How to find childcare and what to consider when choosing a provider

Find a local childcare provider 

You can search a range of childcare settings in Bristol on the Family Information Service.

What to consider when looking for childcare

When looking for childcare:

  • start researching as soon as you can, most providers have waiting lists
  • ask other parents for recommendations
  • visit at least two or three providers to compare what's on offer

Visiting providers

When you visit a provider, consider the following.

Wellbeing, learning and development

  • are the children calm, happy and playing together
  • how does the provider support children's learning and meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • how are the children involved in planning activities
  • how will any additional or special educational needs be met
  • how do they settle a child in
  • what is the childcare provider's policy on managing children's behaviour
  • how do they manage toilet training
  • what is a typical day or week like
  • will your child meet the same children and adults every time they visit


  • are the premises clean, well-kept and safe for children
  • does it have a friendly feel
  • are there places the children can rest
  • is there a fun, outside play area or will children go to parks and other outside places regularly
  • are there plenty of safe, clean toys and equipment for the children to use


  • is the provider Ofsted registered, what is their Ofsted rating
  • do they have Public Liability Insurance
  • have they completed a risk assessment
  • are all staff DBS checked
  • are the premises secure, so that strangers can't get in
  • what happens in an emergency
  • how are the children kept safe when on a trip


  • are the staff friendly and welcoming
  • what qualifications and experience do they have
  • is there any ongoing training
  • do staff have a Paediatric First Aid qualification
  • are the staff listening to children and answering them appropriately
  • how long has the provider been open
  • is the provider working to the Bristol Standard, a framework which helps providers improve and maintain standards
  • is the provider (childminders only) a member of the Bristol Childminding Network, a network for those who meet our quality approval standards

Practical details

  • what are their opening hours
  • what is the cost, per hour, session, day, week, month
  • what happens if your child is sick
  • what happens when you go on holiday
  • what happens on bank holidays
  • what happens if you're late picking up your child
  • what's included in the fee, for example, food, nappies, wipes
  • is there a deposit or registration fee and how much is it
  • how many children does each member of staff care for
  • what type of food or snacks will your child be given

Parent involvement

  • can the parents say what they want for their child
  • how does the provider keep in touch with parents or report on a child's progress, is a daily diary used for example

If you can't find childcare to suit your needs, contact the Family Information Service at or 0117 357 4192.