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Childcare checklist

General tips

  • Begin your search for the right childcare well in advance
  • Visit the childcare provider to get a feel for the daily routine
  • Take your child with you to see whether they like it too
  • Visit when busy and, if possible, make a return visit so that you can see the setting at different times during the day and week
  • Take time to choose carefully and visit as many different providers as possible

General questions to ask yourself and carers:

Atmosphere 

  • Does the place have a friendly feel?
  • Does it have plenty of space inside and out?
  • Do other children seem happy and interested?
  • Is there lots of stimulating toys, books, and pictures?
  • If there’s no outside space, where do children play in the fresh air?

Play

  • Is there a variety of creative equipment? eg. painting stations, sand pits and play areas
  • Are children interacting with adults and other children?

Safety

  • What happens in an emergency?
  • What precautions have been put in place?
  • Do they have finger guards on doors?
  • Is it secure?
  • Do they have visitor control systems in use? Your child’s safety should be top priority

Staff/carers

  • Is there at least one member of staff for every eight children between three and five years old?
  • Will there be a key person with special responsibility for your child?
  • Who can you talk to about how your child is doing?
  • Are the staff well-trained?
  • Can you see the latest Ofsted reports? You can usually view reports online.

Interaction

  • are children playing and talking?
  • are staff keeping children interested and are the children encouraged to ask questions of their own?

Other important questions

  • Is there a written policy for misbehaviour in place? Ask to see it.
  • Can they provide childcare that fits in with your work hours?
  • What costs are involved? For example, is there a charge for late pick-up?
  • Is there healthy food available? Is water available whenever children want it?

For more information

Visit the Family Information Service Directory.