Childcare: it can be a circus- worthy juggling act for most parents and in October 2018 the Government Vouchers Scheme ended, leaving many families looking for alternative arrangements.
But worry not – we’ve come up with a guide to help – we’re nice like that.
Writing for LV= life insurance, Shannon Kyle (@ShannonDotKyle) finds out how parents are preparing for the end of the government vouchers scheme.
According to money expert and mum-of-two Emma Maslin (@MoneyWhisperer_), who runs The Money Whisperer website, parents should start by researching what’s out there.
‘Many schemes available to parents are poorly advertised and little known when it comes to school-aged children,’ she explains. ‘I’ve done a bit of digging and found many.’
Her list of schemes includes:
‘There are 14 weeks of school holidays per year and most parents only get a maximum of six weeks of annual leave, so there is a gap to fill for everyone,’ says Emma. ‘But looking into these options can save hundreds a year and it’s good for parents to know their rights.’
Despite the voucher scheme ending and the confusion over the ‘30 free hours’ scheme, parents shouldn’t despair – there are still many different options to choose from.
One in four working families uses grandparents to help with childcare, and the good news is they can earn extra pounds while doing it. Grandparents caring for grandchildren under the age of 12 could qualify for national insurance credits that can top up their income. See the government website on how to apply.
Holly Pither (@pitherpatter) is a new mum to Amelia, nine months, and runs the PitterPatterPither blog. She says she’ll be affected when childcare vouchers are stopped, but has taken steps to make things work for her.
‘Thankfully, my HR department told me about the changes, so I could apply in advance for the childcare vouchers, which I didn’t know you could do.’
In fact, you can apply for childcare vouchers before the scheme closes in October that you intend to use after the end date, as long as they apply before April 2019 – giving you an extra half a year of childcare discounts.
‘However,’ continues Holly, ‘eventually I want to use a childminder, and many don’t accept childcare vouchers, so I’m going to opt for flexible working instead.’
Holly plans on doing four-day weeks with two early starts and finishes.
‘My boss is a mum and so she just gets it,’ she says. ‘By being transparent and honest about what our needs are, we can make things work.’
Lucy Playford, (@HarrogateMama), who runs the Harrogate Mama blog, agrees that flexible babysitting is what works best for some parents. She has twin girls and a baby boy and often works from home.
‘I am self-employed, so I need to be flexible and find childcare for ad hoc meetings and events outside the home,’ she explains. ‘I use kids’ clubs during the holidays, grandparents, and shared childcare with other working parents. I have also put together a list of local reliable babysitters who I can call when I need them. For me it’s about flexibility.’
To find out a list of locally registered childcare providers in your area visit childcare.co.uk, who provide a list of childminders, nannies and au pairs by postcode.
Don’t let the fact that the government childminding vouchers scheme is closing leave you in the lurch. Whatever you choose to do instead, with a little planning and research, you’re more likely to find the alternative which works best for you and your family.
 Preschool Learning Alliance, 2017. Sector views and on early years funding and the 30 hour offer, https://www.pre-school.org.uk/sites/default/files/30-hour_and_funding_survey_-_pre-school_learning_alliance.pdf, Page 8