We give detailed, up-to-date and impartial information on various types of childcare to suit your needs, including:


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Childminders are professional day carers who work in their own home to provide care, fun and learning for other people’s children in a family setting.

Childminders are self-employed and take care of their own tax and national insurance. They are not employed by parents. But negotiate a contract and charge fee for the service they give to families.

They are inspected and registered by Care Inspectorate.



Playgroups offer sessions for children from around two to five years of age.

Playgroups are usually run by a management committee of parents and carers of children who go to the group and they employ the staff.

Children have the opportunity to learn through play and develop their social and communication skills by interacting with other children and gain in confidence. Parents have the opportunity to take part in their child’s learning experience by helping during sessions based on a rota system.

Many playgroups work in partnership with their local authority to give free, part-time pre-school education places for three and four year olds.


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Nurseries are for children aged from birth to five years old, where they will play, learn and have fun while their parents work, study or are busy elsewhere.

They are usually open all day for most weeks in the year, except public holidays. Full and part-time places are available.

Nurseries are run by a team of staff. Activities are planned to help children develop and learn new skills, playing indoors and outdoors, making friends and sharing mealtimes. Nurseries vary in size and children are cared for in small groups according to their age.

When choosing a nursery it is important to select one that suits both you and your child, so it is worth visiting more than one.


Out of school care

Out of school services are for school age children to play, learn and have fun in groups. They are usually set up to help families where parents work, and are based in or near schools.

They are run by a team of staff, usually called playworkers. Activities are planned with the children to help them learn, play and relax with friends. Playworkers will often pick children up from local schools.

There are different types of out of school services so look around to find one that suits you and your child.

Out of school services must be registered with the Care Inspectorate if they run for more than two hours a day and more than six days per year. Registered services are inspected each year.


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Home based childcare

Childcare agencies can provide childcare in a child’s own home, at times which fit parental needs - such as in the evening or at weekends.


Parent and toddler groups

These groups are quite informal. They give parents an opportunity to meet other parents and let children experience a social setting. They give a form of support. They may only meet for a few hours each week.


Holiday schemes

These are run for school age children, usually up to age 14, and are often extensions of already existing out of school clubs. They provide care for children in the holidays, to attend for either whole days or half-day sessions. Activities such as art and crafts, swimming and ice-skating are arranged for these sessions.


More information

To read more about the different types of childcare provision available, you can download our Parent Guide:

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