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under5s - childcare choices
Childcare Choices

As a parent of a child under the age of five, are you aware of what options there are regarding childcare? What choices do you have and what are some of the pros and cons of each setting. I have decided to highlight some of the options which are available at the moment (2004), but please remember childcare is a rapidly expanding area and the choices in your local area may vary.

You may choose to make an informal arrangement with family, or to choose a setting. It is important to consider that anyone providing childcare for more more than 2 hours a day for reward (this could be money, exchanging childcare with a friend or a gift) should be registered with Ofsted, and they should have adequate insurance and training especially in first aid. 

If your child is three or four years old, he or she could be entitled to funded nursery education, which may mean a free place or a reduction in fees if your child attends full time. 

How do you find out if your child's setting is registered to provide the foundation curriculum ? Talk to the setting - funding is available at an Accredited Network Childminder's, a pre-school/playgroup, a state nursery school or a private nursery. For more information visit: Funded Places for three and four year olds

A pre-school

A pre-school normally offers sessional childcare, traditionally for children from 2 years 9 months until they start school, although some may take younger children, and is generally open for the same term timess as schools.
Click here for more information.

  • They are inspected by Ofsted
  • Have a team of staff including: 
    • a supervisor should be trained to at least a level three qualification in Early Years Care and Education, with at least 50% of staff with a level 2 qualification. 
    • Key workers whom support individual children
    • SENCO, special educational needs co-ordinator, who will help and support children's learning. 
  • Staff ratios as follows: 1:3 children under 2 years 1:4 children aged 2 years 1:8 children aged 37 years
  • The pre-school itself could be managed by a committee of volunteers or privately run.
  • Different pre-schools and Nurseries can offer different learning styles such as Montessori. 
A Nursery

A Nursery normally offers extended childcare, is open most of the year and for longer hours. However any setting open for more than 4.5 hours a day is consider full day care, if it is not on a domestic premises. Nurseries can be run privately, by a chain of owners or by the Local Education Authority. Click here for more information.

  • They are inspected by Ofsted
  • Have a team of staff including: 
    • a manager and supervisors whom should be trained to at least a level three qualification in Early Years Care and Education, with at least half the staff with a level 2 qualification. 
    • Key workers whom support individual children
    • SENCO, special educational needs co-ordinator, who will help and support children's learning. 
    • At least one member of staff has current first aid training.
  • Staff ratios as follows: 1:3 children under 2 years 1:4 children aged 2 years 1:8 children aged 37 year
A Childminder

A Childminder works from his/her own home providing care for children from birth upwards, the hours they work depend on their personal circumstances but can include part time, full time childcare, catering for regular hours or shifts and even extending to overnight care. They are registered to care for a range of children from 0-8 years, of whom no more than 1 are under one, 3 are under five years and 6 under eight, although there may be slight variations on this, especially if they work with an assistant.

  • They are inspected by ofsted
  • They offer home based care, and often go out into the local community, offering children the opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities
  • Siblings can stay together.
  • Your child is regularly cared for by the same person.
  • They are self-employed and you pay for their services through an agreed contract.
A childminder may be part of a Childminding Network, have or is working towards a level three qualification and is able to provide Early Years Education Funded places, which could be at a less formal time, with a small group - 1 adult to three children. More information.

A Nanny

A nanny provides childcare in your family home, it is up to you to check their suitability, to employ then and to pay for any expenses they may incur. They could live in or out. There is a new scheme called Home carer, when a childminder can be working in a private home, more information is available from the NCMA, which may be eligible for family tax breaks in the future.

Accreditation

If you are concerned about choosing the best possible childcare solution for your child, you may wish to consider an Accredited setting. Accreditation schemes vary between settings and around the county, they may involve the setting having regular quality checks such as that of an NCMA Children Come First Network Childminder, or settings working through a portfolio of policies and documents which provide the underpinning support to help ensure your child is getting the best possible start. The best place to find out more is by asking each setting you choose to look at. For more information about Accreditation schemes which have the Investors in Children endorsement - click here.

Searching for more information to help you?

Helen Renouf. NNEB
under5s - childcare choices
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