Childcare providers

Childcare can be provided by:

  • Experienced childminders, who look after a small number of children in their home.
  • Au pairs, who are usually untrained and live in your home. They help with childcare and household chores.
  • Day nurseries, which provide professional care for children 0-5 years old. This can be full time or part time.
  • Nannies, who look after children in your home. They may live in your home or visit daily. They are not always trained.
  • Crèches, which provide childcare for limited periods of time during the day.

Kids clubs, which are available before and after school for school-aged children.

Local authority day nurseries in the UK can provide some free care to all children aged 3-4 years old. Costs for other childcare options vary according to what you want and where you live.

Childcare providers


Childminders provide experienced care within their own home. All childminders have to be registered and 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 six children under the age of eight, but no more than three of them can be under five, and only one child under one. Children over eight can also be looked after as long as it doesn't affect the care of the under-eight-year-olds. Costs vary depending on the services they offer. Your local council can give you a list of registered childminders in your area. The and Family Support NI websites can also provide you with local childminder contacts. Or you can find adverts in your local paper.

Au pairs

Au pairs are usually untrained carers who provide a basic level of childcare and domestic duties in your home. They don’t have to be registered and may not have relevant childcare experience. Au pairs often come from another European country to study English. They help in the home for 25-35 hours a week, spread over five days. You must provide them with an allowance, meals and their own room. You can find out about au pairs by contacting an agency. This can be done either through your local paper, the phonebook or on websites, such as the British Au Pair Agencies Association.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide full or part-time professional care for children from 0–5 years. Some provide out-of-school care. They can be private, voluntary or run by a local authority. Prices vary across the country. In England and Wales, you can search for nurseries on the website. In Scotland, visit Scottish Families Information Services , and in Northern Ireland, visit the Family Support NI website. The Day Nurseries website has recommendations for nurseries throughout the UK.

All children in their final pre-school year (aged 3–4 years old) are entitled to free care for a maximum of just under 16 hours a week for 38 weeks a year. This entitlement depends on where you live in the UK. Two-year-old children from families claiming certain benefits may also be eligible for free care depending on where they live. Contact you local authority (or Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland) to find out if you are eligible.


Nannies look after children in the family home. They care for children of all ages. There are live-in nannies and nannies that visit on a daily basis. Nannies aren’t always trained and don’t have to be registered, although they can voluntarily register. You may prefer to use a registered nanny. Costs vary depending on where you live and whether the nanny lives with you or not. You can find out more by getting in touch with a nanny agency.


Crèches provide supervised childcare for a limited period of time. The age range of children being cared for may vary from young babies up to around eight years old on average. Costs vary.

Kids clubs

Kids clubs provide care and play for school aged children, usually up until the age of 11. They’re often available before and after school. Some school clubs are also available during school holidays. Costs vary.

We hope this information gives you some useful ideas about different options available to you and helps you find the childcare you need. Usually the need for extra support is temporary. When your treatment is finished, side effects, such as tiredness, will gradually improve and you’ll be able to get back to your normal family routine. If you are having difficulties with childcare and would like to talk things over, you can contact one of our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

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Help getting childcare

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