You need flexible childcare, such as weekend childcare or care to cover irregular shifts, but all the nurseries in your area seem only to provide standard hours and you need to pay for childcare even if you are self-employed and do not work regularly. What to do?
Workingmums.co.uk is highlighting some of the flexible models it has come across which aim to plug this gap, a gap which will only grow bigger as more and more women turn to the self employment route. Flexible care is not the same as emergency childcare as it is aimed at addressing ongoing childcare needs rather than one-off emergencies.
Yvette Oliver-Mighten set up @Home Childcare in 2005, a flexible home childcare and training provider. “I realised that there were gaps in childcare provision, the biggest of which was flexible childcare,” she says.
Based in Nottingham and Sheffield, it offers wraparound childcare in the home, including care for the children of shift workers, pick-ups from after school clubs and nursery for those working late and drop offs in the mornings plus holiday and weekend childcare. The childcare is provided in the parents’ home and can be used on a pay as you go basis, with a flat rate of around £3.70 an hour per child being charged to make it more affordable.
Parents who use the service include council workers using after-school care from 3.30pm – 6pm; lone parent working shifts, using before and after-school care from as early as 6.30am and up until 9pm; lone self-employed parent using after-school care until 10pm plus three full days per week during school holidays; and two teachers using term-time only care from 7am.
Many of the people who work for @Home Childcare covering short hour demands such as after school pick-ups are students or older people, such as grandmothers, who are given appropriate training. Longer hours such as those needed by shiftworkers are covered by experienced childcare workers who want to work in the home. One family where both members are ambulance workers and work shifts have three carers – one main carer and two back-ups.
Shazia Mustafa set up Third Door, a place where parents can work from and leave their child in the onsite nursery and pay only for what they use. She is passionate about the idea of providing business and childcare facilities for parents of pre-schoolers, whether they are freelancers, people working from home or people setting up their own businesses and Third Doorfunctions not just as a work centre, but will also create a sense of community. The first Third Door centre opened in Wandsworth.
The childcare was initially being contracted out to a company and parents had to book their slots in advance. The nearer to the dates they book, for instance, if they can only give 24 or 48 hours notice, the more the childcare will cost as the childcare provider may have to bring in extra workers to keep to the child/carer ratios set by Ofsted.
Lucia Borraccino’s Nanny Network is a childcare business which caters to the growing needs of a more flexible workforce, particularly the kind of creative types increasingly attracted to London’s East End. More information
Other options include https://yoopies.co.uk, which offers flexible childcare solutions ranging from nannies to babysitters. Granny Au Pairs is a network of German-speaking granny au pairs who can not only look after children, but teach them a language. Studentnannies.com is a new site that matches students with parents, offering flexible childcare options. And in Bristol, mums have joined together to form Caboodle, a flexible childcare and workspace for self employed parents.