Registered childcare

Do all childcare providers have to be Ofsted registered?

It is a legal requirement for all individuals and organisations to register with Ofsted or a childminder agency if they want to be paid to look after children under 8 for more than 2 hours a day in England - unless one of the exemptions apply. Providers can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison or both if they provide childminding or daycare services without being registered.

There are 2 registers.

  • the Early Years Register (EYR) to look after children aged 5 and under
  • the Childcare Register (GCR) to look after children aged 5 to 7
  • both registers to look after children of all ages

It is not compulsory to register to look after children aged 8 or over. However, providers can apply to the voluntary part of the Childcare Register (GCR) if they want to look after children aged 8 and above.

If the provider does register, the parents of the children cared for may be able to get other types of support, eg help with childcare costs.  The childcare provider will need to pay a registration fee and annual fee, and can then be inspected.

If you are interested in registering as a childcare provider, see for more information.

What does  it mean if a childcare provider is "Ofsted registered"? 

This helps to maintain quality standards and helps to ensure the safety of children, while setting the standards for early learning, development and care. If a childcare provider is registered on the EYR or on either part of the GCR then they must meet certain standards. These standards include the suitability of the staff for working with children, and the suitability and safety of the premises.

As part of the registration process, Ofsted carries out a Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS) to make sure all staff are suitable for working with children. This applies to all providers who are Ofsted registered, regardless of which register they have joined.

Childcare inspection reports

Ofsted is the national Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. For childcare inspection reports see 

Complaints about childcare providers

You must complain to the childminder or childcare provider before complaining to any other organisation. The procedure is the same whether you have a child at the setting or not. You can take your complaint further if you’re not satisfied after going through all the steps in the complaints procedure.

Childminders registered with Ofsted

You can complain to Ofsted if you can’t solve the problem by talking to the childminder.

Childminders registered with a childminder agency

You can complain to the childminder agency if you can’t solve the problem by talking to the childminder. The agency will tell you how you can make a complaint. You can get the contact details of the agency from the childminder’s certificate of registration. The childminder must display the certificate where they work and show it to you if you ask.

Safeguarding concerns

If you think a child is in actual danger contact Children's Social Care on 0191 277 2500 or the local police on 101.

Page last updated: 
22 December 2011
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