What quality looks like

If your childcarer is a member of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, you can be sure that they’ve made a commitment to their professionalism and the quality of childcare they provide.

Membership of PACEY involves signing up to a set of professional standards, helping members demonstrate their ongoing commitment to their career and their professional development. Members commit to undertaking at least 15 hours of continuous professional development per year as well.

Registered childminders, childminding assistants, registered and non-registered nannies and nursery workers are all able to join PACEY, and all benefit from a wide ranging offer, including free training, practice guides, factsheets and policy briefings to help them develop as childcare professionals.

What is high quality care?

Studies have shown that for babies and young children to benefit from childcare, it needs to be of high quality. But how do you identify quality care? Here are a few things to look out for...

Inspection reports

All nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare providers in England and Wales are regularly inspected to make sure they ensure children's wellbeing and support their development. It may be helpful to read childcare inspection reports, but always get local parents' opinions and see the setting for yourself too. Ask childcarers whether you think their latest inspection report is a fair reflection of their service, and how they are implementing any recommendations.

Find inspection reports online:

England - www.reports.ofsted.gov.uk

Wales - www.cssiw.org.uk (NB Inspection reports for childminders in Wales are available from your local CSSIW office.)

Qualifications

Better qualified childcarers deliver better quality care, so ask childcare providers about the training they've done and their plans for ongoing professional development. Ideally, childcare professionals who work unsupervised - such as nursery leaders, childminders and nannies - should have at least a level 3 early years qualification.

Strong bonds

Babies and toddlers need to be able to form a secure bond with their carer and have plenty of focused attention, so look for a childcarer who's warm and affectionate and readily available to meet their needs.

Other signs of high quality care include:

  • a safe, hygienic environment
  • plenty of of good quality toys, equipment and resources and lots of opportunities for play and learning, inside and out
  • structured days and an organised, well managed setting 
  • nutritious food and enjoyable, sociable mealtimes
  • positive interactions - plenty of praise, encouragement and laughter
  • parents fully involved and consulted in their children's care.