Childcare in UAE

Childcare in UAE

When parents from various countries move to the UAE, it’s essential to find childcare in UAE. Explore the available choices, understand how to get them, and find out about the associated costs.

Moving to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) involves various tasks. You need to handle relocation logistics, obtain visas, secure an Emirati ID, locate a new residence, arrange utilities and communications, and establish a bank account. Naturally, for parents, understanding the school system and discovering ways to access childcare are equally significant aspects to consider.

Childcare in UAE

Childcare in UAE

When it comes to taking care of children in the UAE, parents can choose between public and private options. However, it’s important for expat parents to know that public childcare is only available to Emirati citizens. If you’re a non-Emirati resident in the UAE, you’ll need to explore private childcare solutions. These may include facilities outside the home, like preschools, nurseries, and daycare centers, as well as in-home options with nannies and babysitters.

As of the latest official statistics from 2014, there were 497 nurseries in the UAE catering to 35,552 children. The Ministry of Education (MOE) oversees all childcare facilities, working closely with the Ministry of Interior (MOI), Ministry of Community Development (MOCD), and Ministry of Health and Protection (MOHAP) to ensure the well-being of children. In 2022, the MOE established the Federal Authority for Early Childhood Education to create, implement, and oversee policies and programs for early childhood development within the education system.

New mothers working in the private sector in the UAE receive 60 days of maternity leave. During this period, the first 45 days are fully paid, while the remaining 15 days are at half-pay. Fathers also receive five days of parental leave, which they can take at any time before the baby is six months old. However, beyond this, there is limited official flexibility for parents to take time off for childcare in UAE.

It’s worth noting that federal government employees do have some flexible working arrangements, allowing them to be present for their children on the first day of school.

Who Can Use Childcare Services in UAE?

In UAE, public childcare facilities are exclusively for Emirati citizens. However, expat parents can make use of childcare services available in the private sector. The specific requirements for accessing these services may vary from one facility to another.

Typically, you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  1. Child’s birth certificate
  2. Child and parents’ UAE visa
  3. Proof of vaccinations

Parents are usually required to pay for private childcare out of their own pockets, and the costs can vary widely depending on the specific facility.

Preschool and Daycare in UAE

In UAE, children usually start mandatory education at the age of six. However, many parents begin exploring preschools, nurseries, and daycare centers well before this time. If international parents opt for these childcare in UAE, they should consider private preschools and daycares. Most centers accept children from 12 months old, and some may even enroll babies as young as three months old.

The fees and schedules can vary widely depending on the facility you choose. Some places may only offer a few hours or half-day care, while others provide options for full-day care. Costs can range from AED 1,050 to 27,000. It’s important to note that many private preschools and daycares, especially those popular among foreign nationals, often have long waiting lists. Therefore, it’s advisable to apply early to secure a spot for your child.

Like Childcare in UAE, You may also like to read about Education for People of Determination in UAE.

Childcare in UAE

lnternational Childcare in UAE

With 9.3 million international residents, comprising over 89% of the population, the UAE provides numerous international childcare choices. The benefit is that children get to experience a multicultural environment and encounter different languages. Additionally, some of these international childcare facilities in the UAE can smoothly transition children into international grade schools.

Nannies or Au Pairs in UAE

Many international parents in UAE choose to hire nannies or au pairs to care for their young children. Currently, there are around 750,000 nannies working in UAE. However, it’s important to note that not all of them may have official childcare training or qualifications. You have various options, such as live-in or live-out nannies, as well as day or night au pairs.

One advantage of hiring a nanny in UAE is that they can focus entirely on caring for your child and may also assist with household duties. Since they are likely to be foreign nationals, you would be responsible for sponsoring their visa. Depending on the terms of employment, you might also need to provide accommodation and cover transportation costs and flight tickets.

The cost of hiring a nanny for childcare in UAE can vary significantly based on the agency, specific duties, and experience. Generally, the average salary ranges from AED 1,800 to 3,000 per month. Typically, a two-year contract needs to be signed, and you may need to cover registration fees, medical checks, and obtain an Emirati ID.

Finding a nanny in the UAE can be done in various ways. You might ask friends and colleagues for recommendations or explore Facebook groups. Some popular local sites parents use to search for nannies include:

  1. Find Nanny & Maid
  2. GulfNanny
  3. Peekaboo Nannies

Babysitters in UAE

Some parents prefer more relaxed options for childcare in UAE, like hiring babysitters. You can usually find a regular or occasional babysitter for a specific time, which is handy for a night out or regular care for a few hours each week. Similar to other childcare choices, babysitter rates can vary, but on average, expect to pay between AED 55 and AED 70 per hour.

