Entrusting a stranger with your child is a big step, so before you choose childcare you may wish to do some research.
All childminders and day-care providers including playgroups, pre-schools, private nurseries, crèches and out-of-school clubs for under eight’s, must be registered by OFSTED Early Years.
Registration includes a criminal records check on anyone involved in providing childcare and an inspection of the premises to look at health and safety and educational welfare issues.
You can check that the childcare provider is registered by asking to see a registration certificate. If you have any doubts about a provider, check with your local Children’s Information Service. You can get the number of your nearest CIS by calling Childcarelink on 08000 96 02 96.
Investors in Children Quality Assurance schemes
Childcare providers with Investors in Children Quality Assurance schemes accreditation have shown a commitment to quality childcare that is of a high standard, so where possible you may prefer to choose one of these providers.
Do your own research
It is always a good idea to visit childcare providers yourself - inspections and accreditation are no substitute for parental judgement. When you do visit, ask plenty of questions. For an idea on the kind of questions you may wish to ask, try the Parents Centre website.
If you’re thinking of employing a nanny, bear in mind that government-sponsored registration and accreditation schemes do not apply to them. It is up to you, as parent and employer, to make sure that you hire a nanny who will look after your children well.
Reporting concerns and complaints
If you have a concern or complaint you cannot resolve with your registered childcare provider, call OFSTED Early Years Complaints Helpline on 0845 601 4772. OFSTED does not usually become involved in complaints over fees and contractual arrangements.