Help and advice on choosing childcare

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

How to find childcare

The first thing you will need to do is to find out exactly what's available in your area. Providers who have chosen to register with Ofsted have been approved to care for children.

Our service hold details of registered early years providers in Surrey. We receive this information from Ofsted and it is updated regularly.

Search for details of Ofsted-registered childcare providers in Surrey on our Childcare Finder:

  • Enter your location or postcode
  • Use the filter to search for different childcare types.

Ofsted inspection reports

Ofsted inspection reports can give you an impartial view of an early years provider. They contain information on how well a provider meets the standards set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage. But be aware that an Ofsted inspection only reflects a snapshot in time.

You can search for inspection reports on the Ofsted web page

If a provider is newly registered, their report may not have been uploaded to the Osted website yet. If the report is not online, contact the provider who may be able to show you a copy of the report.

What to consider when making your choice

Once you know what your options are you can start to do some research.

  • Think about what best suits your child and where they would thrive.
  • Make a list of your requirements, such as opening hours, costs, location. 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 settings 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.
  • Some providers 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 early years settings and childminders will be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to.
  • Be aware that many early years providers have waiting lists. You may have to put your child's name down at more than one in case your first choice changes or closes.
  • Once you have made a decision sign a contract with the provider. The contract should outline 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 early years provider is right for you and your child.

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