Childcare and early years

Looking for childcare

Whether you're looking at childminders, early years centres, nurseries, playgroups or out-of-school clubs, the choice of childcare is yours and there is a suitable option for every family.

What to expect from a childcare provider

Ofsted is responsible for regulating the quality of childcare provision and the registration, investigation, inspections and enforcement of early learning and childcare provision.

Nursery children playing in classroomTheir role also includes:

  • making sure that a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is carried out on anyone who provides childcare
  • staff are qualified to work with children
  • premises are inspected to make sure that all health and safety and welfare issues are addressed

Ofsted provides information about how they regulate childcare providers, how parents/carers can use that information when choosing childcare and what to do if you have a concern about a provider.

Read Ofsted's factsheet for parents and carers using childcare services

Things to look at when visiting possible childcare options

  1. Are the children calm, safe and happy?
  2. Do children play and talk together?
  3. Are the staff listening to children and answering them carefully?
  4. Are the staff friendly and proud of their work?
  5. Are the staff joining in with what the children are doing?
  6. Are there lots of fun activities planned to help children learn and play?
  7. Can children plan some of these themselves?
  8. Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use?
  9. Is the premises clean, well kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?
  10. Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their child(ren)?

If there are other things you want to know, do not be afraid to ask. Good childcare staff expect you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them.

Search for childcare

If you are unable to find childcare, our Families' Information Service will look for up to 3 available childcare providers that can offer a service to meet your individual requirements. 

Complete our online form

Page last updated: 07 Sep 2020