Affordable childcare options


By:  Katie Eastment

Childcare can be expensive, but for parents who don’t want to let their career go, or those who financially don’t have a choice, childcare is an essential of life.

For working parents who want to make a seamless return to work, it’s imperative to look for a solution that matches their family’s needs and is within their budget.

It’s worth taking some time to consider what’s important to your family. For example:

  • Is it more important for your carer to be close to home or work?
  • What level of flexibility do you require?
  • Other than care for your child, are there any additional services you need around the house?
  • Do you have a close by friend or family member in a similar situation?

The answer to these questions will help you to determine which of the options below might suit your family!

Childcare centres


The most common options for childcare include long day care and centre-based care, which provide a structured environment that encourages socialisation and independence.

However, the structure provided to children in traditional childcare can mean less flexibility with days, hours and prices for parents.

You may be eligible for government assistance through the childcare subsidy if you or your partner meets the requirements.

Eligible childcare options include centre based day care, approved home-based care, crèches, playgroups, Kohanga Reo, Punanga Reo, Aoga and other programmes with a language and culture focus.

Plus, the government will subsidise up to six hours a day for up to 20 hours a week for children between three and five years old at eligible ECE service or kōhanga reo.

Au pairs


An au pair is someone who lives with a host family and helps to provide flexible care for their children; in return, the host provides room, board and a small stipend.

While the cost can vary depending on the facilities you provide, an au pair is often cheaper than hiring a full-time or part-time nanny. As host families must provide board, they are most suited to those who live in larger homes so that all parties can have some private space.

Au pairs are a great option if you’d like to expose your children to foreign cultures, and possibly languages. However, au pairs have far less training than other care options, which means they are usually a better option for families with older children.

A nanny-share


Nannies are one of the most flexible childcare options, caring for your children in your home and on your terms. Hiring a full-time nanny can be costly because it means paying a full-time salary, plus tax and super.

If you have a friend or neighbour who is in a similar position, you might consider a nanny-share. You can hire one nanny to look after all the kids at once, and split the cost.

Alternatively, if you need care at different times, the nanny could work for your family in the mornings and another family in the afternoon, or vice versa. This means you will both receive high-quality childcare in the comfort of your home.

Au pair and nanny duties can be diverse, so it’s important to be clear about your expectations of each other from the beginning. While some nannies provide an all-inclusive service with cooking and cleaning, others will prefer to keep their duties strictly care related.

It’s also vital to have clear guidelines about household expectations, such as bed times, nutritional needs and screen time. The specifics of your nanny’s responsibilities will be entirely up to you and will reflect your parenting style.

In-home childcare


Nannies are more of the most flexible childcare options

With such high overhead costs, its little wonder that even with the Child Care Rebate, traditional childcare centres can cost families a small fortune. In some parts of the country, childcare can cost as much as private school tuition, with families paying $240 a week.

In-home childcare centres are similar to traditional childcare, but they are run out of the comfort of someone’s home (and without all the extra running costs).

Under New Zealand law, all paid employees, including contractors, who work with children in state funded organisations must have a valid Safety Check. While the amenities may not be as impressive as traditional childcare centres; they are still just as functional.

All licenced childcare centres are held to the same health and safety standards, so while the savings can be significant, you certainly won’t be compromising on your children’s safety or education.

Additionally, in-home childcare is often very flexible, with some offering pick up and drop off services. Outside of standard working hours, many can offer care before and after school, during school holidays and even overnight or on the weekend.

General tips

  • Like everything in life, the best affordable childcare options will be snapped up early. Make sure you don’t leave your search until the last minute to make sure you find an affordable option with experienced caregivers.
  • If you’re looking into traditional childcare centres when working part-time, keep looking for a registered childcare centre that will let you book in for just the days you need. Don’t pay for five days of the week if you’re only using three or four.
  • Whichever avenue you end up going down, it’s important to have a backup plan for days when everything goes haywire and you can’t get the time off work to be at home. Grandparents, aunts and uncles or a close, reliable friend are all great options.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac.