Childcare options for young parents
Childcare is a really important decision for young parents to make - here are some of your options
If you’re pregnant or have had a baby recently, you might have taken some time of work or education to look after yourself and your baby. If you plan on going back to work or education, childcare is bound to be one of your big concerns. Don’t panic though. There are options out there. Take your time when considering which is the best option for you and your baby, and you’ll find an arrangements that works for you.
Things to consider when thinking about childcare
It’s great to gather as much information as possible when researching your childcare options. Here are some questions to consider when looking for childcare:
- How much can you afford to pay for childcare?
- How often do you need childcare? How much childcare do you need?
- Are there any local community childcare services where costs will be subsidised?
- How will I get to the service? Is there any transport available?
- Do I need childcare close to home, college, school or work?
- Would I like my baby to be cared for at home?
- What options do I have if my baby is sick one day and can’t attend childcare?
- What policies does my work or college have in relation to taking time off to look after my baby?
- Do I know anyone else who can advise me on their experiences with childcare?
Furthermore, make sure find out as much as possible about the childcare providers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes!
What options are available?
- Full day care. This is for children between 3 months and 6 years old, and it’s for over 3.5 hours a day. It’s monitored by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. It’s provided by both nurseries and creches.
- Sessional services. These services usually cater to children between 2 and 6 years of age, and consist of up to 3.5 hours. Providers of this service must have a recognised childcare qualification. Sessional services include Montessori groups, Parent and toddler groups, Naíonraí (Nursery schools or playschools operating through Irish) and Playschools.
- Childminders. Childminders care for children in the minder’s own home. They can care for up to 5 children under 6 years of age. It’s usually offered for the full working day or for different periods during the day. Parents and childminders arrange their own terms and conditions.
- Drop-in centres. These are available for short periods during the day and they’re often located in shopping centres, leisure centres and accommodation facilities.
- School-age childcare. This service is for schoolchildren, usually between 5 and 14. It includes breakfast clubs, after school clubs and school holiday programmes such as summer camps. At some services there might be homework supervision, planned activities or a meal.
Are there any low cost options out there?
The cost of childcare varies broadly. Some options can be pretty expensive, and some can be more manageable. There are a few schemes out there that can help you along with it:
- Community Childcare Subvention Programme: This programme allows disadvantaged parents and parents in training, education or low paid employment to avail of childcare at less expensive rates, provided by community based services.
- After-School Child Care Scheme: This programme is for employed parents who are on low-incomes. The scheme provides less expensive after-school childcare places to people with children of primary school age who find work, increase the number of days they work or take up a place on an employment support scheme.
- Childcare Education and Training Support Programme (CETS): This is for parents who need childcare, who have applied for a vocational training course provided by an Education and Training Board. It can provide full-time, part-time or after-school childcare places, at reduced rates.
- Community Employment Childcare (CEC) Programme: The Community Employment Childcare (CEC) Programme provides childcare at reduced rates for people who work in Community Employment who need childcare so that they can take up a place on a CE scheme.
- Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme: This provides a free year of childcare and early education for all children of pre-school age.
Friends and family members are a great resource for looking after your children, especially in emergencies. However, it may not always be an ideal situations. It’s important to remember that you’re friends and family members of lives of their own to manage, and they may not be able to help in looking after your child all the time. Although they may want to help, it’s worth having open and honest conversations with them about how much support they can realistically manage to give.