Finding the right childcare
If you are struggling to find right childcare, we have a Childcare Finder Service. One of our support staff will look at your requirements and use their broad knowledge of childcare provision in your area to help find the best options for you.
If you need help, please use our online form and we will help you with your search.
Care for children with special needs
You can find childcare in your area on Somerset’s Local Offer which is available to parents, carers and practitioners.
Somerset Family Information Direct is our free, professional and impartial advice line. Phone us on 0300 123 2224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding the right childcare to suit you and your child is really important. You need to ask yourself:
- What are the times that I will 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?
If your child is old enough ask his or her opinion. Make sure you visit first (taking your child with you) and 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 where your child can learn through play?
- Is there adequate age appropriate stimulation?
- 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 continuous professional development?
Welcome to Somerset
‘Welcome to Somerset’ is a resource for parents of children with English as an additional language.
A new film clip has been produced which gives brief information about childcare options in Somerset, in English and 10 other languages. There is also a pack of information that early years providers can share with parents and carers whose first language is not English.
Visit www.pre-school.org.uk/somerset to download the information.
Types of childcare
Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who work in their own homes caring for other people’s children. They care for small numbers of children in their home-setting and are more frequently able to take advantage of real-life learning experiences like outings to the park and library. Just like other forms of registered childcare, childminders are regulated and inspected by Ofsted.
Day nurseries look after and educate children from 3 months to 5 years and tend to open from 8am to 6pm, but some are open even longer hours. Most are open from Monday to Friday, but a few now open on Saturdays to help support parents’ different working patterns. Day nurseries operate all year round, usually with the exception of bank holidays. Most offer the free early education places that are available to all three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds.
Pre-schools provide play and education in sessions of about three hours for children between 2 and 5. Most pre-schools will be open five mornings a week, with some providing afternoon sessions as well. Some pre-schools have flexibility on the sessions your child can attend, while others are more structured with children attending five full mornings or five full afternoons. Pre-schools and playgroups tend run term time only, from around 9am to lunchtime or from lunchtime to around 3pm or 4pm, depending of the sessions they operate.
Foundation Units and Nursery classes
Some schools have foundation units or nursery classes on the same site. They can provide a good introduction to school. They are registered with Ofsted and are open term time only. Some are beginning to take children from two years old but the majority take children from the term in which they turn three.
Before and After School Clubs
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 run from the end of the school day until about 6pm. Some will also provide care at the start of the school day and they are sometimes known as ‘breakfast’ clubs. If they provide care for children under the age of eight years, then they will be registered with Ofsted.
Holiday Clubs and Play schemes
Care in the school holidays. Holiday play schemes are usually open for a standard working day to meet the needs of working parents. They run sports-based and play activities.
Crèches provide childcare to enable parents to attend an activity taking place on the same premises. Crèches are required to register if they are open for more than 2 hours on any day and more than 6 days a year. The registration certificate will show how many children may be cared for at any one time and how many staff must be provided.
A nanny is paid by you to look after your child in your home. They can live in or come to your home for set days and hours. Many have nursery nurse training or childcare qualifications, but they do not have to. There is no help for costs of nannies through the Working Tax Credit. Nannies 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.
Family 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.