Finding childcare is troublesome, isn’t it?
The first time childcare crossed my mind was around 20 years ago when I realised that I had both a tiny baby and the need to get a job to feed the aforementioned tiny baby. At that time, my best money earning option was in back-shift newspaper production.
There was a nanny agency that took a fee to find someone for me – admittedly, someone lovely and trustworthy. I had no idea how much the whole thing would cost or even how to go about it. Yes, naive, but not unusually so.
Over the years I’ve used nurseries, after school clubs, childminders and babysitters to meet different childcare needs for different children in different circumstances. Each time, it was tricky to find the right solution – at the right price. If I wasn’t too busy with the various conflicting demands, I may well have asked why there wasn’t one place to go to find out what’s available.
Good news: there is somewhere you can go to find all the child-care options in your area.
It’s called Childcare.co.uk and I’ve been asked to review the site and let you know what I think.
What is it?
It’s a one-stop-shop for all people providing services for parents and the parents who need the services. You can easily find what’s available near you or you can post an advert specifying exactly what you looking for. Simple as that.
What can you find?
You can find babysitters, nannies, nurseries, childminders, doulas, home helps, tutors and schools. Everything really, though it is more geared up to individuals such as nannies and childminders.
Within five miles of my home, there are 84 listings. Each one packed with information, availability details and so forth. Helpfully, the hourly rate is listed up front.
Who uses it?
According to the site’s own information, it’s used by more than 2million people. I’ve no reason to doubt this as there are certainly plenty of active listings in all parts of the country. Though my childcare needs are diminishing as the Boys get older, I would certainly look to this site to find the person who might be able to help me.
How does it work?
You sign up, find what you need, then get in touch. It’s that simple. Alternatively, you can post a job if you have something specific in mind.
What about safety?
Childcare.co.uk is quite clear about the fact that it does not take responsibility for screening or otherwise checking the people who offer childcare services to you. That’s your responsibility. It does let you know if the service provider in question has uploaded their certificates or not. There are plenty of bits of advice as well as links to the different organisations you can use to verify the service provider’s credentials.
This information includes checklists and suggestions about what to look for in references. It includes easy to forget items such as insurances and first aid qualifications. There isn’t really a short-cut to doing this work yourself, but, at least, if you’ve done it you’ll know that the carer is right for you and your child is in safe hands.
How much does it cost?
Childcare.co.uk is free to use. It does have a premium membership option.
What’s in the premium membership?
- No limits on who you can message
- You get the direct contact details for all members
- Access to 250 online training courses for free on topics such as nutrition and online safety.
- Discounts at restaurants, cinemas and days out.
- Free Creative Steps magazine
- Free legal advice on childcare and employment
- Discount on nanny payroll services.
Premium membership has various payment schemes, with the most popular at £24.99 a month. I haven’t explored the small print in detail, but I imagine you’d only need this level of membership while you’re sorting out a new childcare arrangement.
What about reviews?
The website does have the option for service users to leave feedback, AirBnB-style. It seems that the majority of service providers don’t have any review stars. This makes quite a lot of sense to me, as you don’t change nanny or childminder all that often. I do wonder whether a review system is really the right thing for childcare, but it certainly won’t do any harm.
There are one or two useful features such as a guide to costs by area. That way you can do you sums as well as know what you are likely to be paying.
The advanced search allows you to specify only non-smokers, gender, care slots or from keywords, this will help you narrow down your search results.
Do I recommend childcare.co.uk?
Yes, without a doubt. It shows you what’s available in your area. |It’s an easy-to-use and informative site that allows you to make informed decisions and gives a starting place for finding your solutions.