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Funded childcare for two-year-olds

How do I choose a provider?

We have a directory of school pre-schools, private nurseries and pre-schools and registered childminders in St Helens that are registered to deliver the two-year-old free early education places.

You can download the directory (PDF) [196KB] (opens new window) .

What to look for when choosing a childcare provider and some questions to ask

Opening times and availability

  • What are the opening times?
  • How many weeks of the year are they open?
  • Are they closed at any specific times of the year?
  • Do they offer any flexible care (i.e. weekends, evenings, emergencies)?
  • Is there a waiting list, if so, how long would you have to wait for a place?

The environment

  • Is there outside space available for play and learning?
  • Are there separate areas for different kinds of play - water play, sand, messy play, role-play?
  •  Is there a separate area for quiet time - story time, puzzles, sleeping?
  • How many children will be in your child's room / class?
  • Is the setting safe and secure?
  •  Does it look clean and cheerful? - Look for examples of other children's work on display

Your child's development

  • What is the normal staff to child ratio?
  •  Are the children well supervised?
  • What qualifications do staff hold?
  • Will your child have a Key Worker? If yes, when can you meet them?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring your child's development?
  • Will you get regular feedback?
  • Will you get a daily record of what your child has done / eaten?
  • What learning and developmental activities will your child take part in?

Costs

  • Does your setting make any additional charges surrounding the two-year-old offer?
  • Can I bring my own packed lunch and nappies, creams, etc to avoid the extra cost?
  • Are there additional charges for my child to take part in trips?
  • Does my child need to attend a minimum number of sessions per week?

Disabilities and SEN

  • What experience do the staff have of caring for children with disabilities and SEN?
  • How would they adapt activities for your child?
  • Is the building fully accessible?
  • When can you meet your child's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)?

Policies and procedures

If you want more information, ask to see their policies on:

  • Sending children home because of sickness and other conditions
  • Giving medication / dealing with allergies
  • Toilet training
  • People other than the main carer picking up the child
  • Late collection and non-attendance
  • Safeguarding
  • Photography
  • Sun care
  • Complaints
  • Managing children's emotional wellbeing
  • Bullying

Government funding is intended to cover the cost to deliver 15 hours a week of, high quality, flexible early education, it is not intended to cover the cost of meals, consumables, additional hours or additional services.

You may be asked to pay for meals, snacks and consumables if your child is accessing hours whereby meals are included.

It is important that you secure the hours that are right for you and your child; some childcare providers will just offer the funded hours with no additional charges so please ask the relevant questions before you sign up for a place.