Recent News articles

spacer image
Breaking News March 14th 2018 Childcare scheme gets six-month reprieve

14 Mar 2018

Education Secretary Damian Hinds made the concession during a Commons debate yesterday March 13th.

spacer image

Childcare Options for Parents Returning to Work


Understanding what childcare options are available when you return to work can be a daunting process, with each option having its own merits and downfalls. This article explains the different ways in which you can manage your childcare requirements to help you choose the best match for you, your family and your employer.
There are a number of childcare options available for parents, but which option is best for you? That is not something this article can answer for you, but what it can do is help you understand the options in a little more detail.

Using an au pair

An au pair is defined as a domestic assistant from a foreign country, working for and living as part of, a host family ( An au pair will take on responsibility for childcare in the home setting, as well as light housework duties too. If you choose this option, ensure that you approach an approved au pair organisation and make sure you follow up references prior to selecting your au pair. Also remember that in the UK and Europe, au pairs must only work part time and dedicate some time to studying, so it is unlikely to be a suitable option if you need childcare to cover a full time job.

Using a Nursery

A nursery is a formal childcare setting for children and babies from three months to school age. Staff working in such a setting are regularly inspected and have to abide by Ofsted regulations. The most popular types are a nursery offered by your workplace, a state-run nursery and a private day nursery. You can ask to see the latest Ofsted inspection reports and will be able to bring your child for taster sessions to ensure they settle in well. However, it is worth remembering that good nurseries are usually in high demand and you may have to put your child's name on a waiting list well before you require the place.

Using a Registered Childminder

A childminder is a person registered to care for children and will usually do so in their home setting. All registered UK Childminders will have an Ofsted ( number and will be subject to similar learning and care objectives as nurseries. Some parents prefer childminders to a nursery setting as it provides a more homely environment for the child. Your local county council childcare services department should be able to provide you with a list of registered childminders in your area. Always make sure you follow up references (ideally with an existing parent using their services) and visit the childminder in their setting. Most childminders will offer a taster session, to see how your child takes to the setting, other children in their care and the childminder too.

Once you have made a decision, make sure you ask your employer if they run a Childcare Voucher Scheme and also your preferred childcare provider if they accept Childcare Vouchers, as this can be an extremely cost effective and tax efficient way of paying for your childcare. Childcare Vouchers don't attract tax or National Insurance, so you could find yourself saving hundreds of pounds over the year by using this option.

Remember, there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to which option is best. You have to choose the option which suits your family situation and working requirements and one that you are totally comfortable with. Good luck!

Author: Eoin Olivers photo

Author: Eoin Oliver

Eoin Oliver is a web designer and blogger with six years of experience writing content and designing graphics for clients large and small. For the past three years Eoin has been focused on researching and writing about the childcare voucher scheme. When not hard at work, Eoin can be found in the company of his 4-legged companion Layla.

Back to main list