WHAT do we mean by ‘childcare’

This is a guide for parents and carers who are thinking about childcare for their children, to support their child’s development and opportunities to play, learn and grow with their peers, and to look after the children when they are in work or training. Childcare refers to the services provided by daycare nurseries, before and after school clubs, playgroups, and childminders, without the parent or carer present, and, apart from Flying Start childcare, charges a fee for the care provided.

This guide does not cover activities where the parent or carer stays with the child, such as Parent and Toddler groups, or commercial soft play settings. It also does not cover after school activities provided by schools, sports and leisure activities for children and young people.

For children:
High quality childcare “supports the healthy development of children1”, and provides “a positive influence on your child’s social, emotional, and intellectual development2”.

For parents/carers:
Childcare allows parents/carers to work or take advantage of training opportunities, knowing their children are being well cared for. It helps with work-life balance and by supporting parents/carers to work, can help increase family income. Parents/carers can take on employment or work longer hours, creating wider benefits for family life. Childcare can also be used for respite purposes2

1: Social Care Wales: Early Years & Childcare Induction Framework for Wales Social Care Induction Framework for Wales
2: CWLWM: Choosing Childcare http://www.childcareinformation.wales/documents/Llyfryn_Choose_childcare.pdf

Childcare Types: Registered and Unregistered – Care Inspectorate Wales

Childcare for children under 12 years old, and which runs for more than 2 hours per day, or for more than 5 days per year, must, by law, be registered and inspected by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).

Non-registered childcare (under 2 hours per day, or less than 5 days per year) may still be high quality, but is NOT inspected, and a number of the financial assistance programmes CANNOT be claimed by parents/carers if they are using non-registered childcare.

•Demonstrates that children are cared for in a safe, secure and appropriate environment.

•Are more affordable as they offer access to help with childcare costs (e.g. Tax Free Childcare; the Childcare Offer for Wales; Universal Credit for Childcare), that cannot be used for non-registered childcare.

•Staff are suitably checked, qualified, and trained to support your child to thrive.

•Have adult to child ratios that make sure there are enough staff to care for the number of children attending.

•Have policies, procedures, and insurance in place to ensure that staff and children are cared for and are safe.

•Are inspected by CIW inspectors (Inspection Reports and more information and advice about choosing childcare can be found online at Home | Care Inspectorate Wales ). Parents can access the reports from settings they may be interested in attending. Childcare providers can also provide a copy of their Inspection Report

Childcare Types – Settings

Types of setting

•There are different types of childcare, which vary by:

· the ages of children they care for;

· the types of building they operate from;

· when they open;

· the language(s) they use (Welsh or English); etc.

As a parent or carer, you may already know, or at least have some idea of, the type of childcare you want for your child(ren), or you may want to know about all the childcare available in your area, in order to make a choice.

Description – Operates from home (domestic premises)

Children’s ages (typical) – 0 – 12, but sometimes older

Opening times and sessions – Flexible, dependent on demand. Can operate before school (breakfast); ‘wrap-around’ part time Early Years Education; after school, or full or part days for pre-school children and during holidays.

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual
(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – Tend to operate from purpose-built premises

Children’s ages (typical) – From birth. Many also operate playgroup sessions (2-3 year olds); wrap-around (3 – 4 year olds), with some also offering breakfast, after school and holiday care for school aged children

Opening times and sessions – Full day (7.00 am – 6.00 pm) with full day, half day and ‘sessional’ (2 – 2.5 hour) provision for 2 -3 and 3 – 4 year olds. Breakfast (7.00 -9.00) and after school (3.00 -3.30 to 6.00 pm) and full day holiday for school aged children

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – May be on school sites, but many operate from shared premises (church halls, Scout huts, etc.)

Children’s ages (typical) – 2 – 3 year olds for pre-school sessions; 3-4 year olds for ‘wrap-around’ care

Opening times and sessions – Maybe one short session per day (e.g. 9 – 11.30), or two sessions with a break between. Where registered as ‘full daycare’ and there is a cross-over of children at lunchtime, children do not stay for more than one session per day (morning or afternoon)

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – May be on school sites, but many operate from shared premises (church halls, Scout huts, etc.)

Children’s ages (typical) – 2 – 3 year olds for pre-school sessions; 3-4 year olds for ‘wrap-around’ care

Opening times and sessions – Maybe one short session per day (e.g. 9 – 11.30), or two sessions with a break between. Where registered as ‘full daycare’ and there is a cross-over of children at lunchtime, children do not stay for more than one session per day (morning or afternoon)

Language(s)* – Welsh

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – Often, though not always, on school sites, unless a service provided at a full daycare nursery, then on their premises.

