The Cost of After School Care
The kids going back to school can be stressful enough if you are a working parent, with after school care to organise and budget for. Bearing this in mind, we have put together a short list of options available which can help you cut the cost of childcare.
School-run after school clubs
The Scottish government introduced the out of school care (OSC) to provide childcare for working parents. There are currently 994 out of school care services in Scotland which are co-located in schools. They are mainly run by parent committees, independent or charitable organisations.
Cost will vary across local districts – each local authority has a Childcare Information Service which you can contact by email, phone or post to find out more information.
Childminders are self-employed so their fees can vary. The average cost for 25 hours is currently £98.15 per week. They’re paid hourly so can be more flexible and cheaper than a nursery if you don’t need care for the full 10 hours a day that nurseries offer. You may also be able to negotiate on price if you provide meals and snacks for your child, but this might not save you money overall.
All childminders must be registered so you can use childcare vouchers to help towards the costs. Depending on your agreement you might still have to pay the fees if you’re on holiday or your child is ill, but you might be able to discuss this if you give sufficient notice. Similarly, if your childminder is ill or on holiday you will have to find and pay for alternative childcare or take time off work.
If a childminder isn’t an option, you could ask family or friends who are free to help out on a regular basis. Usually this is grandparents who offer to help out for free, but there may be other people you know willing to help out for a lower cost – or even for free!
The website families online provides a list of clubs and classes for kids available in your local area. The activities on offer include sport clubs, music classes, dance lessons and even arts and crafts. This website is very handy as it allows you to filter the results provided based on postcode, clubs and classes available in term time only, and by day of the week.
Cheaper alternatives to childcare
As the costs of childcare keep rising, many parents have resorted to other ways to try and reduce the costs. The following list are a few ideas which are becoming common:
- Flexible working: can you and/or your partner change the way you work to reduce the hours of childcare you have to pay for?
- Split work and childcare with a colleague or friend: Can you work a job share or work different days so that you look after your friend’s child while they work and vice versa? If this idea sounds viable to you, there are some Ofsted rules relating to reciprocal childcare that you must follow. These rules may seem obvious, but if ignored could cost you up to £5000.
- Create a babysitting circle: if many of your friends have children, you should offer to babysit for free and they can then return the favour for you.
And lastly remember to budget…
When you have decided which childcare solution is right for you, remember that it should be included as a priority expense in your budget. As you require childcare services in order to work, you must ensure there are funds available to pay it weekly or monthly. Childcare services might affect other areas of your budget – less to spend elsewhere!
For example, your weekly food allowance may decrease if the childcare option you chose includes breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. However, travel costs may increase if you have to drop your children off and then pick them up.
We hope that the short list of childcare options we have provided proves helpful for you. However, if you find yourself still struggling with your finances, please do not hesitate to contact one of our advisers to discuss your options on 0141 326 0391.