Competition time!

As the summer holidays are officially here, we launched our brand new competition on Tuesday

One lucky person will win £100 WH Smith vouchers! You’ll be able to stock up on Hello Kitty, Angry Birds or Spiderman notebooks, pens, pencil cases and other stationery whether your child is starting reception year at school, or is already at school. 

To enter, all you need to do is ‘Like’ our Facebook page and comment on at least one of our posts – it’s that simple!

This competition is open until Wednesday 6th August so, head over to our Facebook page to comment on today’s post, or any other post we make over the next couple of weeks.

Good luck!

The Computershare Voucher Services team 

Are our childhood summers seen through rose-tinted glasses?

We’ve been reminiscing in the office, about what we used to do when we were younger, in our school summer holidays, and how times have changed. 

Many of our parents worked, so a lot of us used to go out with our friends or cousins on our bikes for the day. Some of us in the office used to go sightseeing, to the zoo or beach with our friends parents'. Some of the lucky ones would go and stay over with their Grandparents for a few days, where they would be spoilt rotten – those were the days.

As an adult, things appear to be very different and less fluffy. The pressures of work and the lifestyles we lead are a lot busier. Immediate family is often more spread out and not practical for informal childcare arrangements. Often parents stagger their annual leave and take it in turns to take time off to cover their childcare needs. However, there is now a network of holiday clubs and playscheme providers, as well as activity holiday companies, who can all help fill any childcare gaps over the 14 weeks of school holidays. But it doesn't necessarily come cheap.

How to find childcare over the school holidays…

  › Childcare is provided by private organisations, schools or local authorities. It’s worth asking at your child’s school about extended services available during the holidays, or visit your local authority’s website.  

  › Take a look at www.childcare.co.uk, www.netmums.com or www.mumsnet.com and search for childcare in your area.

  › Computershare works with a selection of activity holiday providers to offer a range of discounts – take a look at our website for further information. 

  › Log in to your Computershare account and search by carer name, carer ID or postcode to see which carers are nearest to you and registered with CVS. If you already have a carer in mind, but they’re not registered with Computershare, they can be added for free.

  › Did you know you can use your childcare vouchers to pay for holiday childcare? The most common providers include: 
    o Holiday clubs and playschemes (often part of the governments’ extended schools agenda)
    o Residential activity holiday and day camp providers
    o Childminders

Here are some tips on using your childcare vouchers for holiday cover…

We hope you have a great summer with your children, whatever you get up to!

Did you get the school places you wanted?

For many parents in the UK, this Easter weekend brought the news of their child’s primary school place*.

Now the news has sunk in, the countdown’s on to your child’s first day at school!

Don’t forget our top tips for preparing for school: 

Establish a routine – the more you practice, the more you’ll get used to the school run! 

Keep your paperwork – so you can keep track of school holidays and procedures 

Organise childcare – to cover the beginning and end of the school day!

Don’t forget, you can continue to order the same amount of childcare vouchers when your child starts school, and even save up leftover vouchers for care during the holidays!

A parent’s experience 

Our latest video features one parent’s experience of preparing her daughter for school with us. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel.

We hope you got the school you wanted – and good luck with getting started!

*Find out more about admissions in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

 

Taking the hassle out of managing your childcare voucher account

How many accounts do you manage online? Nowadays we all have so many passwords to remember and online accounts to keep on top of, and, as a busy parent, managing a family’s finances and lifestyle is an ongoing challenge.

This is why we are committed to helping the parents that use our scheme to manage their childcare vouchers more efficiently. We’ve recently made some improvements to our online accounts, based on feedback from our customers.

The top three new features for parents:

1. Dashboard - we’ve created a new Dashboard to allow parents to see their balance, upcoming orders, account details and other options – all in one place. They’ll also find quick links to make transactions and update your settings – saving valuable time!

