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Making the right decision about childcare can seem daunting and expensive. There are plenty of options out there, but which one is right for you? As a parent, there are a number of childcare options available to you.

How do you go about choosing and moving forward? What should you be looking for and what questions can you ask?  To help you out with your questions, Dudley's Family Information Service is on hand to talk you through your concerns.

Full day care

Full day care is provided at any time (day or night) for children under eight at a venue other than domestic premises for more than a total of two hours a day.  Day care providers need to be registered with Ofsted.

Full day care is often provided by day nurseries between 7:30am - 6:00pm Monday to Friday. This is usually the most suitable for the needs of the majority of working parents and children 0-5 years old.

Sessional day care

Sessional day care is usually provided in blocks under four hours.  This can include preschool playgroups which may offer morning or afternoon sessions for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

It can also include breakfast clubs and after school provision for school aged children. Some providers of 'out of school provision' may also offer holiday clubs.

You will still need to apply to join the early years register as 'childcare on non-domestic premises' (the same category as full day care), if you are caring for children within the early years foundation stage, however the annual registration fee will be less.


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 members for the Dudley childminding network and are able to provide a free part-time Early Education Funded place for eligible 2, 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 Early Education Funding available?

Additional examples of childcare


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?

Day nursery

Provides education and care for children aged 0 to 5 including free part-time Early Education Funded places for eligible 2, 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 52 weeks of the year and 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?

Home childcarer/nanny/au-pair

Provide care and support for your child in their 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?

Out-of-school club

Offers organised activities and care, including snacks, often both before and after school hours.

Some clubs run term time only, and others may 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.

Pre-school playgroup

Registered to provide sessional care during term time for children aged 2 to 5, including free part time Early Education Funded places for eligible 2, 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 Early Education Funding available?
  • do the times fit in with my routine?

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.