Children’s ages (typical) – 4 – 12 (attending full time school – Reception onwards)

Opening times and sessions – Usually after school (3.00-3.30 – 6.00pm); with some breakfast provision (NB: explain Free Breakfast Initiative). Some setting provide holiday care

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – Provide childcare in parents/carers own home. Usually not registered by CIW, but can join voluntary scheme The Approval of Home Childcare Providers (Wales) Scheme 2021 | Care Inspectorate Wales which allows parents to access financial support with childcare costs.

Children’s ages (typical) – Usually younger children, but can include school age

Opening times and sessions – As required by parents/carers

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – Crèches provide childcare to children from as young as six weeks and upwards. They are different to day care as they can offer temporary childcare for parents to attend specific events such as training, learning or even exercise classes e.g. in a crèche, children are cared for while their parents or carers do something else on the same premises.

Children’s ages (typical) – Usually younger children but can include school age.

Opening times and sessions – Alongside training or other class or event

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

Description – Although Open Access Play may be registered with CIW, as children are free to leave whenever they like (as opposed to being collected by a parent at the end of a session), we would NOT recommend this provision being used as childcare.

Children’s ages (typical) – School aged 4 and above

Opening times and sessions – Usually only during school holidays

Language(s)* – Welsh, English, bilingual

(*Some settings may also have staff who can speak, understand and use other community languages)

A variety of ‘stay and play’, Parent and Toddler/Ti a FI, and other activities are available, but as these require the parent/carer to stay with and remain responsible for the child, there cannot be classed as ‘childcare’. Many schools offer ‘after school activity clubs’ – football, French, coding, etc., – but each of these usually only operate one night per week, and usually only for an hour or so. May be used by parents, but not strictly speaking childcare

What do you want or need from your childcare?

The following questions may help you think about what the most important things for you and your child are when choosing a childcare provider

What type of childcare setting. This will be shaped by the age(s) of your child(ren) and, for example, if you are using other services e.g., do they need to be picked up from school?

Do you have a preference for the language (Welsh or English) used in the setting?* Are you aware of the benefits of bilingualism? Benefits of Welsh-Medium Education (cardiff.gov.uk)

Have you thought about location? Are you looking near your child’s school, your home or your workplace?

Timing – does their preferred provider cover all your working hours?

Cost – do you know the likely cost? Are you aware of any financial support you could access?

We understand the above are inter-linked, and may by going through the questions above, you will already be ruling out many childcare settings as they will be in the wrong place, or the wrong time, or for the wrong age of child. You will also need to find a childcare setting that has a vacancy matching your needs e.g. it is no use if you need 5 days per week, but a setting only has 3 days with vacancies.

Once you have a shortlist of potential childcare settings, there are a number of questions that parents/carers are advised to ask. More information can be found in this section: WHICH questions should you ask a potential childcare provider (LINK) which also includes some ideas around questions to ask if your child has an additional need or disability.

WHERE to find information about finding childcare

There are a number of sources of information about local childcare settings we recommend.

This is the national database, supported by the Welsh Government, for parents/carers and professionals.

It contains the records of childcare providers with a current published record on Dewis, who have given their permission for their record to be available to the public. This means some providers may not have a visible record because:

  • They do not have a Dewis record, or it has not been kept it up to date
  • They have not given permission for their record to be available to the public


  • Type “Childcare Information Wales” into your search engine • Go to Gwybodaeth Gofal Plant Cymru – Child Care Information Wales
  • Select ‘Cardiff’ from the drop down list
  • Select a type of childcare. Multiple searches by different childcare types may be needed.
  • The ‘Location’, ‘Language’ and ‘School and other pick ups’ filters can be very useful for narrowing down possible settings
  • Not all settings are on the Childcare Information Wales website. Only settings who have maintained an up-to-date record* are on ChildcareInfoWales.
  • Currently the system does not produce a printout of the result, but you can take a screenshot and print, if you have a printer, or screenshot and save on your phone, tablet or laptop.
  • NB: There is only limited vacancy data and we always advise parents/carers to contact, and ideally visit, potential childcare settings.

* Childcare settings are required confirm their record is up-to-date every six months to keep their details available on the database. This is to make sure all details are current.

Cardiff Family Advice and Support offers a range of information, advice and assistance for children, young people and their families in Cardiff.

The Family Gateway is a contact point for any professional, parent, child or young person to get the information, advice and assistance you need in Cardiff.

