Types of Childcare

Registered childcare options

There are a variety of childcare options available for parents and carers.


A childminder is a man or a woman who looks after children from 0 - 8 years of age in their own home for more than two hours a day, and they receive a payment or reward for providing this service.

Many childminders offer a variety of care options, these could include a drop off or collection service to a local school, early mornings, late evenings, weekends and some childminders are registered to care for children overnight. Childminders can care for up to 6 children, this number must include any children of their own. Many childminders choose to care for older children as well, and childminders must ensure that care of the older children does not adversely affect the care of the children they are registered for.

Home Child Carers

Home child carers care for children and young people in the home of one of the children being cared for. They care for children from no more than two families. Home child carers do not have to be registered however they can if they wish to do so apply to go onto the Voluntary Childcare register, by registering with Ofsted it enables parents who are using this type of care to apply for support with childcare costs 

Day Nurseries 

Day nurseries can provide care and education for children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years old. (Not all settings offer the full age range).

Nurseries are usually open all year around apart from bank holidays and offer a range of full and part time places.  The number of children a nursery can provide care for is determined by Ofsted and this is calculated using the amount of space and staffing available.

Some day nurseries also offer a service to older children in the form of a before and after school or holiday club.

Playgroups or Pre-schools 

Pre-school playgroups provide care and early education for children aged between two and five years old. They usually offer part-time sessions during school term time only. Some playgroups may offer lunch clubs and early morning or evening care as well.

Out of School Clubs (also known as Before and After school clubs)

Out of school clubs aim to provide a safe, fun and stimulating environment for children before and after school. They usually provide care for children between 4-11years at the beginning or end of the school day. They often run from school premises, but some day nurseries may also offer this type of care. Some out of school clubs may also offer a service during school holidays.

Clubs that care for children over the age of 8 years or who operate for less than 2 hours a day do not have to be registered but may if they wish, apply to go on the voluntary childcare register.

Holiday Schemes

Holiday schemes offer activities for children between the ages of 4 years upwards during school holidays.

They can take place on school sites, in day nurseries or other venues such as sports and community centres.

If the focus of the setting is around care rather than activity based then the setting is required to register with Ofsted, however schemes that are activity based only can if they wish register on the voluntary register to enable parents who are eligible to claim support with childcare costs.

More information on the regulation of childcare providers can be found at



Page last reviewed: 08/03/2023

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