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Choosing services safely

What you need to know

It is very important that you carefully consider which services you would like to use and which would be suitable for you. When you decide to contact a service take some time to find out about them to make sure they are safe to use.

Below are some questions that you could ask. Remember good services will always welcome your questions.

Is the service registered with Ofsted

This will apply to childcare providers or other supervised activities for children or young people. There are two types of Ofsted registration. A quick summary is given below. Further information about choosing childcare is available in our Choosing Childcare pages.

  • Registered on the "Early Years Register" - Services on this register are checked and inspected by Ofsted.
  • Registered on the "Voluntary Ofsted Register" - Services on this have shown they have certain checks and procedures in place. They are not regularly inspected and this is much lighter touch than being on the "Early Years Register"

Is the service accredited?

Depending on what the service offers it may be accredited in some way. This generally means that the service has made a commitment to a set of standards. If your are wanting to find out more about what different accreditation schemes mean then contact the accrediting body or their website.

Ask the service some questions.

Some ones you might want to think about are:

  • Do staff and volunteers have DBS (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) checks? All Staff working with, or having access to children, young people or vulnerable adults should be DBS checked.
  • Are staff and volunteers appropriately trained, supported and supervised?
  • Does the service belong to a professional organisation or quality assurance scheme?
  • Does the service have the following policies in place: Child Protection, Health and Safety, Complaints?
  • Is there a commitment to equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice? – How do staff ensure that all users are included and feel comfortable?
  • Does your activity welcome and support disabled children and children with additional needs? All services should make reasonable adjustments to support disabled children. However you may want to know what adjustments they will make and what they will do to support a disabled child or young person to be included.

Other things to think about could include:

  • Think about visiting the setting or group before you start using them regularly.
  • Phone for written information.
  • Ask for references or try and speak to other people using the service.
  • If your children are using a service ask them questions about their activities and listen to any concerns they may have.
  • For more information about choosing childcare please contact the Family Information Service or read the Childcare section on this site.