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Visiting providers

21 December 2016

Once you have made a shortlist of preferred providers, it is advisable that you visit them and ask questions about the care provided. You may visit several providers or return for more than one visit before you make your decision.

  • Always arrange a visit at a time when the children will be present, when things are in full swing.
  • Go back for a second viewing and take your child with you to see how they get on with the other children and staff, and how they feel in the surroundings.
  • Ask other people who have used the setting about their experience. The setting may be able to provide you with references or names of people who would be happy to speak to you.
  • Aim to visit at least two or three settings to compare what is on offer.
    Things to look out for
  • Is the setting welcoming and friendly?
  • Is there enough room for your child to be active indoors and out?
  • How is the setting arranged? Is there a quiet area and room for messy play etc.?
  • Is it safe, clean and secure?
  • Do you see staff listening, talking and interacting appropriately with the children and with each other?
  • Do the staff welcome your questions?
  • Are they enthusiastic about your child attending their setting?
  • Do they appear to value your knowledge of your child?
  • How interested are the children in the activities and equipment available?

Questions you could ask


  • Do you offer free childcare and early education places for two / three and four year olds?
  • What are your opening hours and holiday dates?
  • What happens if my child arrives late?
  • Do you accept same-day bookings? If so, is there a cut off time / additional charges?
  • How many children do you look after at any one time?
  • Can children move freely around the setting?
  • What is the adult to child ratio?
  • Can children choose their own activities?
  • How will you keep me informed about my child's progress?
  • What qualifications and experience does your staff group have?
  • How will my child’s individual needs be met?
  • How does the key person system work in this setting?
  • What is your ethos and your aspiration for children that attend?
  • What can I do to support my child's development and learning?
  • How will you know about and respond to my child's interests