- Are the children calm, safe, and happy and do they play and talk together?
- Can you tell me about how you will protect my child and keep him/her safe at all times?
- Ask to see the childcare provider’s last Ofsted inspection, public liability insurance, registration certificate, and policies, e.g. child protection, inclusion, complaints, managing behaviour, toilet training?
- What are the opening hours/holiday/sickness arrangements?
- What immediate vacancies do they have?
- How will you support my children’s needs during the day/session?
- How will we communicate about my children’s needs on a day to day basis?
- Will my child have a specific person to support them?
- Do you encourage parental involvement?
- If my child needs to be given medication, what arrangements will I need to make?
- What are your fees?
- When are the fees payable?
- Are there any additional charges, eg: for food / nappies / outings?
- Will you charge me if we go on holiday?
- If my child is ill and kept at home will you charge me?
- Do you require a retainer if I book a place with you?
- Are you insured for outings? (car insurance, public liability).
- What about a settling in period?
- How much notice will I / you need to provide to end the arrangement?
A specific question for nurseries / pre-schools and out of school providers:
- How is your organisation managed – who is in charge? What qualifications and experience do your staff have?
Specific questions for childminders and nannies:
- Do you have any cover arrangements for your sickness or holiday commitments?
- What training, qualifications and experience do you have?
- Are you a member of a childminding network?
- Do you take children to any play based groups or Children’s Centre activities?
A child’s point of view
Children view things very differently from adults and although the issues we consider as a parent or carer are very important for our children's safety and well-being, they are often not the things most important to young children.
- Does anyone notice when I come in; do they say ‘hello'?
- Can my mum / dad / carer stay until I feel happy if I want them to?
- Can I reach the things I need (toys, handles, toilet)?
- Are there any people, or pictures of people, who look like me?
- Is there somewhere safe for my things?
- Is there somewhere I can be quiet/by myself?
Things to do
- Are there a variety of things to play with?
- Can I choose what I play with?
- Is there something different to do each time?
- Can I play outside when I want to?
Food and sleep
- What happens if I am thirsty or hungry?
- Will they make me eat food I don't usually eat at home?
- Will they make me go to bed if I'm not tired?
- Do I have a specific person to look after me?
- Who do I tell if something is wrong?
- If I really want my mum / dad / carer, will they get them for me?
- Can I bring my teddy / toy / comforter with me?
- Does anyone tell me what I am allowed and not allowed to do?
- What happens if I do something wrong?
- What happens if I wet my pants? Will they be cross?
- What happens if other children hurt or frighten me?
- Can I help make the rules?
Whenever and wherever possible visit as many childcare providers as you can, this will help you make an informed decision about the right setting for you and your child. Also, ask your child for their thoughts and suggestions. Remember they know you better than anyone else and you know them better than anyone else.