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  1. #1
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    "Childminders are cheaper and more flexible than nurseries, even though they follow the same EYFS standards for education, learning and development."

    I keep coming across the above statement, or something similar, on various Mummy discussion boards, publications and in conversation.

    So, simple question: how true is it?

    Do you lovely CMs really:-
    • Charge less than local nurseries and other EY childcare providers?
    • Offer more genuine flexibilty? (.....and it might help to know specifically what you mean by that vague term.)
    • Provide comparable or better standards of learning and development?


    Moreover, assuming we can broadly say "yes" to the above...... why then do we offer clients more than our sector competitors (nurseries) and deliberately choose to charge less money?

    Thoughts welcome; over to you........

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    Up to July 2017:
    My daily rate was not less than local nurseries, in some cases, a lot more but it was inclusive of meals, snacks, wipes, etc.. I was well qualified and experienced in early years and I was term time only and did not charge for holiday time or retainers, so in comparison, over a full week, I was better value....to a teacher parent ( who were my main clientele). I charged extra to funded children for outside hours childcare to ensure my daily rate was maintained when parents could access funding.
    But play schools/ centres were cheaper for a morning session than me by a lot.

    Flexibility : I was 8-5 term time only, similar to my local nurseries / playschools/ centres. But if I was needed earlier or later I usually had the children and rarely charged more than my daily rate as the children were often picked up earlier or dropped off later and I still charged daily rate. I was quite easy going on Times, it was something I offered as, having been a teacher I knew the issues that are out of parents hands regarding late leaving school, I offered a bespoke teacher service and charged accordingly. I often was ‘flexible’ and had the children in half terms if they mismatched with parents schools or extra days. But this was on an individual basis, I didn’t open all hours and I didn’t offer if I thought I was being taken for a ride. I became close to most of my families and they still visit so did help them out where I could, like taking them home and putting them to bed when the dreaded Ofsted call came to their schools.

    Better standards of learning and development: definately yes. The Parents paid for my experience and with only 3 children to care for/ educate they got almost a one to one education sometimes. I won’t list, but we all provide a more varied, individually tailored curriculum than any of the nurseries near me. I was the only outstanding practise in my area. I met up with other CM so the social, larger group issues were addressed too. My closest nursery employs the lowest level of childcare skilled people to be their key workers, some are great, but most are just young girls anxious to get home. I would meet them going to and at the playground, talking to each other about their social life with several children attached on reigns , little interaction. If I met childminders they were constantly interacting and chatting to the children.

    Perhaps I was in a unique situation, but I confidently charged higher hourly rates than nurseries because I was offering a better service. I believe that young children are better in a home situation than an institution. Once I was told that I was like a small private school rather than a childminder ...I discussed and debated this and proudly said I was a childminder...but I do think the words ..child and minder make people think that you are not the same as someone that ‘educates’ in a nursery or school, yet lots of us have worked in nurseries and schools and are actually offering a better service from our homes.

    I did think about charging extra for meals, which I did do for children in receipt of LA funding, like nurseries but at the end of the day, it cost me little and appeared a bonus / attraction to parents...my biggest ‘under payment’ was for retainers and holidays, but that suited me too, I did not want to work any time in holidays and if I did, it was on my terms.

    I think we should charge similar and hold our heads up high to being the same standard as nurseries ( or better) but in better homely premises for young children. In other countries CM’s are equal in all ways, the parents just decide the type of setting they want to send their children too. But we have to keep our numbers up to make a living wage so, like any business, some people alter charges to attract clientele. This enevitably then causes issues in a local area and I saw other CM’s fees drop because of this knock on effect. Some potential families did not come with me because on paper it looked like I charged high and the cost over rode the value they were getting. They eventually chose a CM who was graded inadequate because of their lack of knowledge and skills but was much cheaper than me.

    Interesting thread Bunyip.
    Last edited by FloraDora; 08-01-2018 at 01:52 PM.

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    I charge more than the local nurseries per hour, however, I am slightly more flexible in that I generally only charge for the hours contracted ( and hours over the top) so, if a parent wants 9.30-1.30, they only pay for 4 hours, rather than the whole day session that local nurseries would charge. I am also willing ( if I can! ) to help out families with extra hours/days, and have been the back up plan for several 'births'.

