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Choosing the right childcare to suit your families can be a problem for Working Parents. It is important to get it right as good childcare provides you with peace of mind and your child with an enriching learning environment. Here are some tips on choosing childcare:
Selecting the Right Childcare
You know your child best and know what kind of childcare will suit your child and meet your family's needs. There are regulations in place for most types of childcare which set minimum standards and aim to ensure that the child's interests come first. Early Years' Social Workers in the Health and Social Services Trusts are responsible for the monitoring and inspection of childcare services.
When choosing childcare, consider the following:
Points to consider:
What will it cost?
Prices vary but don't forget to consider quality when thinking about the cost of a service. The Early Years Social Work Teams and NICMA Development Office can give you an idea of cost and help you get in touch with local providers. You may be able to get help with Childcare costs through the Inland Revenue's New Tax Credits. Phone their helpline on: 0845 609 7000
Types of Childcare
Childminders look after children of all ages in the childminder's own home. They are registered with Social Services and inspected every year.
Childminders can often be flexible about the hours that they work and they should provide you child with lots of care, fun and learning.
Day Nurseries are usually privately run for children under five years old. They are registered with Social Services and inspected each year. They are usually open all day for most weeks in the year. Part-time places are often available.
Nurseries are run by a team of staff and activities are planned to help children enjoy learning. At nursery children are involved in activities such as playing, learning new skills and making friends.
Playgroups provide sessional care for children aged 3 to 5 years old. They are registered with the local Trust and inspected every year. They are open usually during the school term.
They aim to provide learning experiences through play opportunities in the group, and with the involvement of parents in all aspects of the operation of the group. They offer a range of fun activities for children and lots of opportunities to learn.
Nursery classes and nursery schools provide early education and childcare for children aged 3 to 4 years old. The offer full or half days and they are staffed by teachers and assistants.
Children who attend get the chance to play and learn alongside other children and acquire skills which will give them a head start of school. Working parents may need to arrange for other childcare to fit around the hours.
Out of School Clubs
Out of School Clubs provide a range of play activities outside of school hours in a comfortable and safe environment. The Clubs cater for children aged between five and 12 years old. The Clubs are staffed by experienced and well-trained Playworkers in a variety of venues, for example clubs may be located at the local school, village hall or community centre.
Parent & Toddler Groups
These groups aim to provide a pleasant meeting place for both adults and children. Parents, Grandparents and Carers stay with their children and responsibility for them. Most groups are run by the Users and make a small charge for refreshments and running costs.