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Choosing and arranging childcare

Choosing childcare can be daunting so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make your choice. Remember you know your child better than anyone else, so trust your gut instinct and gather as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision. 

Finding childcare

The first thing you will need to do is to find out exactly what's available in your area. You can search for Ofsted registered childcare in Surrey in our Childcare finder. By choosing a childcare provider who has chosen to register with Ofsted you will know that they have been approved to care for children.

Once you know what's available you can start to do some research to see which will suit your child best.

Some points to take into consideration

  • Take time to research your options before you make your final decision.
  • Think about what best suits your child and where they would thrive.
  • Make a list of your requirements such as opening hours, costs, location, and make those your first questions when you phone around.
  • Phone several places to save time and ask a few key questions rather than visiting them all.
  • Aim to visit a few places to meet potential carers and compare what's on offer.
  • Take your child with you to see how they get on with the staff and surroundings.
  • Don't be afraid to go for a second visit if you have any doubts, a good childcarer will welcome this.
  • Some childcarers will agree to a trial run before a formal agreement to see how it's going to work out. This will give you time to confirm that they meet all your requirements.
  • Consider combining different types of care to meet your needs.
  • Use references for peace of mind. Most childcarers will be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about their work.
  • Be aware that many childcare providers have waiting lists and you may have to put your child's name down at more than one in case your first choice changes or even closes.
  • Once you have made a decision make sure you sign a contract with the childcarer outlining details such as costs, rules and hours. Read it carefully before signing to ensure there is no room for misinterpretation or disagreement in the future.

This is not an exhaustive list, but asking the right questions will give you a good indication of quality and help you decide if the childcare provider is right for you and your child. Don’t forget, first impressions count.

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Evidence of quality

Many childcare providers take part in a quality assurance or other improvement scheme. These enable childcarers to raise their standards in care and education beyond the national standards set by Ofsted.

Background reading before your visit

Ofsted inspection reports

These can give you an impartial view of a childcare provider and can help provide information on how well they meet the standards set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage. However remember that their Ofsted inspection only reflects a snapshot in time.

You can search for childcare providers inspection reports on the Ofsted web page

If the childcare provider's report is not available on the Ofsted website it could be because they are newly registered and their report has not been uploaded yet.  However if you contact the childcarer they should have a copy of the report which you can ask to see.

Thinking about childcare and early education booklet

Our Thinking about childcare and early education booklet below has information and advice on finding, choosing and paying for childcare.

You might also like to have a look at our At my childminder's photobook for real life snapshots of how children in the care of a childminder might spend their time.

Files available to download

Page information

  • Updated: 03 Oct 2014
  • Surrey Family Information Service
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