Information about Childcare


Some dos and don’ts of choosing and arranging childcare (By DISC)

Finding the right type of childcare to suit you and your child is crucial, especially when there is so much to consider – what the place is like, will your child really like it there? There will be different options available in every area – what’s important is to give yourself plenty of time to research them.

Don’t leave it until the last minute. Even if you’re not yet ready for childcare, give yourself plenty of time to make your choice. If it’s popular, expect long waiting lists; interviewing and hiring a nanny or home carer can take months.

Do research the options. Call DISC Devon’s family information service on 0845 155 1013 or for a list of registered childcare in your community. Jot down basic requirements e.g. opening hours, costs, location, and make those your first questions when you phone around. You will immediately discount some of them.

Do think about your child’s age and personality. This is particularly advisable when
it comes to small babies and children under two, who need a close one-on-one relationship. You know your child best, so follow your gut instinct.

Do shop around. Aim to visit at least two or three places to meet the carer and compare what’s on offer. Make a formal appointment when you can see how the children behave, and take a list of prepared questions. Where possible (for instance, at nurseries) drop in randomly to see exactly what you walk into.

Don’t rule out combining care. If playgroups, nurseries, etc. can’t offer you five-days-a-week care, think about merging your care e.g. nursery (two days) and childminder/shared nanny (three days).

Do check references. This is vital. Most carers (including nurseries, pre-schools, etc.) will be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about their work, so take up references for peace of mind.

Don’t feel guilty about double checks. Go back for a second or third look once you’ve narrowed down your choices. This gives you the time to confirm that they meet all your requirements. Some carers will agree to trial runs before a formal agreement, to see how it’s going to work out.

Do get it all in writing once a decision has been made. Nurseries will ask you to sign a contract/letter, outlining details such as costs, rules, hours, etc. Read it carefully before signing. You should provide contracts for childminders and nannies.

You can find much more information in the SureStart publication - Looking for Childcare?
Call DISC for a copy or download it at