Finding someone to look after your child when you're busy can be a challenge, especially at short notice. Despite this it is important to make sure the choices you make do not leave you or your children at risk. We have created this page to help you make informed choices about childcare and to ensure that the childcare you choose is the safest possible.
How can I find childcare securely?
Local authorities have a duty to provide details of Ofsted registered childcare providers in their area. These will have been inspected by Ofsted to make sure they meet their regulations and all staff will have had a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (Gov.uk).
Advertising your details safely online
Alternatively, you may prefer to use a service that gives you the opportunity to advertise the fact that you are looking for childcare, either online or through other means. If you decide to advertise, it is important to be careful about how much personal information you share.
- Your home address - This detail along with others may be used for identity fraud, or other crime.
- Your routine or work pattern - This may give an idea of when someone is not at home so could be used for criminal purposes such as burglary.
- Your child's name, appearance, age, or other identifying details - This could be used for fraud or other illegal practices.
- When and from where your child might need collection - This information being openly available could put a child at risk of being the victim of serious crimes such as abduction.
Even if you are advertising through a website which appears to be legitimate, it is worth considering that those reading your information may not be the people you intended to reach.
If you need someone to look after your child for a short period of time, you might ask an older child, friend, or young person you know to do this. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing someone to babysit your child:
- A person's age - Although there is not a legal age where a person can babysit, the NSPCC urge caution if using anyone under the age of 16, as someone of this age may not have the maturity or authority to be left in charge safely.
- Experience - Would your babysitter know how to respond in an emergency? If you have more than one child or a child with additional needs, have they any experience of this type of care?
- How do they interact with your child? - You could ask your child afterwards how it went, to give you an idea whether this would be an appropriate arrangement in future.
The NSPCC recommends parents trust their intuition, and to not be afraid to ask who they can contact for references.
More information about what to think about when choosing a babysitter is available on our babysitting page.
Asking a childcare professional to babysit
You may find it more reassuring to ask someone who already looks after your child on a formal basis to babysit, for instance a staff member at their nursery.
Every childcare provider should have a Babysitting Policy, which will either state that staff cannot babysit children or can with certain conditions. Further details about this can be found in the Early Years and Childcare Service - Babysitting Policy (PDF).