Registered and unregistered childcare
Registered childcare providers
Only registered childcare providers can charge for caring for children under the age of 8 for more than 2 hours a day away from the child's home. They are registered with Ofsted and inspected by them.
By using a registered childcare provider you may be able to get help with your childcare costs.
It's not compulsory to be registered with Ofsted if a childcare provider only cares for children over the age of 8, or they're a nanny providing care in the child's home. They can join the voluntary part of the Childcare Register. This means parents can claim Tax-Free Childcare and the childcare part of Tax Credits and Universal Credits.
A registered childcare provider must request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to make sure they have no previous criminal convictions that stop them from working with children and vulnerable people. They are regularly inspected to ensure they are providing a safe and suitable service.
Find out how to register as a childcare provider.
Unregistered childcare providers
This is a person or organisation that's not registered with Ofsted but provides some sort of childcare, usually to children aged 8 and over or from the child's own home. This includes nannies and people who provide activity-based care, like sports clubs.
These are some of the childcare providers that don't have to register:
- babysitters, when the care is between 6pm and 2am in the home
- nannies and au pairs, caring for a child or children in the child's own home
- home educators and home tutors
- blood relatives caring for a child or children they are related to
- recreational and sporting activity providers
- some under 8s crèches, of 4 hours or under with a parent present
- providing childcare for less than 2 hours per day
- providing childcare for a friend for up to 3 hours a day for reward
We recommend you talk to the unregistered childcare provider to make sure your child will be safe and happy there. You could ask:
- for references
- what checks they carry out
- if these checks apply to all their staff
- what safeguarding and first aid training they complete
- if the activities they do are stimulating and suitable for the age of your child
Find out more about help with the cost of childcare.
Search for childcare
Search our Family Information Directory to find childcare. You can filter by childcare option, Ofsted inspection result, funding and location.
Find more advice about childcare.
Can't find childcare?
Contact our Family Information Service outreach team if you're having difficulty finding childcare. Our advisors will go the extra mile to help you find the childcare that meets your family's needs.