Now H is three, I’ve been thinking about whether we should look for some daytime childcare for him. We didn’t use nurseries etc with the older two, but I also didn’t have two school-aged children that I was working with either!
I’m not entirely sure yet if childcare for a day or two is the solution for us, or even if it’s the right thing for H. But it’s something that’s been on my mind and, whilst we have some downtime over the next few weeks it’s something I’ll be giving more thought to.
Childcare can be a bit of a minefield in terms of finding the right one for you. Childcare.co.uk got in touch to ask me to take a look at their site and it seemed like a good place to start in terms of thinking about what our options might be for H.
What is Childcare.co.uk?
My first thoughts were that childcare.co.uk was probably a version of the Ofsted website (who register and inspect childcare providers) but maybe a much more colourful site, and perhaps it might offer a way to interact with the provider. It seems that it’s actually much more than that. It has a TrustPilot rating of 9.6 (which is pretty impressive) and it’s a really simple and brilliant way to find anything from regular childcare such as a nursery or childminder all the way to a private tutor, a baby sitter or a nanny.
It offers much more than looking for a nursery or childminder and, despite the wealth of information, it is pretty easy to navigate.
How does childcare.co.uk work?
When sites offer to search for a range of things I’m never quite sure how good it will be at narrowing down the things that I want to search for but, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with childcare.co.uk! I decided to search for nurseries and from there I could narrow it down to different types of settings, such as after school clubs, pre-schools, playgroups, holiday clubs and all other manner of things. This helped me eliminate some providers pretty quickly.
You can search for settings around a postcode (your home or work postcode perhaps) and set a distance you’d be happy to travel. Playing around with these will give you more or fewer results and from there you can start to dip into the detail.
Looking at the results of a search
The results of the search you make are really clear and easy to look through. The search provides you with a profile picture, and information about the provider such as the hourly rate, the distance from your chosen postcode, details of when they last logged into the site and the option to click for more information.
Clicking for more information shows you a summary of what the provider offers as well as their current availability (but remember this is only as accurate as the provider makes it- this is where the last login information is useful).
There’s the option to message a provider, which you can do after setting up a free account (which is really quick and simple to do) and there you can send them a quick message to clarify or confirm any information.
There’s a lot of information provided that can help you narrow down your choice, and some providers also upload documents for you to take a look at.
I was intrigued to see that you can also search for babysitters. We are lucky in that my mum is happy to babysit for us in the evenings, but if she’s away and something comes up we are a bit stuck for someone to stay with the children.
I had a look at this and was pleasantly surprised at the number of babysitters in our area and the professional level of them. Many are ex-teachers or childcare students and many appear to have uploaded their DBS certificates and provide details of their experience. It’s really handy to have this in one place and was interesting to see that the babysitters in my area had all, mostly, logged into the site in the last 24 hours, which suggests that it is well used.
It’s also great to see reviews left by other users which helps to add to the picture of the provider you might want to use.
I have to say I am really pleasantly surprised by childcare.co.uk and the breadth and depth of its information. I wasn’t sure it was going to offer much more than the Ofsted site, but it actually offers tons more and provides a lot of added value too. It is also (dare I say it?!) easier to navigate than Ofsted’s site, and, after a while, the childcare inspection reports can get a bit bland. Childcare.co.uk offers a more real picture of a setting and I’ve already recommended the site in a home ed group to someone who was looking for a tutor
The site is really user-friendly and easy to navigate and the added extras including information about whether your child is ready for nursery and using popular searches helps when looking for your childcare provider.
All in all, I have to say I am really impressed, and over the next few weeks we will be using the site to look at the options available to us, locally, to see if a one day a week nursery spot is the right solution for Harry and us.