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.
The first thing you will need to do is to find out exactly what is available in your area. You can search for Ofsted registered childcare in Surrey in our Childcare finder. By choosing childcare which has registered with Ofsted you will know that they have been approved to care for children.
Once you know what is available you can start to do some research to see which will suit your child best.
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.
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.
All network childminders are 'quality assured'. This means they are visited and assessed regularly by the home based childcare advisors from Surrey Early Years and Childcare Service and take part in the Surrey County Council Early Years Quality Improvement Award scheme.
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 view the latest inspection reports by visiting www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports.
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 will have a copy of the report which you can ask to see.
The Family and Childcare Trust's factsheet for parents called ‘Visiting childcare settings’ offers guidance for parents who are making an initial visit. You can download a copy from their website www.daycaretrust.org.uk.
You can find an overview of the different types of childcare in our Childcare Special magazine. It also features articles from parents using childcare and from childcare providers.