Day nurseries are usually privately run and provide care for children aged from six weeks to five years old. All must be registered and annually inspected by Early Years Team in your local Health and Social Care Trust.
What is a day nursery?
There are strict guidelines on the ratio of staff to children:
for under two year olds – one carer to three children
two to three year olds – one carer to four children
three to five year olds – one carer to eight children
Day nurseries are usually opened from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm all year round.
Those who are part of the Pre-school Education Expansion Programme have some funded places. These places are available:
at least two and a half hours per day
five days per week
at least 38 weeks during the period September to June
In day nurseries:
50 per cent of staff must have a childcare qualification
children have the chance to learn and play with friends
childcare is reliable – if one member of staff is ill, others are available to cover
some day nurseries offer school pick-ups and out of school care
eligible for help with costs through the Working Tax Credit
funded places may be available for children in their final pre-school year
part time places are often available.
Working Tax Credit (GOV.UK website)
However, many day nurseries are not flexible if you work shifts or weekends and there can be long waiting lists.
Early Years Teams
Things to check with day nurseries
do they have places for your child’s age group – some do not take children under the age of two
that they have a key worker carer system – babies in particular need to build up a relationship with one person
that the place is clean, bright and child-centred, with plenty of safe space to play inside and out
the children there should seem happy and relaxed and be well supervised at all times by staff who talk to them
Questions to ask day nurseries
what is the ratio of carers to children and what was the turnover of staff in the last year?
what are the routine activities? When and where are the sleep sessions?
will they take the children off the day nursery premises?
can they provide a special diet if required?
what is their policy on discipline?
is there an opportunity to talk to the carer at the beginning and end of each day?
can you see their most recent inspection report?