The term childcare covers a number of different types of provision, but one thing they should all have in common is that they are good for children and good for families.
Your decision to use childcare might be driven by a need to work or undertake training. Or you could be looking for somewhere for your child to socialise with other children and get ready for school.
Entrusting the care of your child to someone else is a big decision, and it can be stressful, but whatever your needs there will be a childcare option that is right for you. Our aim at FYi is to help you find it by giving you all you need to make an informed choice. You can search the Directory for local childcare using the "Narrow by category" list on the right, or you can contact us for advice on any weekday from 9am to 5pm.
This page explains some of the most important things you need to know.
The Childcare Act 2006 (the Act) establishes Ofsted as the authority for the regulation of childminding and childcare on domestic and non-domestic premises in England. It gives HMCI responsibility for the registration and inspection of providers who are registered on the Childcare Register and the responsibility for enforcement where it appears that legal requirements are not being met.
There are three aspects to the regulation of providers on the Childcare Register. These are:
- registration of applicants
- inspecting providers to check that they continue to meet legal requirements for registration
- taking enforcement action where requirements for registration are not met or where provision that should be registered is operating without registration
There are three main types of childcare:
- Early years childcare: nurseries and pre-schools for children under five years old
- Home-based childcare: registered childminders and nannies.
- Out-of-school childcare: breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday play schemes for children of school age (usually 5-14)
The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under 8 for a period of more than two hours at a time to register their business with Ofsted. This is called the Compulsory Childcare Register. Providers on this register are inspected regularly by Ofsted and the inspection reports are published on Ofsted’s website.
Following the inspection Ofsted will rate the quality of the childcare being provided and judge it as either "Outstanding", "Good", "Requires improvement" or "Inadequate". When provision is judged to be less than "Good", Ofsted will take steps to work with the provider to improve the quality of their childcare. In extreme cases provision found to be inadequate may be forced to close.
Currently all registered childcare providers in the CIty of London are rated "Good" or "Outstanding".
Some types of childcare are exempt from compulsory registration. Nannies, for example, are employed by a family to work in that family’s home, and are not classed as a childcare business in the same way as childminders who operate from their own homes. Other exempt provision includes those where children stay for less than two hours, such as crèches, or groups like Rainbows and Scouts. Exempt providers can opt to join the Voluntary Childcare Register and can also be inspected.
Ofsted registration can provide peace of mind to parents, and help when choosing a provider. It also enables parents to claim certain types of financial support towards the cost of the childcare.