Expat Guide

Children and Parenting

These days you can find most information via the Internet. But Local libraries and parents' centres have a “Parents Information Point,” you can likely find the local parents centre in your white pages under your city Parents Centre. If not, your library should be able to tell you. Parents Information Points will have information about many different parenting issues as far as local services, childcare, and education. There will also be contact information regarding childminders and other children’s services.


  • Childminders - Childminders care for your child in their home. They can provide full-time, part-time and flexible day care, usually between 8am and 6pm. The must be registered with Social Services and have insurance. It is best to have a written contract to specify fees, holidays, and other issues. You can get a list of childminders in your area from either a Parent Information Point, or by calling your local county Social Services office. Childminders are registered to look after a maximum of 6 children under 8 years old, including their own, and a maximum of 3 children under 5 years old. Costs start at £2.10 per hour and upwards per child.
  • Day Nurseries - Day Nurseries provide care for children up to the age of 8 years old. They may be run privately, commercially, or by workplaces. There will be one adult for every 8 children from 3-5 years old, and a higher ratio if there are children under three. Not all nurseries will take children under the age of 2, and may require them toilet-trained. Costs range from £3-5 per hour, full time or part time.
  • Mother's Help - Mother’s Help is someone who looks after children in a family and also helps with household duties. They live outside of the home and are not required to be registered. You can expect to pay them about £4 per hour.
  • Au Pairs - Au Pairs come from abroad to live with the family and assist with children and housework. They are not currently required for registration as au-pairs are only meant to assist the parent whilst learning English. Most register with an agency to find work and some of these agencies run basic checks, however it is advisable to consider organising your own police checks. There are limits to their daily maximum hours and require 2 days off per week. Besides room and board, you can expect to pay them an allowance starting at £40 per week.
  • Babysitters - If you’re looking for the occasional babysitter, it’s been suggested to me by many different people to speak to the offices of the local college where they offer nursery nurse training/classes. The class tutor there might be able to connect you with someone reliable for the job. Be sure to check references, etc. You could also try advertising in your local paper, or asking other parents at school/playgroups/nursery or neighbors if they know anyone they’d recommend. You can also try your local church.
  • Nannies - Nannies look after your child in your own home, they are not registered. Trained nannies will have a recognised qualification. They take complete care of the child in the absence of the parents and it is vital to get references from previous childcare employment and following them up personally. If you are using an agency, check their policy of personal checks and references. Nannies are responsible for every aspect of the child’s care, but do not carry out housework in any other rooms other than the child’s and their own. Working arrangements can be flexible. Some live in with the family, others are employed daily, and sometimes more than one family share a nanny. If more than two sets of parents arrange to share a nanny, they must register with social services the same as a childminder. It is also important to have an employment contract. Employers must also pay employment taxes such as National Insurance and Income Tax. Cost from £120-150 per week.
  • Creche (Nursery) - Creches are services with provide childcare for an occaisional limited period of time. They enable parents to follow other activities on the premises. These can be found in some shopping centres, conferences, and leisure centres.
  • Parent/Toddler Play Groups - Parent and Toddler Groups meet for an hour or two once or twice a week. The parent or carer is responsible for their child during the session. Try your local parents centre, Parent Information Point, or ask your Health Visitor.
  • Out of School Care - Out of School Care schemes are a home from home atmosphere, and provide snacks or meals. They may be run by a local authority, voluntary, or by community groups. The scheme must be registered with social services if children under 8 attend. They are often at schools before and after school. Speak to your local school offices. There are also holiday play schemes. Try your local city run lesiure centre. After school clubs tend to run about £8-10.00 per day and may include dinner. Holiday clubs cost IRO of £19-25.00 per day. Expensive if you have more than one child.

If your household is entitled to tax credits, there is a child care element to this which can help with up to 75% of child care costs and crucial to some families.

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