Safe Parenting Handbook >> Childcare and private fostering

"Evan is 7, and I was very careful to visit and discuss his needs at the after-school club. It now means I can work a full day knowing his needs are being met and he is in a safe environment. He has made lots of new friends not just other kids but members of staff too. I can replax and get on with what I need to do.. life is so much easier."

  • All registered childcare in Wales must meet national standards set down by the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSIW)
  • The Children's Information Service holds information on registered child care services, leisure and family services
  • Talk to other parents. Personal recommendations are helpful, but you should take up at least two references

How do I make the right choice?

As a parent, you are usually the best judge of whether a childcare service will suit your child.

When you leave your child in the are of others, you might want to check that:

  • Their needs are being met and respected.
  • Their cultural background is recognised.
  • They will be happy there.
  • The atmosphere feels right.
  • There is an agreeable settling arrangement.
  • A stable group of children attends so your children can make friends.
  • Mealtimes are relaxed and fun.
  • The outside area is well planned and spacious.
  • There is plenty of opportunity for your child to engage in varied and carefully planned activities.
You will want to ensure that your child is left in secure premises and that well trained and experienced staff are caring for your child. You will also want the opportunity to get involved and know about what your child is doing day to day.

What types of childcare are available?
The main types of childcare for the under 8s are: childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, out-of-school clubs and family centres.

Childminders are registered professional daycarers who work in their own homes to provide care and learning opportunities for other people's children in a family setting.

Day nurseries look after the under 5s for the length of the adult working day. Social Services, voluntary organisations, private companies, individuals, business or community groups might run them. They are registered and inspected by CSIW.

Playgroups provide sessional care for children aged between 2 and 5. Sessions usually last longer than four hours. Most of them are run by voluntary management committees with qualified staff. They are registered and inspected by CSIW.

Out-of-school clubs, or kids clubs, provde sessional play and care for school-aged children from 3 upwards. There are breakfast clubs that open before school, after-school clubs that open after school and holiday playschemes that open during school holidays. Out of School clubs are inspected by CSIW once a year.

There are also informal parents and toddler groups - drop in sessions for children and their parents. As parents stay with their children, these groups do not have to be inspected. Ask your Children's Information Service, local library, check out local newspapers, notice boards or local information centres.

Private fostering is very different from the care provided by local councils through approved foster carers. It occurs when a child under 16 is cared for for more than 28 days by an adult who is not a close relative, by private arrangement between parent and the carer. If you are thinking about placing your child with a private foste carer, or becoming a foster carer, the first thing you must do is contact your local social services area office. Social Services are required by law to approve such arrangements. The prospective foster carer will need as much information as possible about your child (including medical history) and Social Services can give you a form to help with this. As the birth parents, you retain full parental responsibility. You must remain in touch with the private foster carer and participate in all decision-making processes concerning your child's life.

Warning Signs
What to say
Sometimes, children are not always able to tell you if something is wrong so note changes in their moods, behaviour and physical appearances. If you have any concerns about the care your child is receiving, speak promptly to the person in charge. If you have serious concerns about your child's safety, remove your child immediately and contact your local social services department. You should also ring the CSIW complaint line to let them know what you have done. Tell your children who will be looking after them, where they are going, how long for and whom they need to ask for their daily needs. Find out about what a typical day or session consists of. Be prepared and ask plenty of questions. Take up references from others who have used a particular childcare service. Look for trained and experienced staff. Visit the facilities and look for busy and relaxed children who seem happy and purposeful. Check how you will be informed about your child's progress and in case of emergency. From an early age talk to your child about their routine and encourage them to continue to tell you about their day when they are in school. Social Services Blaenau Gwent 01495 355794

Day Care Trust 020 7840 3350

Care Standards Inspectorate For Wales 01495 766500

Blaenau Gwent Local Safeguarding Children's Board, Heart of the Valleys Children's Centre, Old Blaina Infant School,
High Street, Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, NP13 3BN - Tel: 01495 355584