Childcare costs prompt Worthing mum to set up own business

Jo Heffer and daughter Freya

Jo Heffer and daughter Freya

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SPIRALLING childcare costs have prompted a Durrington mum to set up her own childminding service.

After finding they could no longer afford to pay the escalating costs of sending their daughter Freya to nursery, Jo and Ray Heffer decided to set up Little Tipi Childcare.

Jo, who already had 11 years’ work experience in childcare, said: “Before we had our daughter, I worked in a number of childcare settings, from hospitals to nurseries and then most recently, five years as a community nursery nurse assisting health visitors.

“I had always seen childcare from the other side and didn’t actually realise how expensive it would be when it was time for me to need help looking after my own child.”

Jo, 29, took the decision to start her own childminding service towards the end of last year. Freya, nearly two, began suffering with health problems such as eczema and asthma, meaning Jo had often paid in advance for nursery childcare, which she was unable to use while her daughter was unwell.

She said: “Nurseries are businesses and don’t offer the flexibility many parents need. While childcare is vital and for the money paid, a very good-quality service is provided, for many people with rising bills to pay for, sending their child to a nursery means they may as well not work. It’s just too expensive.”

To become a childminder, Jo had three briefing session, with West Sussex County Council and registered with education watchdog, Ofsted.

After getting the go-ahead, she then completed a six-month course for setting up home-based childcare at Northbrook College, and finally gave up her full-time work.

Jo said: “It was a daunting thing to do. It’s completely different working on your own, but I feel confident because of my background and experience.

“It was important for me to offer an affordable, flexible service, so I’m happy to work outside of the standard 7.30am to 6.30pm hours if parents require me to, and I also offer ad-hoc childcare.

“The best part is obviously being able to be a full-time mummy to my daughter and, hopefully, provide a valuable service to my community.”

Jo and Ray, 34, have equipped their home with two dedicated play areas to provide a stimulating environment for children.

For more information, visit www.littletipi.co.uk.