Finding someone to look after your children 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 yourself or your family 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.
Advertising for childcare online
Some services give the opportunity for parents/carers to advertise the fact that they 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.
What information may not be safe to share?
It would not be safe to leave details like:
- 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 children’s names, gender, appearance, age, or other identifying details - This could be used for fraud or other illegal practices.
- When and from where your children 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 the information you provide may not be the people you intended to reach.
How can I find childcare securely?
Local authorities have a duty to provide details of local approved childcare providers. Surrey Family Information Service provides details of Ofsted registered childcare providers through our Childcare Finder or you can contact us.
You can also have the reassurance that the information you provide to a local authority will be held securely, and not widely available to view.
You may also find our web page about Choosing and arranging childcare helpful.
If you need someone to look after your children for a short period of time, whilst you are on a night out for example, you might want to ask an older child, friend, young person you know or somebody else to look after your children. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing someone to babysit your children in this way including:
- 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 children? - You could ask your children 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.
Further information about factors to take into account when choosing a babysitter can be found on our babysitting web 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 a 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).