Things to look for when choosing Childcare

How is Childcare Inspected?

Childcare providers caring for children under the age of eight, must be registered with Ofsted. Registration includes a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) which is a criminal records check on anyone involved in providing childcare and an inspection of the premises to look at health and safety issues. We can tell you whether the childcare provider is registered, or you can ask to see their registration certificate. All registered childcare providers must display their registration certificate and insurance details on the premises. 

The following types of care do not have to be registered with Ofsted:
• Care for children aged eight and over
• Care where children stay for less than two hours
• Activity based groups
• Care that is provided in the child’s home (e.g. nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters)
However, if the provider meets Ofsted’s requirements and wishes to register voluntarily, they can do so, unless the childcare is provided directly by a school.

Childcare is inspected by Ofsted regularly (first inspection is within 30 months of registering and then they are inspected during a six year cycle depending on their last inspection grade). Inspection reports for all childcare providers are available on the Ofsted website: To look at Ofsted reports, please visit their website. You can search by provider name, postcode or their unique reference number.

If you have a concern or a complaint you cannot resolve with your registered childcare provider, you can call Ofsted’s compliance team on 0300 123 4666 or put your complaint in writing to Ofsted general enquiries line is 0300 123 1231. Ofsted does not usually become involved in complaints over fees and contractual arrangements.

Day nurseries, pre-school playgroups, crèches, out of school clubs and holiday play schemes must have;
• one member of staff for every three children under two years old
• one member of staff for every five children aged two years old
• one member of staff for every eight children aged three to eight years old
How many children can a childminder care for?
A childminder may care for a maximum of six children under the age of 8. Of these six children, a maximum of three may be young children and there should only be one child under the age of one (a child is a young child until 1st September following their 5th birthday).  If a Childminder has an assistant then these numbers can change. Any care provided for older children must not adversely affect the care of children receiving early years provision. The childminder’s own children are included in these numbers unless an exception is agreed with Ofsted. Asking to see inspection certificates and reports may help you make a decision about a childcare provider but is no substitute for visiting yourself and using your own judgement.
Childminder Agencies
Please note that some Childminders register with Ofsted via a private Childminder Agency. The childcare provider should let you know if this is the case. Childminder agencies guide 
Contract with your childcare provider
This is a legal and binding document between you and your childcare provider that sets out what is being agreed for your child’s care. Before signing the contract you should read it thoroughly and check that you are clear with what you are agreeing to particularly around notice periods for changes to the care you are being offered and if you wish to cease the care and well as all charges relating to the care. For more information on childcare contracts please visit PACEY.
What should I look for when I visit?

It is important to visit childcare settings and ask lots of questions before you make your choice. Childcare providers should be willing to show you around and answer your questions. Here are some things that you may want to ask and look out for when you visit.

What will you have to pay? Is there a retainer fee or deposit? When and how do you pay? What do the costs cover (e.g. nappies/food/days out/additional activities)? Are there any additional costs? What will happen if you are late picking up your child? What will happen if your child can’t attend due to sickness or holidays? Do they offer early education funding including the 30hrs extended childcare? Do they accept payment by childcare vouchers or through tax-free childcare?

The Staff
What training and experience do the staff have? Will your child have a main carer (or key worker) and who will this be? What is the staff-to-child ratio? Are staff warm, caring and interacting with the children? Do the staff make you feel welcome and are they happy to answer your questions?

Your child
What activities will your child do? What is the daily routine? How will you find out what your child has done? Where will your child play/sleep/eat? How will they settle your child in? How many other children are there and of what ages? How do they promote positive behaviour?

The environment
Does the building feel comfortable, warm and safe? Is there enough space, including outdoor space to run and play? What are the health and safety procedures? What food do they provide? Do they serve fresh fruit and vegetables? Is there easy access to drinking water? Is there a good variety of books, toys and equipment and are they clean and in good condition? Are the toilets, basins and changing facilities clean and appropriate? Are there different rooms for babies and toddlers or for different activities? Do the other children appear happy and confident?
Things to agree with the childcare provider
Your working hours and times you will be able to drop off/collect. Any additional needs your child may have, including dietary requirements, allergies or medications. Your child’s normal sleep patterns, likes and dislikes or fears. How to contact you in an emergency. Who else cares for your child and who can collect your child on your behalf.
Children with additional needs and/or disabilities
Solihull Local Offer website provides information about services and support for children and young people with disabilities or special educational needs in Solihull. Please visit our website here.

If you need help finding a childcare place for a child with additional needs and/or disabilities, or if your child needs extra support to attend a childcare setting please contact us so that we can support and advise you further.

Average Childcare Costs
Type of ChildcareMinimumMaximumAverage
Childminder (Hourly)£3.50£6.50£4.75
Childminder (Daily)£25.00£47.00£40.00
Day Nursery (Daily)£34.12£64.89£53.00
Pre-School Playgroup (Session)£10.00£20.00£15.19
Before School (Session)£2.15£7.75£4.98
After School (Session)£6.50£15.00


Please note above costs are correct for the Solihull area as of August 2022