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Good quality childcare can benefit both parents and children. Some
families use informal childcare such as other family members,
friends or neighbours. You may find you need to make more formal
Some childcare settings provide specialist services for disabled
children, however all childcare should welcome and include disabled
It is important that childcare is of good quality and meets
certain standards. In England, childcare is registered with and
regulated by OFSTED, in Scotland by the Scottish Commission for the
Regulation of Care (the Care Commission). In Northern Ireland it is
the responsibility of local health and social services trusts and
in Wales by the care and social services inspectorate.
Many families with disabled children report that childcare can
be unsuitable and availability limited. For disabled young people,
going to leisure and after school activities may pose problems
All childcare providers are required by law to make reasonable
adjustments to the way they provide a service, to ensure all
children can access activities and facilities.
The law also says that:
If you are refused a childcare place because your child is
disabled or are asked to pay more than other parents, visit our refused
Offer full and part-time care, play and learning opportunities
for children, usually in the childminder's own home. Childminders
are self-employed and may be flexible in the hours they work,
offering early mornings, evenings and weekend care.
Are primarily for children under 5 to play and learn in a group
environment, offering full and part-time places.
After school clubs and other out-of-school care
Out-of-school clubs (sometimes called kids clubs) provide
childcare and other activities for school-age children before and
after the school day and during the school holidays. Often these
are based on school sites, but they may also be in community
centres, churches, nurseries or linked to a children's centre.
Sometimes known as playgroups, offer part-time care and
education for children usually between 2½ and 5 years. Sessions
operate for around two hours but some are available for longer
Operate during the school holidays for school age children, to
provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to play and
have fun. Some offer part-time or full-time care.
Childcare in your own home
In some cases a parent may feel that it is essential that their
child is cared
for in their own home. Some parents recruit a nanny, au pair or
home childcarer via an agency, while others may look to advertise
and recruit a childcarer themselves.
Across England children's centres offer a range of services
which aim to serve children and their families until primary
school. In Wales this takes the form of integrated children's
centres, while some areas in Scotland have children and families
centres offering a range of services including childcare.
Each centre will offer integrated services (health, education,
family support and childcare), outreach to parents, a base for
childminders, and links with Jobcentre Plus and schools.
Choosing the right childcare service is important for you and
your child. You need to be confident that your child is safe,
secure and happy. For information on finding childcare in England
and Wales contact your local Family Information Service.
Find your local Family Information Service.
In Scotland contact the Scottish Family
Information Service. If you live in Northern Ireland contact your local
health and social services community trust for more
Your local health visitor and/or social worker may know of other
suitable services. It is also worth asking other parents at support
groups what childcare services they use.
If you are struggling to find childcare locally, your local
authority is required to help. Local information services must
provide parents with disabled children with details on the full
range of childcare available, as well as other help including
family support and relevant local and national voluntary
organizations and health services.
Under the Childcare Act 2006 local authorities in England and
Wales must ensure that they take all reasonable steps to ensure
that there is appropriate childcare in the area, including
childcare for disabled children.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 local authorities in
England must also include sources of information and advice about
childcare for disabled children in their
local offer [PDF].
Our SENDirect service-listing
website has a childcare
section, where you can search for childminders, daycare and
emergency childcare services.