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Types of childcare

Children playing outside

What is available?

Toddler group

A first opportunity for young children to socialise and play with other children while their parent or carer meets others in similar circumstances.

Registered childminder

Registered to care for other peoples' children aged 0 to 8 in their own home, offering flexible hours to meet the needs of parents and carers, some may offer occasional weekend, evening or overnight care.

Some registered childminders are accredited to the childminding network and are able to provide a free part-time Nursery Education Funded place for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds.

Points to consider:

  • what training has the childminder undertaken?
  • which school does the childminder collect from?
  • can my child’s specific needs be catered for?
  • is Nursery Education Funding available?

Day nursery

Provides education and care for children aged 0 to 5 including free part-time Nursery Education Funded places for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds.

Children are cared for in age-related groups and are supported by named key workers. Day nurseries are open for up to 50 weeks of the year. Children can attend full or part time.

Points to consider:

  • how will my child progress through the groups?
  • are fees reduced for siblings?
  • are meals and nappies included in the fees?
  • is Nursery Education Funding available?
  • how do I know that the Ofsted standards are being met?
  • can I be involved in the planning of my child’s care?

Pre-school playgroup

Registered to provide sessional care during term time for children aged 2 to 5, including free part time Nursery Education Funded places for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds. Children will have an opportunity to develop their social skills and access a wide range of play-based learning activities.

Points to consider:

  • does the pre-school link to a particular school?
  • is it registered with Ofsted?
  • is Nursery Education Funding available?
  • do the times fit in with my routine?

Out-of-school club

Offers organised activities and care, including snacks, 8am - 6pm, 48 weeks of the year. Before and after school clubs run term time and provide holiday play schemes during the school holidays for school aged children. Out-of-school clubs are mainly based in or close to the schools which children attend.

Approved childcarer/nanny/au-pair   

Provides care and support for the child in the child's own home. Parents must take responsibility for ensuring that appropriate checks and clearances are held by the carer, such as a Disclosure and Barring Service check, and that they are suitably trained and qualified.

Points to consider:

  • is the carer registered?
  • does the carer have appropriate training and insurance?
  • no registration required for nannies
  • is the carer police checked?
  • are appropriate references available?
  • is overnight care available?


Provides care for children aged 0 to 8 throughout the year and are linked to specific activities such as leisure or training activities. Creches are also available in some shopping centres and will specify the ages of children they can care for and for what length of time.

Points to consider:

  • is the group registered or quality assured?
  • how are the children grouped?
  • what range of activities is available?

Children's centre

Offer a range of services to children under 5 and their families. Services include family support and parental outreach, early education integrated with childcare linked to children’s centres, child and family health services, links to Jobcentre Plus, swift and easy access to targeted and specialist services.