Help choosing a childcare provider

Use this guide to help you when choosing a childcare provider.

Questions you could ask


  • Do you offer free childcare and early education places for two, three and four-year-olds, including 30 hours?
  • What are your opening hours and holiday dates?
  • What happens if my child arrives late?
  • Do you accept same-day bookings? If so, is there a cut-off time and additional charges?
  • How many children do you look after at any one time?
  • Can children move freely around the setting?
  • What is the adult-to-child ratio?
  • Can children choose their own activities?
  • How will you keep me informed about my child's progress?
  • What qualifications and experience do your staff have?
  • How will my child’s individual needs be met?
  • How does the key person system work in this setting?
  • What is your ethos and your aspiration for children that attend?
  • What can I do to support my child's development and learning?
  • How will you know about and respond to my child's interests?

Children with additional needs

  • Who is the special education needs coordinator (SENCO)?
  • Is it possible to meet the SENCO today?
  • How will I be able to meet or talk to the SENCO?
  • Could I have a copy of the special educational needs policy?
  • Are there other children with similar needs at the setting?
  • Is it possible to have extra staff to support my child?
  • Will staff be trained to meet my child’s needs?
  • Is the building accessible, with wheelchair access, wide doors, ramps and toilets?
  • How will my child’s diet be catered for?
  • How will my child be helped to settle in?
  • Will you ensure that there is appropriate equipment to meet my child’s needs?


  • Do you require a deposit?
  • What are the hourly, sessional or daily rates?
  • What are the costs if my child is taken out of provision for a holiday?
  • How do I pay – cash, direct debit or cheque?
  • Do you accept childcare vouchers?
  • Do you take payment in advance and how often? Weekly, monthly, half-termly or termly?


  • What happens if my child is ill or can’t attend?
  • What menus or meals are offered? Is there a choice?
  • Is water readily available? What about snacks?
  • What are the emergency procedures?
  • Do you have a settling in process for new children?
  • Is there a place for children to rest or be calm?

You can ask them what their policies are on:

  • health and safety
  • safeguarding, including child protection
  • equalities, including special educational needs and disabilities
  • complaints
  • behaviour management
  • administering medicines - are staff happy to be shown how to give my child their medicine? Do they have the relevant insurance?
  • responding to specific health needs
  • risk assessments.