads that have to be paid. Food to be bought and materials provided. Nannys and au pairs currently do not have the same regulations. Although this is beginning to change where nannying is concerned. I know when you look at what you spend it seems obscene and I agree childcare is expensive. But if you want your child to be cared for by professional, trained staff. Be safe and well educated we cannot expect that to be cheap. Working parents pay my wages, and I will shortly become one myself. But on deciding childcare for my daughter the question is who can care for her and educate her, keep her safe and feed her. In my case its grandma for a few days and then nursery. But I believe you have to pay for quality for everything in life.

    Blaming childcare providers ia totally pointless. Like anything they provide a service that needs to be paid for. If there is an issue with cost preventing parents from returning to work, the fault there lies with the government for making it harder to do so. With my experience I know you can pay for cheaper child care but with the lower cost comes lower quality. So in essence you get what you pay for.

    • I completely agree with you – I am a childminder myself and feel the need to explain myself everytime.
      It is so frustrating when people moan about the cost, yet I myself am a working mother and these are MY wages!!
      I am now questioning why we (as a whole)think that the government should pay for (or subsidise) childcare.

  13. When my daughter was younger nursery places were few and far between and expensive, we opted for a childminder and to be honest think that was the best decision we ever made. Growing up with the kids, my daughter learnt to interact, play etc with the other children at an early age. By the time she went to school was very confident, could read and write as used to sit up the table with the other children after school while doing their homework. Even at school the children all look out for each other and have become extended family. When she became one of the oldest she was very patient with the younger kids, and today is very good at explaining helping younger children.
    The childminder was great, very flexible with times, if we was going to be late etc. I think it was so relax atmosphere as new parents made us feel at home, and never hesitated recommending her to others.
    I dont think I could put a cost on the service we received while she was growing up, but it is expensive and over half my wages went on the child care costs, back then there was no help and I felt I wanted to return to work for adult interaction, I was lucky that I worked 3 days and had 4 days at home, so had the best of both worlds.
    If I had to opt for a nursery I dont think I would have the personal service I got from my childminder.

  14. Great post and great response. I too am a childminder. After I had my first child I realised that it wasn’t feasible (not that I wanted to either) to return to my previous employment. I was also a qualified masseuse so trained to be a baby massage instructor, but the income wasn’t reliable or regular. I therefore trained to be a childminder.

    I take my role very seriously, and work hard at it. We do have a lot of overheads we have to cover, as well as constant training (quite rightly) but with First Aid courses costing £100, liability insurances, payment to Ofsted for registration, upgrading of toys etc. it is an expensive business. At £6 an hour, less than a minimum wage, the children are offered a safe, warm, healthy, stimulating environment. I cover all food and snacks and all trips (daily) be it to a park, playgroup or the local farm.

    I have completed my NVQ3 and also my NVQ4 as I intend to gain a degree in childcare. This is my profession, and its about time that people see that it is a professional role now, and not about women wanting to earn some “pin money” whilst their own children are young (although I’m sure there are a few out there).

    Essentially I am also a working mum who has had to reinvent myself several times over to afford to stay at home and provide my family with the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.

    It’s hard work, but very rewarding, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    I also get riled when people throw the expensive childcare costs at us. I really think families should look at these issues so they go into parenting with their eyes wide open. I do not believe that the government/our taxes should pay to subsidise all childcare costs. It is tough, but only for a few years.

    Annie x

    • I agree with you Annie – I am currently doing my NVQ3 which will build my skills and knowledge.
      My aim once I have completed this, is to do a bolt on course once my youngest is in school and become a teaching assistant. You never know, I might get the studying bug and even train to be a teacher!!

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