Q: I am currently looking into daycare for my daughter and have narrowed my choices down to a childminder or nursery. The trouble is I just don't know which one is the better option. And how do I know if they are trustworthy?
A: Choosing childcare is a big decision and everyone has their own opinion as to which is the best. To be truthful, there is no better option - both bring their own specific range of benefits.
For example, a good childminder will provide a 'home from home' atmosphere. Because the childminder can only look after a maximum of six children at any one time (of which only three can be under five), it is also a small and familiar environment. A good childminder should also take your daughter out and about to classes and groups.
On the other hand, a nursery is a much larger facility and will be in a position to provide a greater range of on-site equipment and activities. Additionally, most nurseries now offer extra classes such as music, sport and languages. The ratio of staff to children is one nursery nurse to every three children under the age of two, with the ratios increasing as the children become older.
Obviously both options bring elements that you may be concerned about. For example, if your childminder is ill or plans to go on holiday, you may find yourself without childcare if she cannot provide you with an alternative. While nurseries offer plenty of staff to cover illness and holidays, they can also have high staff turnovers, meaning that your daughter could experience an ongoing range of different faces.
Checking the credentials of a childminder or nursery is easily done as your provider will have to be registered with the government regulator, Ofsted (which stands for the Office for Standards in Education).
An Ofsted inspector will regularly assess the care, facilities and activities on offer and put these findings into an official Ofsted report. The provider will be scored in this report as either outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. Your provider should give you a copy of their report, or you can ask for their Ofsted registration number and view it online.
Visit as many as you can and you will probably find that you'll know the right one when you see it - but do act quickly as waiting lists can be long.
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