Finding Childcare for Your Twins When Returning to Work
Many years ago in the days of our parents and grandparents, it was the norm for Mum to stay at home and raise the children while Dad went to work.
Nowadays that is but a dream for many parents, especially those of twins. With the cost of housing, food, electricity and petrol being so high, many new twin Mums are being financially forced to return to work.
The stress and pressure of not only having to find the best childcare option for their family, the guilt that goes along and the cost of paying for childcare is huge regardless of where you are living in New Zealand.
Thankfully there are plenty of genuinely affordable childcare options available for twins aged from three months up.
Types of Childcare Options in New Zealand for Twins
Private Early Childhood Centres
ECEs are incredibly popular with working parents because of the long hours they are open, including school holidays. They generally are dearer than an in-home educator but often include the cost of food in their fees. Staff at ECEs are on the majority fully trained in early childhood care and hold nationally recognised qualifications in this area. Most charge per half or full day, instead of per hour, with it working out to be about $8 per hour per child.
Rather than having to drop your child off to their carer, you can have a nanny come to you. Live out nannies are nowadays more common than live in, but the benefits remain the same. Your twins can stay in their comfortable home environment, you don’t need to ensure they are dressed and packed before leaving the house and the nanny can also help with basic housework such as cooking or doing the washing. Nannies usually work through an agency which is responsible for the training of their staff, but an individual nanny may hold ECE qualifications they’ve gained prior. A nanny charges per the hour and averages around $20-25.
An Au Pair is usually a young person from overseas who wants to help out with a family as a basis for earning some money while seeing the world. As a result, they do not normally have any formal childcare qualifications. They’ll live in your home with full board being provided by you and receive a payment of around $200 per week in return for a negotiated (usually fulltime) period of childcare each week.
There has been a huge influx of in-home education businesses opening up in New Zealand. The parent company is responsible for screening, supporting and training their educators, who in return receive a percentage of the hourly rate of their educators. Costing around $5-6 per child per hour, they have flexible working hours and care for your kids in their own home.
The long standing childcare option in NZ is a kindergarten. Generally, only accepting children from 3-6 years of age, some kindergartens have begun to enrol older 2 year olds too. They charge between $1-5 per hour per child depending on the region it is in. Kindy sessions are usually only for a morning or afternoon, though some will take children all day.
Community Childcare Centres or Crèches
Usually not for profit, these can be a lower cost childcare option. Though in saying that, you can still expect an hourly cost per child of around $5 per hour. Like ECEs, many staff will hold relevant qualifications and they have long opening hours.
New Zealand Childcare Subsidies
Depending on your income, your employment status, the number of children you have and how old they are, you may be entitled for financial payments to help you out with the cost of childcare.
Operated by Work and Income, the Childcare Subsidy is a way of helping pay the costs of childcare for your pre-school aged children under 5 years of age. It is based on you and your partner’s income, your citizenship status and that you are the fulltime caregiver for your kids. To receive this, your twins must be enrolled with a registered ECE provider. If you are not working or are training, you may get up to nine hours a week of paid childcare, though if you work fulltime or shift work at night, that can be raised to up to 50 hours. You can use the calculator on the Work and Income website to find out if you are eligible and how much you may receive.
20 Hours Free ECE
Once your twins turn three, they are entitled to receive 20 hours of free childcare per week at the registered ECE of your choice. This includes private ECEs, in home educators, community childcare centres and kindergartens. It is not income based and you can use those hours anytime during the week. It is paid directly to the ECE provider and you do not need to apply for it. You can find out more about this subsidy on the Ministry of Education’s website.
Choosing the best childcare option for you and your family is a hard process to go through. Take your time, visit the centres, chat with the staff and watch how your child interacts within the environment and the carers. Asking for recommendations from other parents is also a great way to work out which ECE options you should look into further too. Remember, it is your choice and your gut feeling is usually the best one to listen to when it comes to identifying the right childcare option.
Let us know your thoughts on child care options for twins and how much you pay per week.