Types of childcare to choose from

There are many different types of childcare available, you can combine them to find the solution which best meets your needs.

Each of the childcare options below offers different advantages and flexibility:

Childminders
Crèches
Day nurseries
Home based child carers, nannies and au pairs
Nursery schools and classes maintained by Lancashire County Council
Nursery units of independent schools
Out of school care
Pre-school playgroups
Children's centres

Childminders

Childminders are registered by Ofsted to look after children from birth to age eight, although most will offer care for children aged up to 11 or over. They are usually based in the childminder's own home. They can look after up to six children under the age of eight at a time, although only three of those children should be under five. In their care, your child will experience learning and development activities suitable for their age and stage of development.

Childminders follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework when caring for under fives. You can use their services full time or for just a few hours a week. Most are open 48 to 51 weeks a year. You should expect to pay between £2.50 and £4 an hour, or up to £50 a day, but it will really depend on where the childminder lives, the number of children they care for, any special requirements your child has and how many hours care you need them for.

Look for childminders in your area

Crèches

Crèches provide short periods of care to cover things such as shopping trips, meetings or training sessions. They provide a play area for a small group of children whose parents are busy doing other things but are still on the same premises. They may be open all day, but a child cannot stay for more than four hours. The cost varies from free to about £4.50 an hour.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries are registered by Ofsted to provide care and early education for children from birth to age five, although some will care for children aged up to 11 at breakfast, after school and during school holidays.

The number of children they can care for depends on the space in the building and the number of staff working there. Ofsted have set clear guidelines about the number of staff required to make sure children are safe and that their needs are met. These guidelines are listed below.

For children under two

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every three children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification, and must be suitably experienced in working with children under two
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification
  • At least half of all staff must have received specific training in the care of babies
  • If there is a separate room for the under-twos, the member of staff in charge of that room must have suitable experience of working with under-twos

For children aged two

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every four children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification

For children aged three and over

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every eight children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification

Day nurseries follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework when caring for under fives. Day nurseries in Lancashire are usually open from 7.30am to 6pm, although some open earlier and close later to meet parents’ needs. Most are open 48 to 51 weeks a year. You should expect to pay between £3 and £4.50 an hour, or up to £45 a day, but it will really depend on; where the nursery is, the number of children they care for, any special requirements your child has and how many hours of childcare you need.

Look for day nurseries in your area

Home based child carers, nannies and au pairs

These people can provide childcare and some other domestic services in your own home. Some will have registered on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register, in which case you can be sure that:

  • they have an awareness of the common core skills of childcare
  • they have had a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously CRB check) to make sure they’re safe to work with children
  • they meet other relevant requirements such as holding a first aid qualification and suitable public liability insurance

However most of these carers may not be registered and you will have to assess for yourself whether they’re suitable.

One of the most common ways to find a home-based child-carer, nanny or au pair is through a recruitment agency. They will usually have already carried out checks on the people on their books. But make sure you ask them this, so that you know what you need to check for yourself. If you do not go through a recruitment agency, you will be responsible for paying your employee’s tax and national insurance payments. Most will work flexible hours to suit you. This includes evenings, weekends and holidays. The cost will depend on the individual childcare provider, how many hours you want them to work and, in some cases, what domestic chores you want them to carry out. You may also need to consider the cost of their accommodation, income tax and national insurance payments.

Look for home childcarers in your area

Nursery schools and nursery classes in schools maintained by Lancashire County Council

Maintained nurseries and nursery classes are attached to a school and are registered and inspected by Ofsted as part of the school’s inspection. They provide early education and care for children from age three to five, usually in morning or afternoon sessions.

Children that attend a maintained nursery or class are not guaranteed a place at the school once they reach school age. Lancashire’s nursery schools and classes offer up to 15 hours a week of childcare. However, some may be able to deliver this flexibly rather than all mornings or afternoons. Your child can receive up to 15 hours of childcare a week in a maintained nursery school or class free of charge until they start school.

If your child has reached the age of 3 by 31 August 2017, your child will be eligible for some free nursery provision from September 2017. Some two year olds may also be eligible.

Application forms are usually available from nursery schools and classes or you can download an application form (PDF, 345KB). Forms should be returned to the nursery school or class which you are applying for by 19 January 2018.

Available places remain at some nursery schools and classes during the year. These can be filled from the start of each school term and will normally be offered to children from the first day of term after their 3rd birthday.

Please see the document information for parents 2017/18 (PDF, 478KB) for contact details of nursery schools and classes provided by Lancashire County Council. It also contains the admission criteria (in section 2).

Look for maintained nurseries in your area

Nursery units of independent schools

Independent schools do not depend on national or local government funding. Instead they are financed by tuition fees and gifts. They are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspection Service, and can also opt to be inspected by Ofsted.

Many of these nursery units have extended their childcare hours to meet the needs of working parents. They usually provide childcare from around 7.30am to 6pm in term-time, and can offer full or half-day sessions. Some also offer childcare during school holidays. Your child should experience learning and development activities suitable for their age - as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Charges are usually paid once a term and vary from school to school.

Look for nursery units of independent schools

Out of school care

Many schools and private childcare providers offer a variety of care arrangements and activities for children outside standard school hours. These range from formal childcare in primary schools to study support groups, music, art and sports clubs.

Breakfast clubs usually run from 8am until school starts, although some will open from 7.30am to help meet the needs of working parents. After school clubs open at the end of the school day until 6pm onwards depending on the childcare provider.

Holiday schemes offer sessions or full-day childcare during school holidays. Not all of them are open for the whole of the holidays, so you may need to make other arrangements if you need full-time care for your children during the holidays.

You should expect to pay:

  • between £1 and £4.50 for a breakfast club session
  • between £4 and £10 for an after-school club session
  • £20 to £35 a day for a holiday scheme

Look for out of school care in your area

Pre-school playgroups

Pre-school playgroups are registered by Ofsted to provide a wide range of experiences for children to play and learn and to help them develop relationships with other children and staff.

The number of children they can care for depends on the space in the building and the number of staff working there. Ofsted have set clear guidelines about the number of staff required to make sure children are safe and that their needs are met. These guidelines are listed below:

For children aged three and over:

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every eight children.
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification.
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification.

Pre-school playgroups follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework when caring for under-fives. Pre-school playgroups provide a variety of childcare sessions. They do this in the morning or afternoon, usually during term-time, although some now offer full-time places. You should expect to pay between £5 and £19 a session, with an average of around £9 a session. However, it will really depend on; where the playgroup is, the number of children they care for, any special requirements your child has and how many hours of childcare you need.

Look for playgroups in your area

Children's centres

Children’s centres offer early education, childcare advice and have links to a range of local childcare providers.

They also offer a range of other services to children aged under 5 and their families.

Find your nearest Children's Centre and ask what help is available to you:

Find your nearest Children's Centre

Finding childcare