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Choosing childcare - why quality matters

Good quality early education and childcare helps your child to:

  • Be happy and confident
  • Manage their feelings and build relationships
  • Develop their communication and literacy skills
  • Enjoy play and learning

Research shows that positive experiences in a child's early life have a significant impact on their wellbeing, development and future success.

How can I find good quality childcare?

All registered early education and childcare providers are inspected by Ofsted to ensure they follow the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). You can get a copy of a provider's inspection report from the Ofsted website.

The Norfolk Community Directory has a list of all Ofsted registered early education and childcare providers in the county. It has a description of the services and facilities available and a link to the provider's website (if they have one).

If you are struggling to find early education and childcare, you can contact Norfolk Family Information Service. They can help you to find out what's available in your area.

Ten essentials checklist when looking for quality childcare

  • Start looking as soon as you can - early education and childcare can get booked up quickly and there might be a waiting list
  • Talk with others - find out what other parents think of the childcare providers that you are interested in
  • Make a shortlist - make an appointment to visit the providers that you are interested in. You may wish to ask questions about:
  • Vacancies, costs and up to date information about government funded hours
  • Registration and the parent-provider agreement/contract
  • Opening times and holiday dates
  • Safety and security
  • How the provider supports children with special educational needs and/or a disability
  • Arrangements for mealtimes and naps 
  • Visit more than one provider - compare the day-to-day routines and environments. Ask about the settling in process and how you can work with the provider to support your child's transition from home into the setting.
  • Look at the whole environment, indoors and outdoors - do you feel that your child would enjoy being here? Are the children talking and playing together? High quality childcare providers should offer a well-planned curriculum to meet individual children's interests and development needs. This should include good quality resources and opportunities for play and learning inside and out.
  • Are the staff friendly and welcoming? - Are they warm and responsive? Do they meet all of the children's needs? Ask the provider about the key person system and what this will mean for your child.
  • Ask about staff qualifications and experience - Studies show that staff qualifications and training and warm relationships are key to high quality early years education.
  • Ask about how you will be involved in your child's care and early learning. Knowing what they expect from you, and what you can expect of providers will help build a partnership. Good providers understand that you know your child. Ask about how they support home learning.
  • Read the contract/agreement before you sign and/or pay any fees. Signed childcare contracts are legally binding. If you have any concerns about your contract, contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau for advice.
  • Ask about the process for your child to transition into school. Having a place at a pre-school or nursery class does not guarantee a place in any school attached to it.

If you need any further help or advice to find a quality early education and childcare place, contact the Norfolk Family Information Service.

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