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Where to find information about local childcare
Many parents are lucky enough to find suitable childcare as soon as they need it, but it may take several months of searching to find somewhere that accommodates both your own and your child's needs.
Think about what you want and need from childcare and what kind of childcare would best suit your needs. For example, do you need childcare close to where you live or work? Do you need childcare early in the mornings or in the evening? Will you need additional childcare for school-age children around the school day and during school holidays? Here are some of the places where you can find out about the childcare services available in your local area.
Childcare finder tool and Family Information Services
Your local Family Information Service (FIS) is the best place to get information about registered childcare providers in your area. They hold lists of registered childminders, nurseries, out-of-school and holiday clubs, pre-schools and children's leisure activities. Some Family Information Services may also be able to provide information about unregistered childcare, such as nannies or parent-and-toddler groups.
To make it easier to search through the wide range of information your local FIS holds, we partnered with FIS's across the country to bring you the Childcare finder tool. The Childcare finder is a free postcode search tool that helps you find registered childcare and other family services in your local area. It covers all the Ofsted-registered childcare providers across England, with results provided by local FIS's. You can also use the Childcare finder to get your local FIS's contact details.
For details of your local Family Information Service outside of England:
- In Wales, contact Children in Wales on 029 2034 2434
- In Scotland, visit www.scottishfamilies.gov.uk
You may find details of local childcare providers on noticeboards at local schools, community centres, libraries, cafes and online. Always remember to check references!
Talk to other parents
Other parents' experiences of a childcare provider can be very useful. Remember, however, what works for one family may not be quite right for you! And, although personal recommendations are helpful, you should also, always, take up references. Childcare providers should be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about the service they provide.
Looking for nannies
Your Family Information Service should have details of registered nannies in your area and the Childcare finder tool can help you find these details. Childcare magazines publish details of agencies and individual nannies. You can also visit the Association of Nanny Agencies (ANA) website for details of agencies near you.
Don't miss out on free childcare
When considering your childcare options, remember that you may be able to get some financial assistance with paying for childcare. Some two year olds and all three and four year olds in England can get 570 hours of free childcare, the equivalent of 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year. There are various additional support options that may be available to you. For more details, check our 'Help with my childcare costs' guide.
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More guides that may be useful
Five steps to choosing childcare
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Help with your childcare costs
What you need to know about the 30 hours free childcare offer, tax-free childcare, universal credit and more.
Guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities in England
Find and choose the right childcare, understand the financial and local support available to you, and know your rights are as a parent.
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