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Nurseries, Preschools and Childminder settings are wonderful places for children to learn and have fun with friends, which supports their development and their overall wellbeing. Attending childcare can be an exciting and joyful experience for children and can also help provide a routine as they develop their social skills. Early years education is an important stage for children where they can flourish and get the best start in life. 

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The legislation underpinning lockdown restrictions has been published, and guidance has been updated to confirm that early years settings and childminders can remain open, and parents can continue to use these settings as normal.

Parents will be able to access other childcare activities (including wraparound care and some out of school settings) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers.

If you need any help to find a childcare place please contact the Family Information Service on 020 8583 3470.  Alternatively you can email them at

What is registered and unregistered childcare?

Registered childcare

A registered childcare provider is someone who is registered with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) to look after children under the age of 8. They would have been inspected by Ofsted to make sure they meet the required standards which includes undergoing a Disclosure and Barring Service(DBS) check to ensure they have no previous criminal convictions that prohibit them from working with children and vulnerable people. The premises in which they work from are also regularly inspected to ensure they are suitable and safe. 

Examples of registered childcare providers are:

  • Childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • Preschool playgroups
  • Before, after school and holiday playschemes
  • Childminder Agencies

Unregistered childcare

This is more informal than registered childcare and could include family and friends who look after your child or care for your child with you whilst you are present, such as parent and toddler groups

Not all childcare has to be registered with Ofsted, though some may choose to apply for Ofsted's Voluntary Childcare Register, such as a nanny. Examples of childcare providers who may choose to register with Ofsted are: 

  • Babysitters
  • Nannies* and au pairs, caring for a child or children in the child's own home.
  • Home educators and home tutors.
  • Blood relatives caring for a child or children they are related to.
  • Recreational and sporting activity providers.

 Childcare, service and activity providers do not have to register with Ofsted if:

  • the children are aged eight and over
  • the childcare only takes place between 6pm and 2am
  • it takes place fewer than two hours a day, or 14 days a year
  • it takes place in the parents' home
  • no payment or reward is received for the services

All childcare providers listed in this directory are registered and subject to Ofsted inspections

The different childcare registers

Anyone registering with Ofsted to look after children need to apply to be on one or more of these registers.

  • Early Years Register - to only look after children aged 5 and under
  • Childcare Register - to only look after children aged 5 to 7
  • both above registers to look after children of any age under 8
  • The voluntary part of the Childcare Register – optional to look after children aged 8 and above

Anyone found to be providing childminding or daycare services without being registered can get an unlimited fine, be sent to prison, or both

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

The government provides free early learning to 2, 3 and 4 year olds as outlined below

2 year olds

  • Families either working or not working and receiving certain benefits
  • 15 hours of free childcare and early education for 38 weeks
  • A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
  • Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week   

To find out more, visit:

3 or 4 year olds (15 hours)

  • All families in England with 3 and 4 year old children
  • 15 hours of free childcare and early education for 38 weeks
  • A total of 570 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider
  • Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week 

To find out more, visit:

3 or 4 year olds (30 hours)

  • Working families in England with 3 and 4 year old children
  • 30 hours of funded childcare and early education for 38 weeks
  • A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more
    childcare provider
  • Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week

To find out more, visit:

Help paying for childcare

You can get help paying for childcare as long as your childcare provider is registered*

Support schemes currently available (dependent on eligibility) are

15 hours of free childcare for eligible 2 year olds

15 hours of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds

30 hours of funded childcare for eligible 3 and 4 year olds 

Working parents or carers who are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare but have temporarily fallen below the minimum income requirement as a result of the pandemic will continue to receive financial support until 31 October 2020.

Critical workers who may exceed the income threshold for the 2020 to 2021 tax year as a result of working more to play a vital role in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will continue to receive support this tax year.

Tax free childcare 

Want to find out if you’re eligible and apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours childcare? Watch this video for step- by-step guidance on what you need to apply 

Tax credits and childcare

Universal credit and childcare

If you are unsure about which option to go with towards your childcare costs as some are not available in conjunction with others, you can use the government's Childcare Choices website and Childcare Calculator to find out more and compare which ones you are better off applying for.

Help to pay for childcare while you study

You could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you're under 20.

You can apply for Discretionary Learner Support

You can apply for a Childcare Grant if you're in full-time higher education

*The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under 8 for a period of more than two hours at a time to register with Ofsted

Childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities

When it comes to choosing childcare and early education for a child with special educational needs or a disability, a lot of the considerations are the same as for any other child, however, there are a few extra things you may need to consider such as a child’s medical needs or a childcare provider who has had specialist training.

All childcare providers will have a SEND policy and should make reasonable adjustments to care for a child or young person with SEND.

Find out more on the Hounslow Local Offer

You are able to receive funded childcare for your 2 year old child if they:

  • have a current statement of Special Educational Needs
  • have an Education, Health and Care plan
  • receives Disability Living Allowance

Please call the Early Years and Childcare Team on 020 8583 6421

We can support you in finding childcare if you are having difficulty.

If your child starts in a day nursery or preschool, they may be able to get extra support from the Early Years SEN team.

Childcare information in other languages