    I include everything in my fees and offer a lot more, as with only 3 or 4 small children, we get out and about every day. plus families can be kept together when they move onto school. only having a few children, means I do know each child 'inside out & back to front'. A mindee who is now at school, spent one day with me, and one at a local nursery. Their continuous 'complaint' was that the child was always climbing under or onto tables ( and didn't do anything else ) Whereas, actually, this child was always involved in a roleplay involving dens/mountains, and with support and encouragement, was 'moved' on from this play/this play was used to inform and encourage all the other learning that took place. They also informed mum that they had major concerns over language and communication development, and thought there may be an 'additional need' ... I had no concerns - superb language and communication skills and exactly where they should be developmentally wise - They just had not taken the time to get to know this 'naughty' child ( and nor had they obviously read ay of the observations I sent them! Never responded to any communication from me )

    my families all say that I am part of the family, not 'just the childminder' and someone they feel they can talk to/turn to when they have problem with their child, or tell me something their child has gone ... after all ... who else, apart from maybe grandparents, is going to be as excited as you when your child has just done a poo in the potty, started walking etc!!!

    I do have parents who enquire, but walk away when they hear how much my fees are - usually before they've understood that, that includes everything ( except nappies! )!


    I don't have a problem being called a 'childminder' and I know its been discussed many times, but sometimes I do think we need a 'better' name these days!

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    Great thread bunyip.
    I’m cheaper than my local day nursery but only by a small amount. I’m more expensive than the majority of other cms in my area , but then my fees are inclusive like loocyloo. I am more flexible if you consider longer hours flexibility. My practice is most certainly more flexible in terms of what we do as we can go out on a whim and almost tailor make our week to suit individual needs

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    I'm cheaper than day nurseries.

    I'm definitely more flexible from my perspective i offer ad hoc contracts. I allow parents to swap days if I can accommodate them. However some parents needs more flexible opening hours than what I can offer at the moment. It's only half an hour but cant be accommodated at the moment.

    Flexibility it's all from whose perspective.

    I offer a bespoke childcare setting at a price I'm happy with so don't need to compare to other childminders/nurseries
    When someone tells you nothing is impossible, tell them to go slam a revolving door

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    Interesting thread Bunyip

    Do I charge less than local nurseries and other EY childcare providers?
    On the 'per hour' rate, I feel I'm competitive, certainly with other providers, cheaper than a couple, more than a few, and in line with the rest, with a starting rate of £4.50 an hour
    I don't charge for "extra's", absolutely everything I need is accounted for in the fees I charge, so there are no 'surprises' later for parents financially.
    If I want to do a day trip, we go, at my cost, rather than having to ask parents for a contribution weeks in advance, which may or may not determine whether we even go or not.

    Offer more genuine flexibility? (.....and it might help to know specifically what you mean by that vague term.)
    Definitely!
    I can add additional days or hours at a moments notice - obviously within ratios, and am able to 'stay open' for much longer if needed, for example, in bad weather, a few years ago now, the roads were gridlocked, and parents were taking as much as 5 hours to do a 20 minute trip. Our local nursery, due to the incoming bad weather, actually closed early, about lunchtime, so their staff could get home, whereas I stayed open and kept the children safe with me.

    I've run errands for parents before now, collected parcels, shopping, etc (I offered as it was no skin off my nose, we were out and about anyway)

    I've provided food for parents that have been struggling due to changing from Tax credits to Universal Credit and not having any money coming in at all! (3 weeks they left her penniless for, UC are an absolute disgrace!)

    I've been able to juggle my rules a bit to ensure parents can cover deposits and fees when starting ie spreading a 4 week deposit over a few weeks rather than a lump sum, I know non of any local nurseries were prepared to do that

    I can be up and out quicker than a larger setting, we can change our daily plans at the drop of a hat, from going out to staying in. Again, our local nurseries and preschools have to plan weeks in advance for a group outing, *** that lol

    So yes, I consider myself flexible, in that, every element of my services can be changed.


    Provide comparable or better standards of learning and development?

    Better for the larger part - having a much more personal relationship with children enables us to spot any issues whether that be behavioural or learning much quicker than in a larger group setting. As noted by loocyloo, some children get 'lost' in a larger setting, or misunderstood, for all the wrong reasons - a quiet child gets overlooked as much as an overenthusiastic one gets 'mislabelled'.
    Having a lower turnover in staff/children again, contributes to a more consistent learning environment, and better relationships with both child and parent.
    We're able to provide more 1-2-1 for ALL the children, far more often, we're not limited to a 10minute session once month, as is the case with a preschool I know - once a month, for no more than 10 mins, as the 3rd keyworker since September has 26 other children
    Our knowledge base is far more extensive too, granted that comes with experience, but so many nursery staff have limited personal experience, or only know what they've read in books, which we all of course already know, the children haven't read the same books

    At the end of the day, we are all following the same document, which has already identified a childs general learning 'trend' so, the majority of children tend to achieve their EYO's at the 'right' time regardless of the setting attended, which makes us comparable statistically.