While it’s always good to ask for recommendations from people you trust, you can also search for babysitters on these websites:

  1. Malaak
  2. Marinely’s
Childcare in UAE

Workplace Childcare in UAE

Even though new mothers in UAE are entitled to up to 60 days of maternity leave, not all employers offer childcare solutions when they return to work. Some larger companies may be exceptions, providing work-hour flexibility or childcare allowances, but this is uncommon. Generally, only federal employees receive childcare benefits while at work. Since 2006, the UAE mandates that government departments with more than 50 female Emirati staff or those where the female Emirati employees collectively have more than 20 children should establish onsite nurseries.

Childcare for School-Age Children

For expat parents in UAE, looking after school-age children often involves relying on their kids’ private or international schools, especially in secondary school. For instance, the Capital School provides a Breakfast Club starting at 06:30 and an After-School Club until 18:00. Qualified teaching assistants oversee activities like yoga and messy play while offering light meals.

Similarly, Kids First Group nurseries offer After-School Clubs with various activities, enrichment programs, and camps. Most schools provide a variety of after-school options for older children, including sports, music, volunteering, and creative pursuits. Typically, parents will need to pay for after-school care, and the costs can vary between facilities. However, many after-school clubs and activities are often free, except for specific equipment and materials that may require a fee.

Childcare for Children with Special Needs and Disabilities

Currently, there isn’t a national childcare program in place specifically supporting families with children having special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities in the UAE. However, SEN is integrated into the education system, and families can explore various resources and support groups to find the most suitable childcare options. In the UAE, individuals living with a disability are often referred to as “persons of determination” to recognize their achievements in various areas. Some resources and facilities include:

  1. The Al Noor Training Center for Children with Special Needs
  2. The Dubai Center for Special Needs
  3. The Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre
  4. Dubai Autism Center
  5. Child Learning and Enrichment Medical Centre (Maharat)
  6. The Future Centre for Special Needs
  7. Stars for Special Abilities and Early Intervention Center
  8. Wilson Centre for Children
  9. Manzil

Almana Healthcare Hospital in Al Ain, offering an in-hospital education program for children requiring ongoing medical care.

Several nurseries, like the Developing Child Centre, provide inclusive programs or focus on children with higher developmental needs. Additionally, trained nannies for caring for children with disabilities can be found through groups like Alamaani Nanny Agency.

Childcare in UAE During School Holidays

School holidays can be a juggling act for parents, trying to manage work and taking care of their kids at home. Fortunately, there are many options for childcare during holidays in the UAE. Several private daycare centers stay open, although their operating hours might vary. Families with nannies or babysitters may have the option to extend childcare hours (with extra payment, of course). Additionally, the UAE offers various holiday camps during summer and winter breaks where children and teenagers can explore interests like music, sports, adventure, theater, and STEM. Here are some popular holiday camps in Dubai and Abu Dhabi:

  1. Aventura – Daily and weekly camps at a ziplining park (AED 100 – 1,345)
  2. Ballers – Sports-focused camps with a football emphasis (AED 1,800)
  3. Courtyard Playhouse – Theater camps with screenings, performances, and workshops (AED 1,215/week)
  4. Empire Sports Academy – Football summer camps (AED 131/day or AED 600/week)
  5. STEM – Camps focusing on science, technology, engineering, and maths (AED 225/day or AED 1,075/week)

Child Benefits and Childcare Allowance in UAE

In UAE, there are limited child benefits and childcare allowances compared to many other countries. The primary support comes from the local social welfare program, which assists low-income families. However, these benefits are exclusively available for Emirati citizens until their child reaches 21 years old. The monthly allowance starts at AED 2,400 for the first child, with an additional AED 1,600 for a second and third child, and AED 800 for the fourth or any subsequent children.

Becoming a Child Carer in UAE

Starting a childcare facility in UAE is possible, but it involves some research and paperwork. Here are the typical steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Create a Business Plan: Outline your business, its activities, and expected financial details.
  2. Find a Location: Locate a place that is easily accessible to your target market.
  3. Get a License: Apply for a trade license and approval from your local Emirate. You’ll also need approval from the Directorate of Civil Defence (DCD) and the Department of Health (DOH). Required documents include a police clearance certificate (PCC), ID, background information, and proof of your qualifications.
  4. Hire Staff: Ensure that your staff is qualified and undergoes official background and police checks.
  5. Get Necessary Equipment: Equip your center with suitable resources, including educational materials, toys, books, toilet facilities, and a space for food preparation.

The initial and ongoing costs of your daycare center will vary based on factors like licensing, equipment expenses, and staff salaries. For instance, the cost of a daycare business license in Dubai can range from AED 12,000 to AED 20,000.