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Useful Tips for Choosing Childcare

Don't leave it until the last minute

When looking for childcare give yourself plenty of time to make your choice as some childcare providers may have a waiting list.

Research your options

For a list of local registered childcare in your area go to our Staffordshire Connects website

  • In filter by location:
    • input postcode/ town and the magnifying glass to search
  • In Subjects click on Childcare:
    • the select from list which type you wish to search for i.e. Childminders
  • from the results list, you view the information and contact details on a childcare provider by clicking on their name.
  • Add the childcare providers of your choice to a shortlist and email to yourself or a friend.

Think about your child's age

Especially when it comes to babies and children under 2 who benefit from a closer one-to-one relationship. You know your child best, so keep in mind your own instinct.

Shop around

There's no harm in shopping around when it comes to childcare, after all they will be looking after your child. Aim to visit at least 2 or 3 places to meet the carer and compare what is on offer. Take along some prepared questions to ask.

Not all childcare providers will have availability or may not be able to cater for the days/ hours that your need.

Childcare settings also have different packages and charges. Ask for fee sheets or a prospectus. Check out what help with childcare costs you could be eligibel for.

Don't rule out combining care

If you can't get the type of care you need at one provision, you may need to think about using more the one childcare provider or more than one type. For example: nursery for 2 days and childminder for 3 days.

Check references

This is vital. Some carers might be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about their work.

Get it in writing

Once a decision has been made, get it all in writing.  Many providers will have contracts outlining conditions etc. Read it carefully before you sign it.

*For funded places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, your provider legally needs to obtain your consent to claim on your behalf and share information with Staffordshire County Council by signing a Parent Declaration & Privacy Notice form. 

Your childcare checklist (not exclusive)

  • Visit the setting/ meet the staff - it is recommended to visit the provider and see the setting, its set up and how staff work. Take your child/ren with you on the visit.

  • Local Offer/ SEND / Discuss your requirements - speak to the provider about any needs that must be met for your child/ ren i.e. SENDs requirements / is there a designated SENCO, meeting Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
    For more information go to our Local Offer
  • Information, hours, costs etc - is there a prospectus or information on their website?

  • Funded places for 2, 3 & 4 year olds - Parents who want to access funded places are advised to discuss with the provider how they supply funded places i.e. which hours are funded in a day / term time or stretched through the year. Is provider clear on additional charges for non-funded hours and consumables i.e. food, nappies etc? How to get your funded  place

  • Environment - is it secure? Is it non-smoking? Are there pets?

  • Diet - what's on the menu? Is there easy access to water for children? Will they cater for special requirements?

  • Emotional care - what are the routines? How is difficult behaviour dealt with?  is there a written policy?

  • Equipment - can they play outside? Is the play creative?

  • Health  - are the toilets and basins clean? What facilities are there for potty training and baby changing.

  • DBS checks - are the correct checks in place for staff (and over 16s in a childminder household) ?

  • Ofsted certificate and rating - all childcare providers registered with Ofsted, must legally present their registration certificate. Providers must also supply enquirers with the most recent Ofsted inspection rating and report if requested. This information can also be found on the Ofsted website then go to: find inspection report. The highest and recommended ratings are Outstanding and Good.

  • Safeguarding and Welfare - what happens in the case of emergency? What are the safety procedures, is there a safeguarding policy in place?

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