    Moreover, assuming we can broadly say "yes" to the above...... why then do we offer clients more than our sector competitors (nurseries) and deliberately choose to charge less money?
    Because we set the rules, and we tend to get emotionally involved/attached more than nurseries do, or can....
    Logistically, there has to be a 'working manual', a guide to follow.
    In a nursery there's a pecking order:
    Day to day staff - ensuring the paperwork side is covered and the needs of the children are met, no decisions allowed, refer parents to room leader
    The room leader - has the manual as their bible, has no wriggle room, has to micro manage the staff below them for the largest part, deal with parents daily and fends off any queries based on the rules in the manual, will refer pushier parents to the deputy
    The deputy - is told by the manager to follow the manual no exceptions, deals with parents regularly and ensures they follow the manual rules too, refuses to bend rules, will use previous payment history, or fact of no previous payment history as a means to refuse to bend the rules. Rarely do parents get beyond this point.
    The manager - whose job it is to ensure that everyone else follows the manual, who may also have been given some authorisation to deviate, but ultimately wants approval from the owner for doing their role efficiently without having to 'trouble' them with general day to day queries, and maybe concentrates more on the paperwork side of the business - chasing late payments for example lol, so never refers parents to the owner for consideration.
    The owner - who wrote the manual and has the final say in what does and doesn't happen, but never gets approached about bending those rules.

    For us:
    We wrote the manual
    we rewrote the manual
    we change the manual
    we alter the manual
    we consider the manual
    at the end of the day, I like this person, I'm gonna do whatever it takes to keep this person as a customer for the next xx years, so stuff the flaming manual

    Nurseries have a much higher turnover of children AND staff, they don't generally have the same longevity of client that we do, so there's less to 'invest' if that makes sense(?)

  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunyip View Post
    "Childminders are cheaper and more flexible than nurseries, even though they follow the same EYFS standards for education, learning and development."

    I keep coming across the above statement, or something similar, on various Mummy discussion boards, publications and in conversation.

    So, simple question: how true is it?

    Do you lovely CMs really:-
    • Charge less than local nurseries and other EY childcare providers?
    • Offer more genuine flexibilty? (.....and it might help to know specifically what you mean by that vague term.)
    • Provide comparable or better standards of learning and development?


    .

    I charge a comparable rate to the one and only local nursery as i now charge a day rate. (mine fits in with their under 2 rate so is slightly more than the over 2 rate, but minimally more) this means that my hourly rate is less than other childminders but i find it works better for me.

    I used to be superflexible and work long hours, do saturdays and do shifts and short sessions but it was impossible to then be flexible for other people or to be viable as a business - now i charge a day rate and if people need a whole day its good for them and if they don't then I will work out pretty expensive.
    I do work longer hours opening earlier than other childminders and settings (7.15 some days) and work to about 6 normally which is usual for childminders locally but a lot later than all the pre-schools and later than the nursery. Locally most childminders don't work 5 days, we don't work weekends (one does) and we don't do overnight care. although i start at 7.15 most of the other childminders were horrified at this time and didn't want it.
    I normally will except an extra one child if another carer is sick or parent has to work an extra day but try not to have over my 3 under 5's on a regular basis like I would have in my earler days of childminding (ratios and exceptions seem so much more confusing these days)
    I am term time only contracts so from that point of view not ideal for some parents but then i end up being pretty flexible in holidays and work a couple of days and always ask people to let me know if they're stuck as don't want to drop them in it! Most of my children are teachers children tho so works out for them better that they don't have to pay for the holidays!!

    I think comparably I offer a wider range of opportunities for outings, visits and experiences and I offer equal standards for learning and development but probably for resources I don't have the same range of continuous activities and so on, but I dont see this as a massive disadvantage, the children i look after have brilliant initiative and imagination and can create their own games and activities from what i do have here and I'm very child led so we normally have brilliant fun and I feel in terms of emotional attachment and individual care I win hands down As far as keeping up to date wih learning journals - no(!) I'm rubbish these days - I seem to be very disorganised in this area but I share photos with the parents, talk with them every day about what we've done and know the childrens progress and development well. I'm not sure why this is the case - I think spending hours on them previously and Ofsted and parents not really taking much of an interest demotivated me! When I came back after 2 years off I decided i was no way spending hours on paperwork - and i may have gone too far the other way

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    Love this thread.

