Being able to earn a living and be safe in the knowledge that your child or children are in safe hands whilst you’re doing so is the dilemma every working parent faces.
There’s so much to think about – from the type of childcare you prefer to the quality of the service to the cost, to the simple fact that both you and your child feel comfortable with the childcare service you’ve chosen. That’s why the government has set up a website called ChildcareLink http://www.childcarelink.gov.uk/ which will let you know national and local information about choosing your childcare provider, complete with vacancy listings, events and Ofsted ratings. It’s available in a number of languages and, if you take a look at the right hand side of the page, there may be some links for childcare providers in your area.
You’ve really got to go with your ‘gut feel’ but here are just a few pointers to help you choose the right kind of childcare for you:
If you’re opting for a childcare centre, always visit it with your child so that you can both experience the atmosphere and see how you feel about spending time there. Then:
- Check out what the other children are up to – do they look like they’re having a great time?
- Did the staff make you feel welcome and were they happy to answer any questions?
- Does everything look clean and well maintained?
- Ask what your child will be given to eat and drink, and if there are rest periods to have a quick nap before getting back to all that playing!
- Make sure you’re clear about opening hours and fees, and when they’ve to be paid!
- If your child needs medication, do you need to sign any forms giving staff permission to administer it?
- You should also ask about the staff’s qualifications and whether the childcare provider is registered with the local authority - in fact, that’s a must!
If you’re thinking of having someone to look after your child or children on a personal basis, at yours or their home, take all of the above into account but also we’d advise:
- Always try to get a personal recommendation from another parent to find someone reliable to look after your child
- Always ask for and make sure that you check references
- Always trust your instinct and do what’s best for you and your child