Here are some definitions of the different childcare options available to you as a parent in Oxfordshire, which may look obvious, but highlight some important distinctions! For full lists of local childcare services and further helpful information, please contact Oxfordshire Family Information Service on 08452 262636 or email [email protected]
...are freelance childcare professionals offering childcare in homes (yours or theirs) in return for payment. They MUST be registered. The age and number of children under 8 years (including their own) that they care for is set at registration. Parents and childminders negotiate the fees, the hours and the details of the day to day arrangements. Some childminders work together in groups to share support, resources and perhaps cover each other during illnesses and holidays. If using a childminder you have found through Daily Info's Services Offered or Jobs Wanted pages, do make sure that a) they are properly registered and b) that you have checked their references fully.
These offer childcare provision for children up to school age (although they may be registered for 0 - 8-year-olds) and vary according to provision. The basic types are:
Private Day Nurseries offer a year round service, places from 0-5 years, (the full range in not always offered) and are usually in permanent premises. Full or part-time daycare is on offer at a set rate, which may vary between nurseries or with the age of the child. Opening hours may cater for the working parent.
Work Place Nurseries are childcare provisions provided by an employer or by a private concern hosted by an employer on or near the workplace. They can take children from 0-5 years and cover the hours of a working parent. These may be restricted to children of employees. Some companies share the same facility and some have a limited number of open spaces.
Local Authority Nurseries can be a purpose built Nursery School or a Nursery class attached to a first School, conforming to similar standards. They fall under the remit of the Education Department. They follow the term pattern of local schools. There are no charges, but may be heavily over-subscribed, in which case it is vital to join their waiting list at the earliest opportunity, commonly when your child is 2 years old, although children are not usually offered a place until they are 3 or 4 years old. Subscription depends on birth rate as well as how good the establishment is!
... offer ad hoc, casual childcare, eg. for people who don't have regular childcare and need to attend a meeting for a couple of hours. Some creches are attached to a shop or organisation (many local leisure centres have them) and some are independent. Some childminders and nurseries in Oxfordshire offer a creche facility.
Pre-Schools (formerly known as Playgroups)
...provide care and education for children aged 3-5 (sometimes 2-5) years on a seasonal basis during term-time. They aim to provide learning experiences through structured play activities working to an early years curriculum. There is a high ratio of staff and helpers to children. Most staff have a qualification in early years education. Parental involvement is encouraged in all aspects of pre-school. Many are community-based, run on a charitable basis by a Parent's Committee. Fees are set at a minimum and some assistance is available for those experiencing financial difficulties. Some schools may offer extended hours, Special Needs provision and provision for children under 3 years.
Afterschool and Holiday Care
Usually running outside of school hours in term time, in schools or community centres, for children aged 5-11 years. Times of opening and charges vary between schemes/clubs but check out our family-friendly events listings for up-to-date information.
Here's one you can try...
The Barns, The Straight Mile, Upper Campsfield, Woodstock OX20 1PW (Administrative Offices)
Tel: 01865 594325, Email: [email protected]
Oxford Active is the main company behind Active Camps (holiday camps with locations in Oxfordshire, Wokingham, Berkshire, and Kent), Active After School Clubs (after school care across Oxford), and Active Adventure (summertime outdoor adventure holiday camps at Blenheim Palace and Cogges Farm).
...offer childcare in the child's own home, either on a daily or live-in basis. Unlike all the previous types of childcare, there is no legal requirement to register Nannies with Social Services unless they are caring for children from three different families. Nannies and parents must negotiate salary, hours and days of work and other duties, with parents acting as employers. They are responsible for National Insurance contributions, tax, conditions of employment etc. Sharing a nanny between two families can be cost effective. Au Pairs are usually young people, often from abroad, who may come to study English and accept board/lodging and low pay in return for childcare and time off to study.
Once again, if employing via our Services Offered or Jobs Wanted pages, do make sure that you have checked your new employee's references fully.