Childcare contracts and interviewing

Drawing up a written contract at the beginning of your relationship with your childcare provider can help avoid any disagreements or misunderstandings later on.

You may feel uncomfortable talking about money and your personal childcare preferences, however it is important that everyone clearly understands what is being agreed.

How do we make an agreement?

Your childcare provider should ask you to sign a contract to agree things like fees, hours, arrangements for holidays and sickness. This is to protect you and your childcarer and should be reviewed regularly.

What should be included in your contract

  • The retainer fee or deposit to secure your child's place
  • The amount you pay and what it covers (for example nappies, food, days out)
  • The hours/days your child will attend
  • Any personal preferences such as limiting your child's TV watching (for example not every day)
  • Payment for time off during holidays, statutory public holidays and holiday notice periods
  • What you pay if your child or the carer is sick
  • Notice of termination of the contract and notice payment
  • Date of commencement of full contract

Once the details of the contract have been understood and agreed by everyone involved, it should then be signed and dated by all parties and each party should keep a copy. It is then a legally binding document that's enforceable by law.

If you have any concerns about signing your contract you can contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau. The Family Information Service can provide some general advice, but cannot advise on legal matters.

Will I have to sign any other forms?

If you claim Funded early education and childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds your childcare provider will ask you to complete a Registration form the first term they claim the funding on your behalf.

They will also ask you to complete a Declaration of attendance form at the beginning of every new funded period to record how many funded hours they will be claiming for your child.

You should read the Parent or legal guardian declaration on these forms carefully before signing as they form part of your legal contract with the childcare provider.

You may also be asked to provide some information to see if your family meet the criteria for the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) or Disability Access Fund. This scheme provides additional government funding for childcare providers to improve the education they provide for eligible 3 and 4 year olds receiving funded early education.

What to do if you are unhappy with the childcare your child is receiving

Discuss any problems with your childcare provider as soon as they come up so that you can both try to resolve them quickly. It is usually easier to resolve problems or misunderstandings at an early stage rather than allowing them to escalate. If you are still unhappy you could put your concerns in writing or email so that you have a record of them.

If you decide to terminate your contract with your childcare provider you will need to ensure you give notice as per your contract. However, if think they have broken the terms of your contract you could contact Citizen's Advice Bureau for some legal advice.

Further reading

You can find further information about finding and paying for childcare in our Choosing childcare booklet.

Files available to download