These proposals mean not only that working grandparents could be allowed to make use of shared parental leave and pay entitlements to help care for their grandchildren but also that parents will have greater choice on childcare options, which could -in turn- affect those providing professional childcare services, such as nannies.
In the past 10 years the role of the nanny has changed significantly: many nannies now work for two families on separate days to make up a full week. The recent and increasing trend to advertise and offer only part-time positions is driven by a number of factors including improved and more flexible nursery care provision, greater parental access to part-time work and parents seeking the help of family or friends.
Such flexible childcare arrangements can, if consistent, provide children with a good experience. Grandparents tend to provide maternal-type care based on their experience of parenting: but grandparents tend to raise their grand-children in their own home so that the child is isolated from peer social groups. A nanny, on the other hand, may not come with that parenting experience but offers a professional perspective and expertise, using learned knowledge that invariably focuses on childcare requirements and the importance of providing set routines to encourage developmental needs. Moreover, nannies often socialise with other nannies and their charges, so encouraging the children in their care to develop friendships long before attending a school. It is not hard to appreciate how a combination of care from grandparents and a nanny (e.g. the nanny works two full-days and grandparents cover the remainder of the week) may actually offer a child the best of both worlds.
Quite how the government’s new proposals will facilitate or encourage these shared childcare arrangements remains to be seen …as will the impact on the profession. We’ll be watching this space with keen interest.