A Working Mum
When you're thinking about returning to the working environment you also realise that you'll have to think about childcare options. For information about childcare providers in your area, contact your local authority Family Information Service (FIS).
Your local FIS is a free information service for parents and carers of children aged 0 to 19. They can give information and advice to help you find and choose childcare, and also help you find activities for your children locally.
One of the many childcare options available is a day nursery.
Day nurseries offer care for children under five years old, however not all nurseries have the facility to take babies. They provide fun and learning opportunities on a full or part-time basis and are usually open all year.
There are different kinds of day nurseries – private, community, local authority or workplace. The size and facilities they provide may vary.
Finding the day nursery takes time, so try to begin your search plenty of time before you need your child to start at nursery. Popular nurseries may have waiting lists.
All nurseries must be registered with and inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).
Ofsted registration requirements will specify the number of children that are allowed to be on the premises at any time and the ratio of staff to children. The minimum ratios are as set out below:
Children aged 0 – 2 yrs - 1 adult to every 3 children
Children aged 2 – 3 yrs - 1 adult to every 4 children
Children aged 3 – 5 yrs - 1 adult to every 8 children
Every registered day nursery has an Ofsted registration certificate which indicates the maximum number of children that can be cared for on the premises and their registration certificate must be clearly displayed within the nursery.
All registered day nurseries caring for children aged from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday must register on the Early Years Register and deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage – a framework for the delivery of quality integrated care and education for children.
Try and visit as many day nurseries as you can before making a final decision. Some things to consider and questions to ask
- Visit the nursery with your child. Are you made welcome? Are the staff well presented, happy, calm and confident?
- What's their policy on behaviour management and diet. What are the emergency procedures?
- Ask about staff qualifications and about staffing ratios.
- Will they keep a diary of your child’s day?
- Do the children in the nursery look happy and well occupied? Are the staff involved with the children?
- Have a good look at the accommodation. Is it attractive, clean and well organised? Is there a safe outside play area? Is the equipment of good quality, safe and appropriate?
General points to consider
- All young children need a variety of learning experiences e.g. quiet times, noisy, messy play, creative and imaginative play, outdoor activities and physical play.
- It is important that for most of the day children are able to move freely around activities and make choices. Are both boys and girls encouraged to take part in all activities?
- In group care, all children need to receive some individual attention. This is especially important for babies and toddlers. Ask whether young children will have their own key worker.
- Are different cultures positively represented in the toys, books and wall displays?
- Look at what happens between the adults and the children. They need to be involved together in activities and enjoy each others company.
- Make sure that the provision meets any needs your child may have and that it takes into account your child’s age and cultural background.
- Will the staff set aside time to talk to you about your child? Are you able to see any records kept about your child?
- You should sign an agreement with the carer of your child but be certain you are happy with its contents.
Nursery fees vary. However, a full time place for a child under 2 years is in the region of about £160 - £180 for a week. You will need to enquire what the fees cover. Do you have to supply your own nappies? Do they cover e.g. meals and outings?
Ask the nursery about their settling in policy. The nursery staff will have a lot of experience in settling children. Some children can be upset at first - this is only natural - but with gentle reassurance this phase will pass.