Can On Demand Childcare help Working Parents?


This week saw the release of the Family and Childcare Trust's annual Childcare Survey.  The 2017 report shows that childcare costs continue to spiral upwards at a higher rate than inflation, resulting in increasing pressure on family budgets, with some families committing 45% of their income towards childcare. Some highlights from the report:

  • Average of £116 per week for a part time nursery place for a child under two
  • Childcare costs more than double what a family spends on food and drink
  • For many families, going back to work can be cost neutral or even negative

The report looks at the costs of childcare - either from a nursery, or from a local childminder and breaks this down by age group and region.

Childcare for under-threes

For parents who work part-time, they can expect to use 25 hours of childcare per week.

For children under two in the South West parents can expect to pay £113.29 a week for a nursery, or £103.92 for a childminder.  This is lower than the national average, which is highly skewed by London (£154.08 for a nursery and £156.67 for a childminder).

For children aged two there is little change - £110.89 a week for a nursery and £104.73 for a childminder in the South West.

Parents that work full-time and put their children in childcare for 50 hours per week - up to 10 hours a day for 5 days a week, can expect significant costs - typically just less than double the part time costs.  In the South West for a child under two this could be £236.50 for a nursery and £200.29 for a childminder.

Childcare for three to four year olds

Once your child reaches three you are entitled to government support - in England this is 15 hours per week during term time and will rise to 30 hours per week later this year for working parents.

The report shies away from detailing the costs of regional childcare for this age group due to the lack of data.  Parents typically use the free hours and then extend either with the same nursery or use another childminder for the remainder of their working week.

Many nurseries lose money on the 'free' allowance, and therefore skew the paid hours upwards to make their business viable.  This makes it difficult to accurately portray these costs.

Childcare for children in school

Once your children start school your childcare costs at last start to come down (to be replaced by many items so we can't get too excited!)  However, for working parents the gap from the end of school until the end of your working day is still a challenge - and typically parents will make use of an after school club or childminding service.

The report shows that parents in the South West can expect to pay £51.04 a week for an after-school club and £68.80 for a child minder.

How can On Demand Childcare help?

On Demand Childcare such as that provided by Kowalah is never going to totally replace the service provided by a local nursery that provides full time care for your children through the week.

A local nursery or registered childminder benefits from the Government funding of 15 hours per week (soon to be 30 hours in England).  Additionally, by looking after a larger group of children at once, the nursery or childminder's costs can be spread across a larger number of parents paying a reduced fee (current regulations in England mandate a registered childminder can look after a maximum of 6 children under the age of eight, and a maximum of 3 of those can be under five years old).

However, what we increasingly see, are mum's and dad's going back to work in a non-traditional way:

  • Part-time work on a flexible schedule
  • Ability to work from home
  • Setting up their own business

This opens up opportunities for parents to take on more of the childcare role, or at least reduce their reliance on a full-time nursery.

Around half of the booking requests on Kowalah are for day time childcare and can include:

  • Morning school runs - getting kids dressed and in to school on time
  • School pick-ups - getting the kids home and helping with homework
  • Support with pre-school kids at home while parents work at home or travel to meetings

Many of these bookings are ad-hoc and short notice.  We see parents booking during an evening because they've just had a meeting arranged for the following morning, and we see bookings during the day because a meeting is extended into the afternoon.

We see On Demand Childcare becoming increasingly important to parents looking for flexibility and speed in their overall childcare mix.

About Kowalah

Kowalah is a mobile app delivering On Demand Childcare by connecting parents with local babysitters and providers of childcare.  Parents are connected with up to 5 available Kowalahs in 15 minutes giving them speed and flexibility.  All Kowalahs have been interviewed and referenced providing parents with peace of mind.