For many of us, childcare is a vital part of how we balance our own time with the needs of our family. However, it is often the case that finding the right place for your needs is just as challenging as taking care of little ones themselves.
But help could be at hand for thousands of grateful parents, after officials within the Government said that a programme to introduce free childcare for two-year-old kids is to be trialled a year earlier than planned, with nearly a thousand youngsters and their parents set to benefit.
Are you someone who relies on childcare to keep your family going through tough times? If so, you are not alone. The childcare system already in place is used by more than 800,000 kids, giving their parents time to earn a little extra money or the space to get things done.
Under the new plans, the total number of kids using childcare is likely to rise by 260,000 by 2014, with two-year-olds being entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare care every week.
The childcare trials, which are to check everything is in place before the system is introduced across the whole country, will take place in Blackpool, Cornwall, Greenwich, Kent, Lambeth, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rotherham.
Hints and tips
For those looking to find the right affordable childcare, just making the decision to leave their kids with someone else can be difficult enough.
Among the most important pointers people need to remember is to bear the location of a childcare provider in mind.
Parents should time themselves on a drive to the site, and if it is too far, they should think twice about signing up.
Meanwhile, it is always important to shop around. Parents should have a look at every childcare centre in their area, and must not be afraid to ask difficult questions.