The Family Gateway Contact Officers are available to listen to your situation, identify what support is best for you and can help you access it.

The Family Gateway team can help you find support services including money advice, housing, welfare benefits, child behaviour, childcare, school attendance, health and well-being, parental support and much more.

If you haven’t been able to find a suitable setting , or you need additional support, please ring The Family Gateway on 03000 133 133. NB: CFAS will only be able to provide childcare details that are currently published on www.childcareinformation.wales

Required information:

  • The geographical area childcare is required in
  • The age(s) of child(ren)
  • Language of provision (Welsh, English, bilingual)
  • Duration of childcare (half day, full day and number of days per week)
  • Preference of childcare type if you one

CFAS will provide you with a list verbally, and/or via email or post. This will allow you to contact the settings you may possibly use.

There are a number of commercial sites which hold lists of childcare providers; some advertise on Facebook and other social media platforms; and we are aware parents speak to other in a variety of way; face-to-face, online via platforms such as NetMums, and via other local networks.

Whilst we recognise this may be the ‘usual’ way parents access information, we would advise also using one of the more ‘official’ sources to ensure parents are accessing information provided and updated by the setting themselves, as this should ensure the information is accurate.

HOW to find out about help paying for childcare

As there are a range of financial assistance for childcare costs, it can be somewhat challenging to navigate. This section of the guide aims to help you find the most suitable form of assistance.

There are two types of support – financial assistance with costs that are paid for by parents, and funded places. We will look at the assistance for parental fees first.

NB: This is UK wide website, so please make sure you select Wales under the “You are living in:…” drop down box in the Find The Right Offer For You section (below).


· Type “Childcare Choices” into your search engine · Go to Childcare Choices | 30 Hours Free Childcare, Tax-Free Childcare and More | Help with Costs | GOV.UK

· You can now select the relevant description of your current circumstances from the drop down list under the You Are section, which opens up a question about your child’s details. Once entered, the website will show you which schemes may be available to you, as well as those which are unavailable based on the information you gave.

This tool WILL highlight if you may be eligible for:

Tax-Free Childcare (working families, earning above £152 per week but below £100,000 per year each). Tax Free Childcare could be worth up to £2,000 per child per year. Your childcare setting will need to be signed up to provide Tax Free Childcare. If they are not, we suggest you ask why not, and show them this link: Sign up to Tax-Free Childcare if you’re a childcare provider – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Universal Credit for Childcare. You may be able to claim up to 85 per cent of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit and meet some additional conditions. The amounts you can receive in childcare costs are:

· a maximum of £951 per month for one child

· a maximum of £1630 per month for 2 or more children

Working parents on Universal Credit are now able to receive further financial help with their childcare costs. Eligible parents claiming Universal Credit are also able to get help with their childcare upfront, so that they can more easily pay their next set of costs. Parents who are moving into work or increasing their working hours should speak to their Universal Credit work coach who can provide more information. You must be in paid work to receive childcare support from Universal Credit.

If you are a claiming with a partner both of you normally need to be in work to receive this help. However, you may be able to get childcare support if one of you is not working and is unable to provide childcare themselves because they:

· have limited capability for work

· have caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person

· are temporarily absent from the household Understanding Universal Credit – Children and childcare

The Childcare Offer for Wales. If both parents in a two parent family* are working and earning above £152 per week but below £100K per year each, or on Higher or Further Education course, and have a child aged 3-4 they may be eligible for the Childcare Offer for Wales (‘the Offer’). In Cardiff it provides up to 17.5 hours per week of funded childcare during term-time, which along with 12.5 hours of funded early education offers 30 hours per week in term time. For 9 of the 13 school holiday weeks, up to 30 hours of funded childcare can be provided. Four holiday weeks per academic year are not funded.

NB: Parents/carers are charged for food and refreshments, and costs related to children being picked up from or dropped off at school.

*Both parents need to meet the criteria in a two parent family; lone parents must also be employed, self-employed, or on a relevant course to qualify for the funding. Welsh Government webpage: Childcare Offer for Wales | Help With Childcare Costs Wales | GOV.WALES Cardiff Council webpage: The Childcare Offer for Wales (cardiff.gov.uk)

BUT Childcare Choices does not include details of the Welsh Government’s funded childcare for 2 to 3 year olds, funded via Flying Start

This is the only geographical-based scheme with funded places

All families with a 2-3 year old child resident in identified areas are eligible for the childcare provision. There are no employment/income requirements

Flying Start childcare consists of 2.5 hours funded childcare per day, 5 days per week, term time only. It is only delivered from settings designated as Flying Start providers. Eligible postcodes can be checked here: Welcome to Cardiff Flying Start – Flying Start Cardiff

Financial assistance with childcare costs– criteria and limitations

· Working parents only.

