Finding the right childcare
You can find a list of childcare providers here:
The list includes childminders, pre-schools and nurseries and it can be filtered in many ways, including by distance from your home and whether they offer funded places.
If you are struggling to find appropriate childcare, we also have a Childcare Finder service. This means that one of our Somerset Council staff will look at your needs and use their extensive knowledge of childcare provision in your area to help you find the best options for you.
This is a free, professional and impartial service. To use this service, fill in our online form below.
Types of childcare
Finding the right type of childcare to suit you and your child is really important. You need to ask yourself
- What times will I need childcare?
- Where do I want childcare – near my workplace, near my home, near my place of study or near my child’s school?
- What sort of environment will be best for my child –in someone else’s home, in a shared building or in a purpose built building?
Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who work in their own homes caring for other people’s children.
They care for smaller numbers of children in their home setting and they can take advantage of real-life learning experiences like outings to the park or the local library.
Just like other forms of registered childcare, childminders are regulated and inspected by Ofsted.
You can search for childminders in our find services section.
Day nurseries operate all year round, though not usually on bank holidays. They typically provide play and learning for children from 3 months to 5 years old and most are open from 8am to 6pm at least.
Most are open Monday to Friday, but a few are now open on Saturdays to help support parents’ different working patterns.
Search our services section to find day nurseries in your area.
Pre-schools provide play and learning for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years. Many pre-schools provide morning and afternoon sessions of about 3 hours each, though some run all day.
Pre-schools and playgroups usually run during term time only, and usually within school hours. Some run all year round.
Search our services section to find pre-schools in your area.
Foundation units and nursery classes
Some schools have foundation units or nursery classes on the same site and work closely with the school.
They are registered with Ofsted and are open during term time. Most take children from 2 years old and they all take children from the term in which they turn 3.
Attending a nursery class on a school site does not guarantee you a place at that school.
Before and after school clubs
Out of school clubs include after-school clubs, breakfast clubs, and holiday clubs or playschemes. Extended schools are designed to help parents balance work and family commitments while providing children with study support, and offering them a broader range of experiences and interests.
After school clubs may be offered by a school, or by a private or voluntary (charitable) provider, either on or off the school site. They often run from the end of the school day until about 6pm. Some will also provide care at the start of the school day – sometimes known as ‘breakfast clubs’.
If they provide care for children under the age of 8 years they must be registered with Ofsted.
Each school has its own arrangements for extra-curricular activities. So, speak to your child’s teacher about what is available.
Holiday clubs and play schemes
Schemes providing care during the school holidays are usually open for a standard working day to meet the needs of working parents. They often run sports-based and play activities. Again, if they provide care for children under the age of 8 years they must be registered with Ofsted.
You can find out about clubs, play schemes and activities by searching our services section – type ‘play’ or ‘holiday clubs’ into the search.
Pages you may find useful
Crèches are set up to provide occasional childcare for children so that their parents can attend an activity taking place on the same premises. They usually open for less than 3 hours at a time but this does vary.
Some crèches are registered with Ofsted on the voluntary part of the childcare register if they meet the requirements. Parents can ask for a copy of their Ofsted report if they are registered.
You can’t claim early years entitlement at crèches.
You can find out if a crèche needs to be registered by checking the Ofsted exemptions fact sheet
A nanny helps you to look after your child in your home. They can be convenient and flexible for your family and will allow you more say in your child’s routine. They are especially useful if you have more than one child.
They can live in or come to your home for set days and hours. Many nannies have nursery nurse training or childcare qualifications, but they do not have to. Nannies can register on Ofsted’s Voluntary Childcare Register but do not have to. If a nanny is registered, parents can use Childcare Vouchers to help pay for them.
The GOV.UK website has information about employing a nanny.
Families or friends
Family or friends can be free, flexible, convenient and already know your child. However, they are not registered or inspected. If you want help with childcare costs through Working Tax Credit you need to use a provider registered with Ofsted or a nationally accredited provider. There are no laws governing babysitters and it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child is safely looked after.
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SEND provision questions
If your child is old enough, ask their opinion. Make sure you visit first, taking your child with you. It is a good idea to visit more than one provider so you can compare. You will need to consider
- Is this a safe environment for your child to learn through play?
- Are there age-appropriate activities?
- If the provision is registered, check the latest Ofsted inspection report
- Do the children look like they are enjoying their experience?
- Are the staff professionally trained and does the setting encourage the staff to update their skills?
- What are the costs, and are there additional services to pay for?