High quality childcare
Frequently asked questions
How can I make sure the childcare I use is good quality?
All registered childcare services in England are registered and inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) at least once every 3 years. Following an inspection, a report on the childcare service is available and you can request to see this from the childcare provider or view it online at: www.ofsted.gov.uk and use the unique registration number of the provider to search.
As a registered service, the childcare provider is on the national childcare register and has to meet the standards and regulations set out, which are:
The Early Years Register: For all childcare providers working with children aged 5 and under. By being on this register the provider has to meet all the standards of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which includes learning and development goals for the children, staffing requirements and health and safety issues.
"When the childcare is right, it's good for parents, for children, for everyone. If you get good childcare at the beginning, hopefully it's going to help with their future." Parent
- The General Childcare Register: this is divided into two sections; the compulsory part for childcare for children aged 5-7 (inc) and the voluntary part, which is for childcare services for children aged 8 and over, childcare in the child's home, for example, nannies, and activity-based services. All providers have to meet the standards required by these registers.
In Wales, childcare for children up to the age of 8, for more than 2 hours a day is registered by Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The Childcare at Home Approval Scheme is a voluntary scheme run by CSSIW which approves providers who care for children up to the age of 8 in the child's own home. You can request to see inspection reports for childcare services in Wales using the name of the service and the post code at: www.csiw.wales.gov.uk.
In Scotland childcare services are registered and inspected by the Care Inspectorate.
When visiting a childcare provider always ask for references and speak to other parents about the care provided to get another perspective of the quality of the service.
For more information about quality in childcare services see our factsheet ‘Visiting childcare providers: How to find high-quality childcare'.
Find out more about high quality childcare and standards in childcare by downloading our free factsheet, 'Visiting childcare providers: How to find high-quality childcare'.
Read inspection reports for childcare settings at:
Find out more about help to pay for registered childcare on our Paying for childcare website.