Choosing a quality early years childcare setting
There are many different types of childcare settings and entrusting a stranger with your child is a big step.
It can be particularly challenging if your child has a disability or special educational need. You may struggle to access the childcare that you want that meets your child's needs and is suitable for your family.
You need to feel confident about the childcare setting you are using for your child so before you choose any type of childcare you should do some research.
It is important to make sure that you make the relevant checks yourself by asking the right questions to ensure that you are finding the right type of childcare that is safe and secure and which best suits your needs and the needs and age of your child.
Before you choose a provider you may want to consider the following tips:
- Give yourself plenty of time to choose - holiday playschemes, for example, get booked up in advance, day nurseries may have waiting lists
- Ask other parents for recommendations
- Make appointments to visit two or three providers to compare what's on offer, and get a feel for the staff
- Think about your child's personality and interests - what environment will they prefer?
- Will your child need extra help and support?
- Check opening times, holiday dates and cost
- Ask questions
If you have a child with a special educational need and/or a disability you may also need to consider:
- What extra help and support your child will need?
- Are the staff ready and able to provide practical support (e.g. with personal care)?
- Are the staff willing for you (and/or a health practitioner if appropriate) to show them how to look after your child's needs?
- Are the premises accessible for your child?
- What equipment is essential?
- What is their medication policy/procedure?
- Are carers willing to work with other practitioners to meet your child's needs, e.g. occupational therapists and/or speech therapists if appropriate?
- If your child needs one-to-one care or additional help, how will the setting or childminder manage this?
If you are considering using childcare there are a number of questions you should ask to ensure that you are finding the right type of childcare to suit you and your child's needs.
Use the following guides to help you with what to ask and things to look out for:
- Top tips for choosing a Quality Early Years Childcare Setting
- Top tips for choosing a childminder
- Guide to choosing unregistered childcare
- Guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities
Monitoring your child's care
Once you have chosen a provider, give them clear information about your child's likes and dislikes and any health issues they may have. After a few weeks, you might want to go back and speak to the provider to find out how your child is getting on.
It's also a good idea to talk to your child, to make sure they are happy and comfortable with their care provider.