Finding holiday childcare; childcare for the summer holidays that won’t break the bank.

Font size


Finding affordable and reliable childcare is a challenge for most parents, but finding childcare during the summer holidays can be trickier. But it’s not impossible!

Finding holiday childcare
Most private nurseries are open throughout the summer holidays (although local authority ones may close) and there are other activities – although many don’t last all day. Your starting point should be the Families Information Service in your area. Go to your local authority’s website (you can find your local authority details on the website) and follow the links for childcare.

SAVVY TIP: The Families Information Service may have a slightly different name. My own local authority calls it ‘Informed Families’.

  1. 1. You may be able to search for holiday schemes with immediate vacancies if you need last-minute childcare.

2. Some local authorities produce a booklet with holiday childcare information. This may come down to how proactive your local authority is (and its budget). These are less available now most councils offer more online information about services.

3. Holiday childcare may be offered at your school. If there’s a breakfast and after-school club, find out if they offer holiday clubs as well.

4. Check with local sporting organisations. Football clubs, tennis clubs and riding stables may offer holiday activities for children.

5. Watch out for age restrictions. Many schemes only take children from the ages of five to 11. Research by the Family and Childcare Trust has found that the biggest shortage of childcare was among children over the age of 12 and those with disabilities or special educational needs.

6. It can be difficult to find all-day childcare. Many organisations offer childcare between 10 am and 2 pm, but if you have to work all day that means arranging for someone to pick them up and care for them until you get home.

SAVVY TIP: An increasing number of providers recognise the market for all day care, so extend their days. The longest opening hours I could find were from seven in the morning until six at night.

Activity camps
There are lots of summer camps which run for a day or a week or longer.

Check: the range of activities. Are they all sports based? Not all children like racing around all day (although it does have the benefit of tiring them out!).

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but will give you some ideas about camps to try:

Summerfun4kids is a website that lists a range of residential and one day activities for children from 3+ years to 12+. You can search according to whether or not you want a residential camp, location and the age of your child(ren).

British Activity Providers’ Association: Companies that are members of the BAPA have to abide by a code of practice. You can search for day camp providers and residential camp providers (via the right hand menu) on the website.

SAVVY TIP: Coverage of the UK was patchy when I checked but the centres that were listed had a reasonable range of activities.

Camp Beaumont: This company has been going for over 30 years and runs day activities (mainly in and around London and the South East of England) and residential camps.

SAVVY TIP: You can sign up your child for multi-activity breaks or those that concentrate on specialist activities. The camps take children aged 8-17 and you can pay for the holidays in full or part using employer-based childcare vouchers. There are day camps in London for younger children.

Supercamps: another provider of multi activity day camps. It takes children aged four to 14.

SAVVY TIP: These centres have a mixture of sports and arts and crafts activities and are open from 8 am until 6pm.

Barracudas: this company runs day camps around the South East of England. It takes children aged 4½ to 16 years old – children must be five by 28th February to be able to go to a summer camp this year.

Related articles:

The government plans to give working parents help with childcare costs

Children’s savings accounts paying the highest rate of interest

Employing a nanny; how to sort out tax

SavvyWoman email newsletters: If you found this information useful why not sign up now to receive free fortnightly email newsletters with money saving tips and help? You can sign up at the top of any page on the website and your details won’t be passed to any other company for marketing purposes.