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Whether you’re returning to work, starting a course or just feel its time for them to interact with other children, finding suitable childcare is going to be a big decision for you, and one which depends on your family’s personal needs and circumstances. There are different types of childcare available, you need to go over all the options and decide which form will work the best for you and your child’s needs.
Childminders: self-employed childcarers who will look after your child, as well as other children, probably in their own home
Day nurseries: provide care and education for children aged from six weeks up to five years old.
Children's centres: providing services for families and children from pregnancy up to the age of five.
Nannies: employed by you, and look after your children in your home.
Free part-time placements: children aged three and four are entitled to free part-time places (through the Nursery Education Grant). These can be at a nursery, playgroup or even with a childminder. Contact your local Children’s Information Service for details.
Nursery schools and classes: provide early education, from ages three to five years. These placements can be full-time or half-day sessions.
Playgroups: a not-for-profit group organised by the community or voluntary group, which provides care and usually early education.
School-based childcare: activities and childcare are provided before and after school, and during school holidays (play schemes). Usually open from 8am (breakfast club), closing at 6pm (after-school club).
The Children’s Information Services (CIS) hold lists of registered childcare providers (nurseries, childminders, etc). To get in touch with your local CIS, contact ChildcareLink on 0800 096 0296 or visit their website www.childcarelink.gov.uk Another good way of sourcing childcare is by asking other parents/carers who they use for their children – this way you get a personal recommendation from the people who know best.
Keep in mind that what worked for them may not be the most suitable route for your children, and always ask for references from the provider if you’re unsure. The National Childminding Association (NCMA) offersfree help and advice to parents looking for home-based childcare providers. Their free helpline number is 0845 880 0044. NCMA have produced a film and leaflet to illustrate the benefits of choosing home-based childcare using a registered childminder. Click here to watch the film.
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