Contracts and agreements

Looking for information on contracts and agreements with your childcarer? We've cut through the confusion with a list of key areas to consider when working with your childcarer.

A well-written contract is essential and can help ensure that you and your childcare provider get your relationship off to the best start. Make time to carefully read the contract before you sign it, and ask for clarification if you're unsure of anything.


A deposit is a one-off payment to show your intention to take up a childcare place for your child. Each type of childcare setting will have their own process for deposits.

A deposit is usually refunded to you at the beginning of the arrangement by being deducted from the fees.

The deposit is not usually returned if you decide not to take up the place. This is because in holding the place for your child, the setting may have had to turn away other families.

However, if the setting can't for some reason take on your child as previously agreed, they should refund the deposit in full. Details of the deposit paid should be included on the contract.

Settling-in period

We always recommend that there is a two- to four-week settling-in period, and that this should be noted in a separate area of the contract. If the child is unusually unhappy during this period, the contract may be ended during the settling-in period without the usual notice required.


Nursery settings may operate all year round but it’s important to check when closures occur.

If you are using a childminder It's a good idea to agree with them how you plan to arrange your holidays at the beginning of the arrangement. You may find that your childminder has a set period of holiday which they make parents aware of at the start of each year. You will probably want a holiday yourself, during which time the childminding service isn't required.

Some registered childminders charge half fee for parents/guardians’ holidays and half fee for their own time off.

Some charge full fee during parents holidays, but nothing during their own time off.

Some charge full fee for both their own and parents time off but do their best to coordinate time off so that parents/guardians only pay for childcare once.

Some registered childminders and parents/guardians prefer to negotiate a childminding rate which includes an element for paid time off.

Your childminder is running their own business so no two may necessarily work in the same way. Make sure you discuss how holiday arrangements will work at the initial meeting.


In a nursery setting there are normally sufficient staff to cover illness, but it’s a good idea to check what the key person arrangements are if your child’s key person is unwell.

Many childminders work as part of a group or informal network to ensure they have a back up childminder that the child is familiar and comfortable with, in case of holidays, sickness or emergencies.

All settings should have a procedure for responding to children who are ill or infectious in which they outline how they will deal with a sick child. Usually, if your child becomes ill whilst in their care, they will contact you and ask you to come and collect your child.

Similarly, if your child has an infectious disease, such as measles, chicken pox or rubella or a sickness bug, you should keep them at home to minimise the spread of infection.

As part of the daily chat you have with your setting when you drop off your child, it’s always a good idea to tell them if your child has shown any signs of being unwell in the preceding 48 hours.

Permission forms

Each setting will have their own permission forms that you will be asked to read and sign.

If using a childminder they may give you a set of parental permission forms for you to complete at the beginning of the contract. These show that you have given your permission for your child to take part in certain activities, for example, going to a regular childminding drop in, or travelling in the childminder's car.

Policies and procedures

Nursery settings will have a set of written policies to share with you.

There is no specific requirement in the EYFS for registered childminders in England to display written policies and procedures, although PACEY recommends that childminders keep written copies of their policies and procedures to share with parents and inspectors.

Childminders in Wales must also make policies and procedures available to parents.