Types of childcare
There are lots of different types of childcare on offer which you can mix and match to fit within your working hours, study or training.
- Day Nurseries
- Preschools (playgroups)
- Nursery classes and nursery schools
- Out of school clubs
- Parent/carer and toddler groups
Childminders work on domestic premises, usually their own homes, caring for other people's children for more than two hours a day. They are registered and inspected by Ofsted for children up to eight years of age, but they can also cater for children over eight years. A registered childminder can provide your child with care and learning opportunities in a family setting following the Early Years Foundation Stage play-based framework.
Childminders are self-employed and therefore can set their own working hours. They can be very flexible, many offering before and after school and holiday care as well as full day care. Childminders often offer drop off and pick up services to playgroups and schools. Childminders who are part of a quality assured childminder network can also provide free early education for three and four year olds. They are usually paid on an hourly basis at a rate negotiated with the parent. For further information about childminding and childminding networks visit the National Childminding Association website.
Day nurseries (full day care) provide care for children from birth to five years and are registered and inspected by Ofsted, following the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. Day nurseries offer four or more hours per day, operate from non-domestic premises and can include private, community, council or workplace nurseries. They usually offer part or full-time places and children can be grouped by age and stage of development. Some nurseries may also offer before/after school and holiday care for children of school age.
Day nurseries are staffed by qualified and experienced people - managers and room leaders must be qualified to a Level 3 childcare qualification and 50% of the other staff must hold relevant Level 2 qualifications. There are staff ratios that must be in place. As part of the Ofsted registration process all staff will have to be checked for their suitability to work with children via the Criminal Records Bureau.
Most day nurseries are registered to deliver free places for three and four year olds.
Pre-schools or playgroups offer children between two and five years sessional care and are usually registered and inspected by Ofsted. They offer children the opportunity to engage in a range of activities and follow the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Sessions offered can be from two and a half hours to four hours during term time, some every weekday, others several days a week. Similar to day nurseries, staff must be suitably qualified, experienced and have a valid CRB certificate to ensure their suitability to work with children. Some groups may offer wraparound care to extend the sessions.
Nursery classes and schools are part of primary or independent schools. They are open during school hours, usually 9.00am to 3.30pm and can offer full or part-time places for children three to five years. Some may also offer after school and holiday care.
Ofsted ensures that these services are registered and inspected regularly. You can ask to see the school's latest inspection report and registration certificate.
Out of school clubs fit around school hours, providing care and activities and are registered and inspected by Ofsted for children up to eight years. They can also cater for children over eight and voluntarily register with Ofsted on the Childcare Register.
Out of school clubs are usually based in or near schools and staffed by a team of playworkers who will often drop off and pick children up from local schools if the club is not based on a school site. There are three different types of care:
- breakfast clubs open in the mornings before school
- after school clubs open in the afternoons between about 3.30pm and 6.00pm
- holiday playschemes open during school holidays (see below)
Activities should be planned to help children play and relax with their friends.
Holiday schemes provide a solution for parents who are looking for childcare in the school holidays. These are often provided as part of the services of existing out of school clubs although there are also other schemes that only run during the holidays.
These schemes help parents and carers who need formal childcare to help them whilst they work or train or informal schemes where parents can take a much needed break from caring for their child or children full-time. They are a wide variety of activities that come under the banner of holiday careschemes and holiday playschemes - ranging from day trips to sports and drama. They run during the school holidays, and provide another option for parents in caring for a child or children. All playschemes that look after children under the age of eight years old for more than two hours (more than six days per year) must be registered with Ofsted; playschemes for children over eight years can voluntarily register with Ofsted on the Childcare Register.
Nannies work in the home of the children they look after and will fit in with unusual working hours. Some nannies live in, others come to work daily, and others work for two or more families. Unlike childminders, nannies do not have to be registered and inspected. However, they may choose to voluntarily register with Ofsted's General Childcare Register. The most important thing to check is that you feel they are a suitable person to care for your child. You must check any qualifications and follow up references yourself. You should have a proper contract and understand your obligations as an employer, paying tax and national insurance.
Crèches provide care for children for short periods of time. They are for occasional use and can be permanently based in places like sports or shopping centres, or temporary, for example at conferences or special events. They provide childcare for children aged under eight and can voluntarily register with Ofsted on the Childcare Register.
Parent and toddler groups are informal groups of parents and carers that meet locally with their children on a regular basis. They do not have to be registered with Ofsted as parents/carers must stay with their child during these sessions. The groups provide a networking opportunity for parents and carers to mix and meet new friends.
There is no need to register your child for a parent and toddler group, just go along to the group when it is open. Parent and toddler groups usually open term-time only.
Who to contact
For further information about childcare in Salford, contact the Starting Life Well information service on 0161 909 6508, or email SLW@ salford.gov.uk.
This page was last updated on 29 February 2012