· Setting needs to be signed up (not all are).

· Can’t be used alongside Tax Credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers

· Working parents claiming Universal Credit only.

· Can’t be used alongside Tax credits, Tax-Free Childcare or childcare vouchers.

· Parents pay in advance and reclaim.

· Only for children aged 2 – 3, in designated geographical areas.

· Only settings contracted with Cardiff Council as Flying Start settings.

· May not meet needs of parents looking for full daycare.

· Only for children aged 3-4, with eligible parents.

· Only settings contracted with Cardiff Council as Childcare Offer providers.

WHICH questions should you ask a potential childcare provider

Pages 10-11 of the Choosing Childcare booklet contains a list of questions for parents to ask childcare providers: Llyfryn_Choose_childcare.pdf (childcareinformation.wales) Pages 10 -11

The CIW National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare set out what a childcare setting, and its staff, must do in order that “Children are safeguarded from harm, abuse and neglect and parents are confident that all possible steps to safeguard children are taken.”

Parents/carers may wish to ask a setting:

· Have staff and volunteers undertaken DBS checks? How recent were the checks?

· Who is your designated safeguarding lead (DSL)* and what training have they had? How recent was this training?

· What safeguarding training have staff had? When was this?

· May I have a copy of your child protection policy?

· My child has Additional Learning Needs and / or a disability (ALN). What steps will you take to accommodate this?

· My child needs help with using the toilet; changing; feeding; their medication, etc. How will these personal care needs be addressed?

· How are you securely storing the information you hold on my child? Who has access to it and are you giving it to anyone else?

* In some settings this person may be called the “named person” for child protection, a child protection officer or safeguarding lead.

Settings should be talking to parents/carers about safeguarding so that everyone is clear and knows what to expect. Parents/carers should not be surprised when a setting asks them to explain how their child got the bruise they arrived at the setting with; or when the setting questions them why their child does not appear to have suitable clothing for the weather conditions if the setting has been clear that it is their legal responsibility to be concerned for the welfare of the children in their care.

The Setting

· Do you get a warm welcome when you arrive?

· Is the setting child friendly?

· Is the outdoor space accessible? Is it free flow? Is it safe and secure?

· Do the children there seem happy and content?

· Are you able to meet other staff?

· Are they willing to show you around?

· Do the staff interact with your child?

· Are they comfortable around your child’s disability?

· What adaptations would they need to make for your child?

· Do they have any quiet/ sensory areas?

· Are there particular days/ times when the setting is quieter/ less busy so that the adult child ratio may be beneficial.

The Staff

· What experience do they have of working with disabled children or children with similar needs?

· Are they familiar with universal strategies such as visuals e.g. traffic lights, objects of reference, now and next etc.

· What relevant training do they have? e.g. Makaton, Sensory Processing, Attention Autism etc.

· Would they need more training to meet the needs of your child?

· What support do they offer children with physical disabilities and ALN?

· How would they ensure that your child has the same play and learning opportunities as other children?

· How would they approach your child’s disability with other children/parents if they have questions?

· How will they communicate with you about your child’s progress and needs?

To Consider

· Who is the named ALN Co-ordinator (ALNCo) – what experience / training do they have?

· Is the setting Inclusive, can my child safely access all the activities / be included in all trips / experiences?

· Read the latest Care Inspectorate Wales Inspection report carefully.

Childminders – as above but also consider:

· Is the environment accessible safe and secure– e.g., doors, windows, access to roads, enclosed outdoor area.

· Any ALN experience, resources, equipment, designated quiet/sensory areas.

· Are personal resources/ storage spaces inaccessible including outdoor sheds and garages.

Partnership working

· Is the setting prepared to engage with ALN professionals e.g., allow specialists to see the child in the setting (or home for a childminder) and attend Personal Care Plan meetings?

Useful Links

Information on types of childcare; questions for parents to ask of setting http://www.childcareinformation.wales/documents/Llyfryn_Choose_childcare.pdf

Information and FAQs regarding benefits of Welsh medium education /bilingualism Benefits of Welsh-Medium Education (cardiff.gov.uk)

Searchable database of published childcare provider details (location, language, times of opening, cost, etc.) Gwybodaeth Gofal Plant Cymru – Child Care Information Wales

Database of financial assistance with childcare costs Childcare Choices