Tom Harrow

Tom Harrow

Hi Tom! was re-launched in 2009 and has since connected thousands of parents and childcare professionals; can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the company?

We identified a space in the market between childcare agencies and traditional classifieds sites. At one end of the scale, the agency experience was generally very good but expensive, and at the other end, classified sites offered an untargeted experience – supplying 100’s of irrelevant C.V’s to parents. We wanted to offer parents the tools of an agency at a fraction of the cost.

What sets apart from other childcare search sites online; why should parents and/or professionals use it?

We have a strong focus on safety and credibility. We are the only online search site in the UK to offer additional identity checks, providing extra reassurance for parents, and further supporting childcare professionals to find employment.  We’ve over 200,000 members, so if you’re looking for something specific; i.e. a French speaking nanny with a driver’s license and CRB you’ll find one on our site.

Can you give us your top three tips for parents when searching for childcare?

1. Think about all of your requirements and when advertising, be specific about this; hours, dietary requirements, language.  The more specific you are the more likely you’ll be able to find the perfect candidate.

2. Always ask for a DBS (formerly CRB) check and references, and follow the references up with a phone call

3. Choosing childcare for your child(ren) is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll have to make – so take your time, search through the site and read through our help and advice sections

For working parents, who are reluctant to leave their child with someone who is not a family member or friend, what would you say are the advantages of having the right childcare such as a babysitter or child-minder?

Great childcare can be a gift to your child(ren), the person you choose can share their culture and experience with your family, teach them a new language or improve their math skills; when hiring its good specify what you are keen for your children to learn and you’ll get applicants with these skills.

There are a number of childcare options and this can be confusing for mums and dads who want to find appropriate care fast. Where should these parents start and what sorts of things should they prioritise when searching for childcare?

We recognise that parents at the beginning of their search can feel daunted or overwhelmed and we spend a lot of time working on answering these questions. Which is why we’ve put together a guide showing for each type of childcare professional the type of care they provide, cost, advantages and things to consider.

A lot of parents struggle to handle work and family life - do you think having a family and a business, or working full-time, is achievable – where’s the balance? 

It’s definitely achievable but you have to be smart with your time and put structure into your day.  Making time to have always have breakfast together is a great way to start, and whilst you’re doing it don’t check your emails or think about the day ahead, enjoy the quality time that you have.

What’s the one tip or piece of advice you would give to parents who want to return to work and are in search of childcare?

To use of course. We pretty much hold the parent’s hand throughout the whole process!

A new report has found that more than two thirds of councils are failing to ensure enough childcare for working parents. For those with limited childcare resources, what can offer them? is the affordable way to search for childcare, and allows you to find childcare professionals in your area addressing availability.  We also produce average costs on a quarterly basis allowing you to identify the most cost effective care.

Tell us your thoughts on these findings…

I think cost is a real worry for parents and our Annual Childcare Report showed that the average cost has risen by six per cent in the last quarter; it’s something that government needs to address. A quarter of parents want to return to work but can’t afford it – surely if we address childcare it’ll go a good way to solving some of the unemployment issues in this country.

How and why is it, important for parents to check the qualifications of childcare professionals?

Safety is again a concern for parents and this is addressable by ensuring that your childcare professional not only has qualifications for the job, but also has the appropriate safety checks in place i.e. DBS (formerly CRB) and background checks.

A number of reforms surrounding childcare are being discussed and put forward at the moment – what changes to childcare laws would you propose or like to come into effect?

It’s simple, the government need to do more, 55 per cent of parents surveyed don’t think the government is doing enough, their reforms aren’t addressing safety, location, cost and conscience and this would be a logical place to start.

Finally, as continues to thrive – what is coming up for you and the company in 2013?

We are constantly striving to improve the experience for our current and new members, from the journeys you take on our site, to the advice that we give you.  We aim to ensure that is the best online destination to complete your childcare search.

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