Choosing childcare is a hugely important decision for the whole family. The right childcare provider will help your child to learn, have fun and make new friends, as well as meeting all their day-to-day needs and providing peace of mind for you knowing your child is being well cared for.
Types of childcare
There are many types of childcare to choose from, including:
- Home-based childcare settings, for example, a registered childminder or nanny
- Group childcare or play settings, for example, day nurseries, pre-school playgroups/cylchoedd meithrin or out-of-school childcare clubs.
There is more information on the types of childcare available and a description of these in the Welsh Government publication which is a useful read.
Childcare and play settings that provide care for children under the age of 12 for more than two hours a day must be registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Using registered childcare ensures the setting you use is meeting the national regulations and minimum standards required.
Your local Family Information Service (FIS) can support you to find childcare suitable for your child's individual need in your area. You can find out more information on the role of the FIS and contact details here.
Cwlwm (Childcare Wales Learning and Working Mutually) also works within the sector to support those working in childcare and early years and their website has relevant information linked to finding childcare through members of its partner organisations.
Things to think about
It is a good idea to contact as many childcare providers as possible before deciding which one is best for you and your child. Location is important – you could be spending a great deal of time travelling to and from the setting you choose. Before your visit, think about the questions you need to ask or other things to consider.
This could include:
- Are they registered with CIW?
- Does it appear to be a welcoming, caring and stimulating place for children?
- What facilities does the setting have and are these safe and secure?
- Does the setting offer care through your preferred language? (Welsh/ English/ Bilingual?)
- What are the opening hours? Think about the hours and days you need childcare for. Whether you work standard office hours or irregular shifts will have a big impact on your choice.
- What is the cost of childcare? Would you be able to access funding support if you chose this setting (see below)?
- What is provided and what are you expected to provide, for example, meals, snacks and nappies?
- How will your childcare arrangement fit in with the rest of your family's routine, now and in the future? Have you other children to consider, too?
- Do they have a place available for your child?
CIW also have useful information on further points to consider on Choosing Care for Children.
Support in meeting childcare costs
There is support available to help with the cost of childcare depending on where you live and your own individual circumstances. This includes:
- 30 hours Childcare Offer in Wales
- Funded part-time Foundation Phase education for all three and four year olds in Wales
- Tax Free Childcare
- Tax Credits and Universal Credit.
There is more information on these and other funding support available here.
Referral schemes are also run across Wales to help children with additional needs to attend childcare settings with other children of the same age. You can contact your local Family Information Service (FIS) for more information on these locally.