Choosing childcare

What to look for:

Choosing childcare and early education is a big step for you and your child. There is a variety of childcare on offer, these include childminders, nurseries, pre school, playgroup, nursery classes and out-of-school clubs. Try and give yourself enough time to visit several possible options in your area to get a good idea of what may suit your child. It can be a good idea to take your child with you to see how they interact with staff and their reactions to the setting. Try to go when children are there so you can see if they are settled, confident and involved in a variety of activities. You could also visit again at a different time of day.

All childcare providers are registered with Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) if they operate more than 2 hours per day. This means that they are inspected against a set of national standards. You can access a copy of a childcare providers latest report through the Ofsted website. You can also ask a provider if you want to see a copy of their latest inspection report.

Here are some suggested questions to ask when you visit. Add your own questions as well:

  1. What experience have you or the staff team in working with children?
  2. What qualifications or experience do you have?
  3. Have you any skills, experience or qualifications that support specific ages, needs or vulnerable groups?
  4. What do you enjoy about working with children and why?
  5. What is the role of the key person? How does the key person system work?
  6. Can I look around the building to see the rooms and outside provision?
  7. Where will my child rest or sleep? How will this be monitored and recorded?
  8. What food and drink will be provided? Request a copy of a sample menu.
  9. What activities and experiences will my child have access to, as part of their daily routine?
  10. How do you promote positive behaviour?
  11. Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they?
  12. How will you share information about my child on a regular basis?

What does quality childcare look like?

When you visit possible childcare options, look for the following. You could add your own as well:

  1. Are the children settled, confident and involved?
  2. Do children play and talk together?
  3. Are the staff listening to the children and engaged in conversation?
  4. Were you and your child made to feel welcome?
  5. Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use? Does this include messy play, sand and water?
  6. Are the premises clean, well-kept and safe for children with an accessible outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?



Useful documents


York Family Information Service and Information Service for Young People

01904 554444 / 01904 555400

Search for Childcare and Services