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Guide to Childcare

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Part 7 of 7 in this guide.

Last updated: 10th May 2011

Glossary - Childcare

Childcare vouchers

Your employer gives you vouchers in return for a reduction in your pay - known as a 'salary sacrifice' – to pay towards childcare.

Compulsory school age

The term following your child’s 5th birthday.

Council for Awards in Children’s Care and Education (CACHE)

CACHE is the officially recognised Awarding Body for Early Years, Care and Education, and Playwork. Relevant qualifications awarded by CACHE include:

  • Certificate or Diploma in Childcare and Education (this covers working with children under 8, including those with special needs)
  • Level 3 Diploma in Home-based Childcare (created with the National Childminding Association, this course gives nannies the skills to develop children from birth to 16)
  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Early Years (this course covers good practice in a range of childcare settings)

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)] check

Searches criminal records and other sources, including the Police National Computer.

Early years education

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early years education for 38 weeks of the year. Learning takes place through play. Based on a 3 term school year, your child is entitled to start their early learning:

Your child's birthdayEarly learning can start
1 Apr and 31 Aug1 Sep following their 3rd birthday or the beginning of the autumn school term
1 Sep and 31 Dec1 Jan following their 3rd birthday or the beginning of the spring school term
1 Jan and 31 Mar1 Apr following their 3rd birthday or the beginning of the summer school term

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Focuses on the distinct needs of children from birth to five years old.

Extended services activities

Breakfast clubs, out of school clubs (including homework clubs) and childcare.

Families Information Service (FIS)

A free information service for parents and carers of children aged 0 to 19. They can give information and advice to help you find and choose childcare, and also help you find activities for your children locally.

Flexible working

Lets you ask your employer for a new working pattern to help you care for your child.

General Childcare Register

Administered by Ofsted, this is made up of 2 parts:

  • the compulsory part - for providers of childcare for children from the end of the EYFS to age 7
  • the voluntary part - for providers of care for children aged 8 and over

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted)

Independent inspector for children and learners in England.


Mother, father, adopter, legal guardian or foster parent.

Registered or approved childcare

Your childcare provider needs to be registered in one of the following ways:

  • registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register (EYR) if your child is under 5 years of age
  • registered on the Ofsted Compulsory part of General Childcare Register (GCR) if your child is aged 5 - 7
  • registered on the Ofsted Voluntary part of the General Childcare Register if your child is aged 8 or over

If your provider is registered with Ofsted you will need to check with them that they are on the correct register before claiming tax credits for childcare costs.

You can't usually claim tax credits for childcare provided by relatives even if they're registered or approved.

Sure Start Children's Centres

Provide many services for families, including:

  • early years education for children
  • full day care
  • short-term care
  • health and family support
  • parenting advice
  • training and employment advice

You can get professional advice on health and family matters, learn about training and job opportunities or just socialise with other people.

Services available depend on where you live. You can usually:

  • see a dentist, dietician or physiotherapist
  • visit the ‘stop smoking’ clinic
  • get faster access to expert advice, support and short-term breaks if your child has learning difficulties or disabilities
  • talk to Citizens Advice
  • take parenting classes improve your English if it is not your first language - with someone from your own culture

Tax credits

You can get help with the costs of childcare provided through extended services via the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit.

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Part 7 of 7 in this guide


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