Knowledge Centre for recruitment

Choosing Childcare - some checklists

The following does not provide advice on what is best for you. It aims, however, to provide some information to help you think through your own plans.

Deciding on Options

Some things to consider when making a decision about the type of childcare:

  • What do you need in terms of development, education and social play
  • How many children do/will you have
  • Can you travel to a carer
  • Can you take a career break, job share or work part time
  • Are you the primary carer or are you sharing this equally
  • Do you want your child's care based at home
  • Do you need additional help in the home
  • Would your prefer single or multiple carers
  • How much can you afford to pay
  • Do you have relatives or friends to help on a full/part/occasional/emergency basis
  • How flexible do the carer's hours or days need to be
  • Can you leave work at short notice
  • Can you leave work to collect your child from school and take them to an after school club
  • Can you provide accommodation for a live-in carer

When considering preschool age children there are broadly the following options:

  • Parent says at home
  • Relative or friend
  • Childminder
  • Playgroups
  • Au pair
  • Nanny
  • Nursery

...or a combination such as:

  • you and a friend both work part time and take care of each others children on your work days
  • you combine part time work with a Nursery
  • you share a nanny with a friend

Choosing a Nursery

Listed are some of the things to think about and questions to help you choose the right nursery for you and your child. Clearly it would be highly unlikely that any one nursery will provide all of this - the list aims to help you consider what you might need and help you prioritise.

  • What are the opening hours and are they flexible
  • Whey do they close for holidays
  • Do they provide activities during the holiday period, or after school for older children
  • Do they offer part-time, short days, ad hoc days
  • What age range do they take
  • How many places are there in total
  • Are there any vacancies
  • What is the turnover
  • How long is the waiting list
  • What are the fees, how do you pay
  • Are there any discounts for additional children
  • Are fees payable if the child is not at nursery
  • What period of notice for leaving is required
  • What type of food do you offer? Ask to see menus
  • Do you provide formula, feeding bottles etc and what provisions have they for sterilising
  • What is the procedure should a child become ill
  • If they are ill can they still attend
  • Do you require a parent to be 'on call'
  • do any staff have first aid certificates
  • What precautions are taken to ensure children are not released without their parents permission
  • What turnover of staff do you have
  • What is the ration of children to nursery nurses
  • What childcare qualifications do the nursery nurses have
  • Do you mix older and younger children together
  • What is taught. eg reading, writing, self hygiene, behaviour, creative skills, singing, music etc
  • How do they approach discipline
  • How do they approach potty training
  • What educational toys are provided
  • How do parents and staff liaise over children
  • Are their outside facilities, how often do children get to play outside
  • Can parents visit during the day
  • Does a Health Visitor attend regularly to weigh the babies
  • Do they provide a pick-up service to and from local schools
  • Do they provide after hours/baby sitting services?
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