Finding great childcare in London is a huge challenge for working parents. Understanding the different options available and then choosing the right one for your family can make you feel like you’ve fallen down a Google rabbit hole. This blog post should hopefully iron out any questions and queries you might have regarding one specific type of childcare: childminders.

What is a childminder?

A childminder is someone who is self-employed, Ofsted regulated, and works with children for a number of different families. The average childminder looks after 6 children (not all at once!). However, whilst childminders are a fantastic method of childcare, unfortunately they’re becoming less available. The latest Ofsted statistics on ‘childcare providers and inspections’ show that in March 2017, there were 43,500 childminders in the UK, which is down from 44,000 in December 2016. What is more worrying is that there has been a 24% fall in available childminders since August 2012. This means that parents have to find other methods of childcare, such as nannies.

All childminders must be Ofsted registered by law. Because of this requirement, all registered childminders have had a background check, reference check, and a check with social services. They’re government-approved to look after children.

What is the difference between a childminder and a nanny?

The difference between a nanny and a childminder is an important one for parents who are seeking childcare. A childminder normally looks after the child in their own home, so parents have to pick up and drop off at the childminder’s house – something to bear in mind when choosing a childcare option, especially given that it can be tough to find a childminder near you these days.

In contrast, a nanny is employed by the family to care for a child in the family’s own home. Generally a parent has a lot more say in how a nanny looks after the child, which is great for those who want to be hands on in their children’s childcare experience. For example, with a nanny parents can always specify what food should be eaten and the types of activities that are done. With a childminder it’s often much more a case of ‘take it or leave it’ (though of course parents can always make requests and some childminders are happier than others to vary their plans to suit).

Nannies don’t need to be Ofsted registered, although they can be on a voluntary basis. The main reason nannies might choose to become Ofsted registered is so parents can pay them using childcare vouchers they receive from their own employer. If you want to pay a nanny using childcare vouchers or the new government ‘taxfree childcare’ system, the nanny must be Ofsted registered.

Where can you find a childminder?

You can find a list of your local childminders on your local council’s website, and this is generally the best place to start. Don’t be surprised if many don’t get back to you after you contact them – sadly, these lists are often out of date and childminders listed may have moved or no longer be working as a childminder.  

Another good port of call is your local Facebook group – then you can also get informal recommendations and see what the word on the street is about the best childminders.

What are the costs of a childminder?

The cost of a childminder varies according to hours worked – whether they are part-time or full-time — and their location. In London, a full-time Ofsted-registered childminder, working for around 50 hours per week, costs on average £275.83 per week, equating to £1,103 for a 4-week period. A part-time registered childminder, working around 25 hours per week in London, would be around £147.02 per week. This would equate to around £588.08 for a 4-week period. These averages are calculated based on the child being under 2 years of age.

There’s a lot of variation in these figures across London.

Are there any drawbacks to having a childminder?

Unfortunately, good childminders are hard to come by, as there simply aren’t enough of them around. The best ones are often already fully booked for families. Also, childminders might not be useful for those who have children that do activities, such as music or sports after school, as the childminder often does the job from their own home. This also means pickup is from the childminder’s home, which might be another drawback for parents who are looking for their child to relax at home either during the day or afterschool.

What are the alternatives to a childminder?

If you’re lucky enough to have family that can help out then that is great! Family provides your child with continuity and familiarity, and can be much less expensive than paid, professional childcare. However, we know that family help is often hard to come by as lives become increasingly more hectic and busy, and working parents are often living far from where they grew up.

After school activities and clubs are an excellent way for your child to have great fun, and can be a cheap option. Unfortunately, budget cuts in schools mean that a lot of these after-school clubs have been closed, or are limited in number or not quite as good as they used to be. If you’ve got a good one and you can get a place, however, they can be a nice option for your children to have fun with other kids, especially if they enjoy staying after school.

An after-school nanny is often a great choice, providing both flexibility and a social environment for your child to thrive. You can even decide whether you want to take part in a nanny share, where one nanny looks after children from two families at once.  A nanny share is more social for the kids – and cheaper for you! – while still being highly convenient, with the benefits of a nanny.

Koru Kids comes in handy at this point, as we have experience in training up incredible university students as after school nannies. These nannies can take care of just one family, or look after children from two families at once as part of a  nanny share. They’ve had training in paediatric first aid training, and are super flexible to meet your demands. And we sort all the paperwork, with no hidden fees.

Find out more about a Koru Kids after school nanny here.