Types of Childcare
Choosing childcare may be one of the most important decisions you will have to make for your child. There are many different types of childcare to choose from and we have described them below for you.
If you would like further details on the childcare in your area then contact the Families Information Service
who hold just about everything there is to know about childcare in County Durham.
A crèche provides occasional care for children who are under 8 years of age. Some crèches are set up in permanent places and provide care for children whilst their parents/carers are shopping or doing sport. Some crèches are set up on a temporary basis to care for children whose parents/carers are attending a conference or exhibition.
Playgroups or pre-school are available for children aged 2-5 years and normally last around 3 hours per session. They provide opportunities for play and sometimes nursery education if they are registered with the Local Education Authority (LEA).
Childminders are self employed carers based in their own homes and must be registered with OfSTED. Annual safety checks are carried out by OfSTED on the home and the childminder. In addition, all adults living in the childminders home are checked by the police. A childminder is allowed to look after up to six children under eight years old including their own, but only three of them can be aged under five. Childminders must provide a smoke free environment. All childcare providers have to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (national standards) relating to health and safety, equipment and the care and learning they provide.
Parent and Toddler Groups
Parent and Toddler groups are available for children aged 0-5 and provide an informal, friendly gathering where parents and carers can share the pleasures and the anxieties of bringing up a small child. They are usually set up in the local church hall or community centre and run by volunteers, normally the parent/carers themselves. Parent/carers are responsible for their own children. They enable you to meet other parents and carers in a friendly atmosphere and chat over a cup of tea, knowing your children are safely enjoying themselves nearby. They are open to anyone who wishes to use them.
A nanny is someone who will care for your child or children in your own home. Nannies may live on the premises. There is currently no legal requirement for nannies to be registered or inspected by anyone unless you share them with more than one other family. This means that in most cases no checks are made on them. You may find a nanny through a nanny agency, by advertising, by recommendation from someone you know or by contacting your local college. Nanny agencies advertise in Yellow Pages, in magazines like Nursery World and on the internet. A reputable agency would be registered with the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services. Nanny agencies are not regulated in any way. They do not have to make any checks on the suitability of nannies. Ask what safeguards they offer but remember that the safety and protection of your children is ultimately your responsibility. If you decide that a Nanny is what you want you must remember that you will be the nanny’s employer. You are required by law to give your nanny a contract within the first eight weeks which sets out a start date, requirements for notice of termination, salary, including tax and national insurance contributions, hours, holidays, main duties and sick pay.
Out of School Clubs
Out of school services are for school age children to play and learn and have fun in groups. They are usually based in or near schools and more are being set up to help families where parents work. Out of school services can be registered with the local authority and inspected each year. They are run outside school hours by a team of staff, usually called playworkers. Activities should be planned to help children learn, play and relax with their friends. Playworkers will often pick children up from local schools. There are different types of out of school services so look around to find one that suits you and your child. There are different types of out of school provision as detailed below: Breakfast clubs – open in the mornings before school so children can enjoy breakfast there. After school clubs – open in the afternoons between about 3.30pm and 6.00pm. Holiday playschemes – open during school holidays between about 8.30am and 6.00pm. Out of school services are also called Kids' Clubs. There will be a charge for out of school services, so you need to ask the cost when you visit the club.
Private, Voluntary and Independent Nurseries
Private, voluntary or independent nurseries usually provide full day care, early years education and play for up to the age of five. They are generally open 8.00am to 6.00pm, although some only operate on a sessional basis (this is either morning or afternoon sessions). The majority of these nurseries are open weekdays, all year round (except for Bank Holidays) but some are only open in term time and close for school holidays. Decided yet? If not there are a few brochures that you can request which will give you more information or get in touch with the Families Information Service.
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