Many parents mistakenly assume that childcare vouchers are only for young children which may be because many organisations primarily market childcare vouchers to young families.
In fact, childcare vouchers can be used to pay for the care of children until the first September after their fifteenth birthday. Here Laura Czapiewski, Childcare Voucher Product Manager, looks at the benefits of using childcare vouchers for older children.
A large number of businesses tend to promote their family friendly policies primarily to young families or to mothers going on maternity leave, and use marketing materials depicting images of babies and toddlers. It’s not surprising therefore that some parents think that childcare vouchers are only for young children. There is an argument to suggest that businesses should be adapting their marketing materials and promoting their policies more widely, to parents with older children. Contrary to popular belief, childcare vouchers can be used to pay for the care of children until the first September after their fifteenth birthday or the first September following their sixteenth birthday if they are registered disabled.
It isn’t just working parents with young children that need support. Working parents with older children need support too. After all, the needs of working parents do not end when children start school, and many parents agree that the pre-teen and teenage years can be the most challenging – emotionally and financially! Yet many parents of older children are unaware of what they are entitled to.
So what can childcare vouchers be used to pay for?
Many parents associate childcare vouchers with traditional ‘childcare’ such as nurseries and nannies, and therefore fail to see their relevance for older children. Childcare vouchers cannot be used to pay for private school fees as they cannot be used to pay for compulsory education. However, they can be used to pay for things like holiday or community play schemes. They also cover the payment of residential holiday clubs, afterschool clubs and breakfast clubs held outside school hours and on school premises, or on premises where school activity is inspected by Ofsted (or the equivalent body for some independent schools). This can include payment of fees for overnight care, for instance boarding fees, provided that they are invoiced separately to the normal school fees.
How parents can make even bigger savings on their childcare costs
Childcare vouchers can be invaluable to working parents who can not always pick up their child from school straight away and have to leave their children in the care of day or residential holiday clubs. Edenred offers discounts at a range of day and residential holiday clubs, allowing parents to make significant savings, at the same time as highlighting the fact that childcare vouchers can be used by parents of older children to pay for atypical childcare.
The school holidays also have a great impact on businesses who can find it difficult to manage the needs of employees wanting to take leave at the same time. Parents may need to take time off from work to care for their children during the school holidays. By saving up childcare vouchers parents are better able to manage the costs of activities and holiday clubs, and are less likely to require time off due to a lack of childcare. Childcare vouchers can therefore be hugely important in helping both parents and their employers to get through the summer holiday season.
Why communicating the benefits of childcare vouchers to all parents is crucial
The key to ensuring parents of older children are able to take advantage of the benefits on offer is communication. When launching a family friendly benefit, it is tempting for businesses to use images of babies and toddlers in the promotion. However good providers should supply an array of materials designed to attract the interest of parents of older children, using images and messages relating to preteens and teenagers. Two way communication is also very important. Surveying employees to find out the ages of their children can be useful because this allows businesses to properly tailor the benefits on offer to each employee. Once businesses have promoted a specific benefit to their employees, it is imperative that HR departments and line managers are fully aware of the scope of availability from these benefits so they can advise employees how and where they can be accessed.
Written by Laura Czapiewski – Edenred 6th march 2012