    When I started out I was the same as local nurseries. They put their fees up shortly afterwards but I wasn't brave enough to do that - that's one thing that is harder for us to do with existing clients I think.

    I can be flexible on my terms, and so requests will be at least considered. For example, one mum wanted to go out for work Christmas drinks and so politely asked if dad could collect - but would be an hour later than normal. No problem. As long as I feel like I am not being taken advantage of then I am happy to do such things.

    We're also flexible in terms of food. Without pandering to the child we can cook their favourites more often and not provide a particular meal that they just do not like because someone in Head Office who has never met the child has designed the menu.

    For me, the one type of flexibility that I LOVE about childminding is with the type of activities we do, compared to a nursery/reception class school setting. So, if a child wants to spend all day looking for mini beasts under logs then they can, as opposed to having to go back inside because another class is timetabled for the garden, or because our timetable says that we have to go and learn something about the alphabet now. If a child needs a quiet, cosy day we can adapt to that more than a nursery could.

    Nap times is another area where we can be flexible. Most nurseries have nap times straight after lunch, but what about the children who have a morning nap instead? Yes, I know we like our mindees to all sleep at the same time, but we do accommodate nap times better - I have looked around a LOT of nurseries.

    I did have one prospective parent who asked about my fees and then said "Gosh, that's almost as expensive as a nursery! Do you offer any flexibility with fees?" I politely, but ever so confidently, told her that there was no flexibility with my rate and went on to describe why. I don't think I sounded big headed when describing myself, my service or my setting, but I think she agreed with me by the time I had finished, lol. I'm not an assertive person but I almost surprised myself with my own conviction and passion for why I should absolutely be on a par with nurseries when it comes to fees.

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    Really interesting reading all your responses, and thanks for taking the time.

    In my area, CMs are cheaper than nurseries in most cases. Some of us have higher 'on paper' fees, but still work out better value all in all. Taking 'flexibility' and Ts&Cs into account, you’d have to say families would pay a lot more to a nursery for what they get at a CM; that’s if they’d get it at all from a nursery.

    I’ve noticed a lot of local CMs don’t seem to use any sort of logical pricing procedure, or take account of costs or changes. It seems to be a system based entirely on inertia. When they start out, they just plump for to going rate that everyone else seems to charge, then feel tied to it, even when their expenses go up. There’s a huge reluctance to increase fees for any reason, which means they’re getting worse off all the time.

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    Interesting thread, Bunyip.

    I didn't know what the local nurseries are charging now so have been on a fact finding mission!

    They seem to charge £5 a day more than I do, but for longer hours. They offer a 10.5 hour day whereas I offer a 9 hour day. They include 3 meals a day whereas I only include lunch. I do include nappies, but the cost of those is minimal. None of my parents ever need a 10.5 hour day so I think they would begrudge paying for that at a nursery. I think my fees look cheaper than a nursery, but when you take into account the number of hours and what's included, I am actually more expensive. They also offer quite a reduction for a full week, which I don't.

    I set my fees according to how much I want to earn per day. I only offer care for EYs children so charge more than I might do if I had school aged children as well. I find a lot of my parents are willing to pay more for me being exclusively for EYs children and not having school runs to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maza View Post
    Love this thread.


    I did have one prospective parent who asked about my fees and then said "Gosh, that's almost as expensive as a nursery! Do you offer any flexibility with fees?" I politely, but ever so confidently, told her that there was no flexibility with my rate and went on to describe why. I don't think I sounded big headed when describing myself, my service or my setting, but I think she agreed with me by the time I had finished, lol. I'm not an assertive person but I almost surprised myself with my own conviction and passion for why I should absolutely be on a par with nurseries when it comes to fees.
    I did once have a parent who said when I put my fees up that I was as expensive as a Nursery and I said "Yes I think it's shocking that they charge so much for a 1 : 6 ratio (or even higher) that's not education and caring, that's just crowd control - with me your child is getting a 1 : 3 ratio and everything from the moment they arrive is a learning experience.

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    Oh hectors house I love that response! I'm going to remember that one!

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