2. Refreshed interface and improved navigation – if you’re new to our scheme, you may notice that we’ve updated the look and feel of our Registration page to match the style of our main website, offering a more intuitive experience for you. Our new menu offers quick links around the site when you’re not logged in to your account, helping you find the information you need, faster!

Feedback from parents has helped us to make paying a carer a quicker process. We’ve restructured our drop-down menus so that carer transactions are all in one place and placed a quick ‘make a payment’ link on the carer menu to reduce the time parents spend managing their account.

3. e-Voucher Balance Display - as well as displaying on the Dashboard, parents’ available account balance is now displayed throughout the online payment process, without having to go back and double-check.

We provide a free online account where parents can edit their voucher order, pay carers, and keep personal details up to date. If you are a parent who currently receives paper vouchers, it’s easy to start managing your order online!

We hope these new features will help parents manage their vouchers quickly and easily. We’re keen to hear what you think so please send your feedback to customerfeedback@computershare.co.uk

Are you ready to start school?

Getting ready to start school can be a big step for both you and your child, whether or not they've been going to a nursery or playgroup.

For parents in England and Wales, the deadline for submitting an application for Reception Year admissions is in January* each year.

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Preparing for school 

You’ll have so much to think about in the run-up to the first day of school in September! Here are my three top tips:

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Establish a routine - This includes getting dressed, doing the school run, getting to know the school grounds and getting used to being apart from your child. The more you practice a routine, the easier it will be when term begins!

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Keep your paperwork - Keep all your correspondence with the school and local council filed together, and mark important dates on your calendar. This will come in handy for remembering school holidays and procedures.

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Organise childcare - Your child may have access to school-run activities. ‘Wrap around’ care may also help you to cover the gap between the beginning and end of your working day and the school day. With 14 weeks of school holidays each year, you can use a variety of child-minders, holiday clubs and activity holiday providers. You can usually use childcare vouchers to pay for all of these!

A parent’s experience

For our latest video, one parent shared her experience of preparing her daughter for school with us. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel.

If you have a child in school, we’d love to hear what the process was like for you- why not let us know in the comments section?

 

Rising childcare costs

The rising cost of childcare is a factor in the recent Government consultation on childcare vouchers, and I’ll be keeping you up to date with its progress.

According to Family and Childcare Trust research, parents are paying nearly £4,000 per year for two children to be looked after before and after school! What’s more, childcare in the school holidays can account for almost 20% of your wages during those weeks.

To cover your working hours, extra-curricular activities can help to extend the school day. Our Parent Survey in 2013 revealed that of the parents whose children do an extra-curricular activity, 51% don’t use vouchers to pay for it, and haven’t checked if their provider accepts them! Have you?

Good luck with getting your child into your preferred school – if you’re in England and Wales you should get your allocation confirmation in April*.

With kind regards

Julian

 

*Find out more about admissions in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

 

 

Childcare costs exceed mortgage repayments

Paying for childcare remains a huge, and in some cases, crippling burden on family budgets - which is no surprise when you look at the figures.

Families are now spending more on part-time childcare per year than the average person pays towards a mortgage, according to the Family and Childcare Trust. In their annual report the charity reveals part-time childcare costs for a family with two children have overtaken the average UK mortgage bill by 4.7%. 

The cost to have one child in part-time nursery care and another at an after school club adds up to an eye-watering £7,549 a year, while a full-time nursery place for a child under two now costs around £9,850 a year.

So it is little wonder that many of the parents we speak to are having to seriously consider whether it is worth going to work.

While in the short-term employers can help working parents by offering childcare voucher schemes and flexible working, long-term we believe the system simply has to change.

Additional support for working parents to help them manage spiralling childcare costs is something we have long been campaigning for at CVS and we will continue to fight in the corner of working parents on this issue.

We agree with the Family and Childcare Trust that more support for parents is essential and call on Government to take immediate action to do more to help working parents.

You can view the full Family and Childcare Trust survey here. If you’re a parent, childcare provider or employer and would like to find out more about childcare vouchers, then please visit our website.

Julian