Help getting childcare

Caring for children often becomes more difficult when someone in the family has cancer. You may have been diagnosed with cancer yourself, or be caring for someone who has cancer. Either way, you may be finding it hard to care for your children how you would like to.

This can be upsetting, but don’t feel guilty about asking for help. Family and friends are often more than happy to help by taking children to school or with everyday tasks such as shopping. This can give you more energy to do fun things with your children.

You could also speak to your employer about more flexible working hours. Many offer home-working or flexitime. Social services can provide practical support and there are also charities with experienced volunteers who can visit your home to help with childcare. There are options available if you are struggling to cope.

It is also a good idea to tell your child’s school or nursery so they can support your child too. Most children adapt surprisingly well to changes in family routine. They often learn that being part of a family means asking for and giving help when it’s needed.

Help getting childcare

Cancer and its treatment often disrupt family life and normal routines. As a result, your childcare needs may change and you may need more support to look after your children.

This information looks at different childcare options when a parent or carer has cancer. It also includes information about the support that’s available to help you look after your children. We also have information on talking to your children when you have cancer.

We hope this information answers your questions. If you have any further questions, you can ask your doctor, nurse or social worker.


Arranging childcare

Cancer and its treatment often disrupt family life and normal routines. As a result, your childcare needs may change and you may need more support to look after your children. Caring for children often becomes more difficult when someone in the family has cancer.

You may have been diagnosed with cancer yourself, or be caring for someone who has cancer. You may need to make frequent visits to the hospital for tests and treatments, or to see your specialist. You may find it difficult to do all the things you used to do. As a result, you may be finding it hard to care for your children how you would like to.

This can be upsetting and difficult to accept. But this situation is usually temporary. After you finish your treatment, you will gradually get stronger and be able to do more.

Try not to feel guilty. It can be difficult to ask for help, but with the right support, some of the stress can be reduced. Then the time you spend with your children is likely to be more enjoyable and relaxed.

It’s important to ask for help when you need it. Social workers can be a useful contact and source of support. They can advise you about the childcare that’s available in your local area.

You may find our information on talking to your children when you have cancer useful.


Help looking after children

There are several sources of help that may be available to help you care for your children. These suggestions may give you some useful ideas.

Informal support

For some people, support from family and friends is enough to help them care for their children. A family member may be able to do some of the things you usually do. Children often adapt to this and can learn that it’s part of what it means to be a family. Family or friends to do practical things like housework, cooking or shopping. This can give you more time to spend with your children.

Family and friends can often help with day-to-day activities, such as picking up your children from school and nursery or taking care of them when you have hospital appointments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, no matter how small the amount of help is. People are usually happy to help and are just waiting to be asked.

It’s a good idea to let your child’s teachers know about your illness. They can then help support your child while at school or nursery. There may be specialists that you can talk to, such as a school nurse or child psychologist. They can help support your child with what they might be feeling. They may also be able to offer extended hours or an after-school club.

Social Services

Social services provide a variety of care options and support for children, their families and carers. They will assess your needs and, sometimes, it’s possible for them to provide a package of care. A care package is a combination of services put together to meet a person’s assessed needs. Social services work to ensure parents, families or carers have access to the support they need, when they need it.

You can contact your local council’s Family Information Service to get a list of the childcare services available in your area. This will include local childminders, day care nurseries and out-of-school care. In some areas, this is called Childcare Information Service.

Charities

Some charities can provide free support and practical help with looking after children.

Home-Start provides free support and practical help to families in various circumstances. The volunteers are all trained and parents themselves. They visit families in their own homes for a few hours a week. They can help look after children, or just be someone to talk to.

The Carer’s Trust has Care Centres across the UK. Many have trained carers who can provide practical support in the home so the carer can take a break. They also help families when a parent or carer has cancer by looking after the children.

Flexible working

If you, or your partner, are employed, it may be possible to ask your employer about whether you could adopt ‘flexible working’ during your treatment. This may give you more flexibility with childcare. Gov.uk has information about various types of flexible working such as flexitime, home working, compressed hours and job share in England, Scotland and Wales. NIDirect has information about flexible working in Northern Ireland.

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