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How do I make the right choice?

You are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of your children.  It is important that you think carefully about the childcare provision that you choose for your child whether this is an Ofsted registered childminder or nursery/pre-school, or informal childcare such as a relative, friend or babysitter.  Ofsted registration is required for any person or organisation who cares for children under eight years for more than two hours per day.

When you leave your chld in the care of someone else you want them to be as well cared for and safe as they are with you.  Therefore, when choosing childcare take your time and visit a number of different childcare providers.  Always ask to see their Ofsted Registration Certificate which should be on display.  Talk to other parents.

For impartial information, advice and guidance on finding, choosing and using childcare and free early education, financial support, parenting and help to find out more about local services and support for children, young people and your family, telephone the Suffolk Families Information Service on 0845 60 800 33.

Free early years childcare provision

Free early years provision for two, three and four-year-olds is offered in Suffolk.  For children aged two there is a targeted service called the Two Year Old Scheme and for children aged three and four there is a universal service called Free Early Education Entitlement.

The Two Year Old Scheme funds eligible children from the term after their second birthday.  Children must meet a range of criteria to qualify and can access up to 15 hours of childcare in selected childcare settings.

All children from the term after their third birthday can access up to 15 hours of free flexible childcare in nurseries, pre-schools, accredited childminders, nursery schools and classes.  Both schemes operate for 38 weeks only (term time).  Talk to your chosen childcare provider on how they offer the free 15 hours as many offer it in different ways.  

For more details go to www.suffolk.gov.uk

Confused about childcare?

If you are confused about types of childcare, what's free and what you have to pay for, Suffolk County Council's Families Information Service (FIS) can help.

Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk or call Suffolk FIS on 0845 60 800 33.

Types of childcare

Nurseries offer childcare for children aged 0-5 often during the hours of 8am-6pm all year round.
Pre-schools offer childcare for children between two and five, often for three to four hours a day, term time only.
Out-of-school childcare offers childcare after school or during the school holidays.
Childminders care for children aged 0-7 (and above) in the childminder's own home.

All of the above childcare providers must be registered and inspected by Ofsted.  See www.ofsted.gov.uk for more details.

Nannies, au pairs and home child carers can provide care in the child's own home and may be registered on the Ofsted Voluntary part of the Childcare Register.
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