Last updated: 21 July 2022
Choosing childcare to support your child's learning and development is a big step. Each child and family are different. The type of childcare to choose will depend on your own family circumstances and the needs of your child.
There's a range of childcare options available including day nurseries, pre-schools, school nurseries, childminders, crèches, breakfast and after school clubs and holiday schemes.
Day nurseries provide care and education for children from six weeks to compulsory school-age. There are different types of day nurseries e.g. privately run, community, council or workplace.
They must all be registered and regularly inspected by Ofsted and must comply with strict guidelines on staff/children ratios.
Opening hours will tend to fit in with an average working day of 8am to 6pm, and care is usually provided all year round.
Children can usually attend pre-school from the age of two until compulsory school age (if parents defer a reception place).
They usually offer three-hour morning or afternoon sessions. Children can also bring in a packed lunch and stay through the lunch break in order to run two sessions together. A full day at pre-school would be the same length as a school day, between 8.30am and 3.30pm.
Most pre-schools have the same term dates as local schools.
The ratio for two-year olds is one adult to four children, and for three to five year olds is one adult to eight children.
Local authority (LA) maintained nursery schools and classes are attached to LA infant and primary schools in Waltham Forest. Places are mostly available on a part time basis, either in the morning or afternoon, for children aged between three and five years old, although some will take two-year olds. There is no charge to attend a LA nursery as these are funded by the government through the local authority. However, there may be a charge for out of hours care such as a breakfast or after school club.
There are other types of childcare, which focus on providing occasional care or care for school-age children outside of normal school hours.
A childminder is someone who cares for children in their own home. They generally provide care for young children. They look after small groups of children of different ages and from different families.
Most childminders will be registered for three children under five years and another three aged five to eight years. However, many childminders in Waltham Forest are expanding their business and employing assistants, or working alongside other registered minders, so they can care for more children at once.
In England, childminders register with Ofsted, the regulatory body. They follow the same legal framework, the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework 2017 as any other childcare provider (such as pre-schools and nurseries), so should offer the same quality experience.
Home childcares (nannies)
A home child carer (Nanny) is a person (over 18 years old) who is employed by a parent to look after children in the family home. Home child carers can care for children of any age and can work flexible hours. They can choose to register with Ofsted on the voluntary part of the childcare register.
Breakfast and afterschool clubs
Breakfast and afterschool clubs generally provide care before and after school for children aged from 4 to 12 years, although some are able to cater for older children as part of the government's extended schools agenda.
Clubs are either offered by a school or by an external childcare provider based at a school or local community venue.
Not all schools are required to provide out of school care if they can demonstrate that there is little or no demand for these services. They can satisfy government requirements by signposting to other local provision, such as childminders or nearby out of school clubs. However, if there is a definite need, schools are required to implement out of school care, but this does not have to be provided by the school itself.
Holiday schemes are run during the school holidays and are based at schools, youth or community centres. They are generally open to children aged from 4 to 12 years although some can cater for older children.
Crèches offer occasional care for children under eight years of age. Parents are not required to stay with their child. Crèches must be registered if they run for more than two hours a day.
Visiting childcare providers
It is a good idea to make a shortlist of suitable childcare settings in your area. Once you have established these settings, contact them and arrange a visit.
Once you arrive, the childcare provider should show you around and answer any of your questions.