Childcare providers

There are different types of childcare provider:

  • Day nurseries provide professional care for children aged 0 to 5. This can be full-time or part-time.
  • Experienced childminders look after a small number of children in their own home.
  • Au pairs are usually untrained and live in your home. They help with childcare and household chores.
  • Nannies look after children in your home. They may live in your home or visit daily. They are not always trained.
  • Creches provide childcare for limited periods of time during the day.
  • School clubs are available before and after school, and sometimes during school holidays. They are for school-aged children.

Children aged 3 to 4 years old are entitled to some free nursery care. How many hours you can get depends on where you live in the UK. Costs for other childcare options vary, depending on where you live and the type of support you need.

Childcare providers

This information gives you some ideas about different childcare options and how to find the support you need. Usually people only need extra support temporarily.

The cost of childcare may use a big chunk of the family budget. You may want to plan your finances carefully and claim all the help available to you. We have more information about financial help with childcare costs.

If you are having difficulties with childcare, you can talk to our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.


Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide full-time or part-time professional care for children aged 0 to 5. Some provide out-of-school care. They can be private, voluntary or run by a local authority. Prices vary across the country.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, your local Family Information Service can give you a list of nurseries in your area. These are called Childcare Information Services in some areas. If you live in Northern Ireland, search for nurseries near you through Northern Ireland Family Support. Day Nurseries has recommendations for nurseries throughout the UK.

All children in their final pre-school year (aged 3 to 4 years old) are entitled to free care for a maximum of 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year. How many hours you can get depends on where you live in the UK. Children aged 2 from families claiming certain benefits may also be eligible for free care, depending on where they live. To find out if you are eligible, contact your:


Childminders

Childminders provide experienced care in their own home. All childminders have to be registered. They are inspected regularly to make sure they meet child welfare standards. You should ask to see their registration and inspection certificates.

A childminder can look after up to 6 children under the age of 8. But no more than 3 of them can be under 5, and only 1 child can be under a year old. They can also look after children over the age of 8. But this must not affect the care of the children under the age of 8.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, your local Family Information Service can give you a list of registered childminders in your area. If you live in Northern Ireland, search for childminders near you through Northern Ireland Family Support. Across the UK, you might also find adverts in your local newspaper.


Au pairs

Au pairs are usually untrained carers who provide a basic level of childcare and other household chores in your home. They do not have to be registered, and they may not have childcare experience. Au pairs often come from another European country to study English. They help in the home for 25 to 35 hours a week, spread over 5 days. You must provide them with an allowance, meals and their own bedroom. You can find out about au pairs by contacting an agency. You can do this through your local newspaper or through organisations such as the British Au Pair Agencies Association.


Nannies

Nannies look after children in your own home. They care for children of all ages. There are live-in nannies and nannies that visit on a daily basis. Nannies are not always trained. They do not have to be registered, but they can voluntarily register. You may prefer to use a registered nanny.

You can find out more by contacting a nanny agency. Our list of useful organisations could also help.


Creches

Creches provide supervised childcare for a limited time. They care for children across a wide age range, from young babies up to around 8 years old.


School clubs

School clubs provide care and play for school-aged children, usually up to the age of 11. They are often available before and after school. Some school clubs are also available during school holidays.

Back to Childcare

Help getting childcare

You may find it hard to care for your children as you would like to. Try not to feel guilty about asking for help.