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What is registered and unregistered childcare?

Registered childcare

A registered childcare provider is someone who is registered with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) to look after children under the age of 8. They would have been inspected by Ofsted to make sure they meet the required standards which includes undergoing a Disclosure and Barring Service(DBS) check to ensure they have no previous criminal convictions that prohibit them from working with children and vulnerable people. The premises in which they work from are also regularly inspected to ensure they are suitable and safe. 

Examples of registered childcare providers are:

  • Childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • Preschool playgroups
  • Before, after school and holiday playschemes
  • Childminder Agencies

Unregistered childcare

This is more informal than registered childcare and could include family and friends who look after your child or care for your child with you whilst you are present, such as parent and toddler groups

Not all childcare has to be registered with Ofsted, though some may choose to apply for Ofsted's Voluntary Childcare Register, such as a nanny. Examples of childcare providers who may choose to register with Ofsted are: 

  • Babysitters
  • Nannies* and au pairs, caring for a child or children in the child's own home.
  • Home educators and home tutors.
  • Blood relatives caring for a child or children they are related to.
  • Recreational and sporting activity providers.

 Childcare, service and activity providers do not have to register with Ofsted if:

  • the children are aged eight and over
  • the childcare only takes place between 6pm and 2am
  • it takes place fewer than two hours a day, or 14 days a year
  • it takes place in the parents' home
  • no payment or reward is received for the services

All childcare providers listed in this directory are registered and subject to Ofsted inspections

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

The government provides free early learning to 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

Eligible 2 year olds are entitled to free childcare and early learning. This depends on your family income or the child’s circumstances. Read more….

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to childcare and early education.  This entitlement is up to 15 hours at a registered childcare provider. Read more…..

30 hours extended entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds eligible working families are able to get an additional 15 hours of free childcare and early education. Read more....

Help paying for childcare

You can get help paying for childcare as long as your childcare provider is registered*

Support schemes currently available (dependent on eligibility) are

  • 15 hours of free childcare for eligible 2 year olds
  • 15 hours of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds
  • 30 hours of free childcare for eligible 3 and 4 year olds
  • Tax free childcare
  • Tax credits for childcare
  • Universal credit for childcare
  • Childcare vouchers - closed to applicants
  • Support while you study

If you are unsure about which option/s to go with towards your childcare costs as some are not available in conjunction with others, you can use the government's Childcare Choices website and Childcare Calculator to find out more and compare which ones you are better off applying for.

*The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under 8 for a period of more than two hours at a time to register with Ofsted.

Childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities

When it comes to choosing childcare and early education for a child with special educational needs or a disability, a lot of the considerations are the same as for any other child, however, there are a few extra things you may need to consider such as a child’s medical needs or a childcare provider who has had specialist training.

All childcare providers will have a SEND policy and should make reasonable adjustments to care for a child or young person with SEND.

Find out more on the Hounslow Local Offer. 

Struggling to find the right childcare?

If you have not been able to find what you are looking for in our childcare section or have been unable to secure suitable childcare to meet your needs, please contact us by clicking on the feedback button or emailing

We only list childcare providers within the London Borough of Hounslow.  Every Local Authority offers a similar service so if you are looking for childcare in a neighbouring authority closer to work click here to find your local Family Information Service.

More information

Childcare registers - Anyone registering with Ofsted to look after children need to apply to be on one or more of these registers.

  • Early Years Register - to only look after children aged 5 and under
  • Childcare Register - to only look after children aged 5 to 7
  • both above registers to look after children of any age under 8
  • The voluntary part of the Childcare Register – optional to look after children aged 8 and above 

Anyone found to be providing childminding or daycare services without being registered can get an unlimited fine, be sent to prison, or both

Types of childcare - Families across the Borough have access to various types of childcare, many of which can offer flexibility to meet a families’ needs. The types of Childcare you choose will depend on many factors such as the age of your child, the hours that you are at work or studying, the cost and the location.

An explanation of each type of childcare and staff ratios is available here

The 2017 Childcare Sufficiency report - The Children and Families Act 2014 requires that a report be prepared annually for elected council members on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare.

Working in partnership with providers from the private, voluntary, independent and maintained sectors, Hounslow Council looks to create sufficient, sustainable and flexible childcare that meets the needs of parents. The report summarises the key priorities and gives an overview of the local childcare market as well as the demand for childcare in the borough. Read the report...

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