Benefits of Registered Childcare

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Are you interested in becoming a registered childcare provider, or do you want to know why you should use registered childcare?

Finding Registered and Approved Childcare

Family Support NI list all childcare providers that are Registered and Approved with Health & Social Services in Northern Ireland.  Find Registered and Approved Childcare at Family Support NI.  

Benefits of Registered Childcare

Registration is a legal requirement. It is an offence if a childcare provider is required to register and doesn't.

If you are entitled to financial support to help pay towards your childcare costs, you can only claim these benefits by using Registered or Approved Childcare.

Registered childcare providers are vetted, registered, insured and inspected, and they must adhere to the 'minimum standards' that have been set in place.

This is to help ensure:

  • Acceptable standards of care - You can be reassured that the care your children are receiving and the environment in which it is provided meets at least the MINIMUM standards of care
  • Children are protected - Childcare providers are vetted, facilities are inspected and safe, childcare providers are appropriately trained, health & safety and safeguarding procedures are in place
  • Childcare providers are protected - Policies and procedures are in place, guidance and support to access relevant training, insurance policy in place, guidance on record keeping, etc.
  • Good quality childcare and best practice is promoted - Childcare providers can receive help and guidance from their Social Worker/Early Years Team

Help with Childcare Costs

You can only get help with your childcare costs if you are using a form of childcare that is Registered or Approved.  Many parents, regardless of their circumstances, may be entitled to some form of financial benefit or tax relief to help towards their childcare costs.  For more information, see our article: Help with Childcare Costs.  

How do I know if my Childcare Provider is Registered/Approved?

You can ask your childcare provider to view their registration/approval certificate that has been issued by the Registering Early Years Team.

You can also check that your childcare provider is registered by making sure they are listed on the public childcare register: www.familysupportni.gov.uk. You should check this periodically to ensure that your childcare provider has not ceased registration or approval without your knowledge.

Are you interested in becoming a Childminder? Or setting up a Day Nursery, Creche, Out of School, Playgroup or Holiday Scheme?

If you are looking after children for more than 2 hours per day, for reward, The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 requires you to register with your local Health and Social Care Trust, Early Years Team. Registration is a legal requirement

Some supervised activities, e.g. uniformed organisations such as Girls/Boys Brigade, are not required to be registered, but if you are in doubt, you should seek advice from the Early Years Team.

Contact your local Early Years Team for guidance or to register your interest: Find my local Early Years Team.

What are the Minimum Standards?

The Minimum Standards specify the 'minimum level' of service to be provided by a childcare provider in order to pass inspection and be registered with the Early Years Team in the Health & Social Care Trust.

Childcare providers must meet the Minimum Standards in order to get and stay registered. 

The Minimum Standards help to provide assurance of a consistent level of quality of childcare services. They also help to ensure that each of the Early Years Teams within the 5 Health & Social Care Trust areas in Northern Ireland take a consistent approach to the registration and approval process. 

The Minimum Standards for Childminding and Daycare were developed to clarify the requirements that are contained within The Children (NI) Order 1995.

You can view the Minimum Standards in more detail in the Related Documents at the bottom of the page.

What is The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995?

The Children (NI) Order 1995 is the legislative framework for Northern Ireland's child protection system. It lays out the legal requirements regarding the care, upbringing and protection of children in Northern Ireland.

These legal requirements affect all people and organisations who work and care for children, whether parents/carers, paid carers or volunteers.

You can view the Order regarding Childminding and Day Care for Young Children in more detail.

Approved Home Childcare

Approved Home Childcare is childcare which is delivered by an Approved Home Childcarer (AHC) in the child’s own home. This type of childcare can be of particular interest to parents/carers working shifts or to those with children with additional needs or disabilities.

Approved Home Childcarers are required to be Approved by their local Health & Social Care Trust, Early Years Team. As Approved Home Childcarers are Approved by the Health & Social Care Trust it is an eligible form of childcare for parents who can claim help towards their childcare costs.

Approval as an Approved Home Childcarer is valid for one year only. As an Approved Home Childcarer it is your responsibility to contact your Early Years Team to renew your Approval, allowing adequate time before your approval is due to expire. Failure to do so will result in the expiration of your approval and any childcare benefit payments that parents are receiving being stopped as their childcare provider is no longer approved.

Parents can check that their Approved Home Childcarer's approval is still valid by checking that they remain listed on the public childcare register: www.familysupportni.gov.uk.   

If you are interested in becoming an Approved Home Childcarer, contact your local Early Years Team.


Related Documents

Being an Approved Home Childcarer

Minimum Standards

Minimum Standards - Children's Version

Minimum Standards - Implementation Guidance for Early Years


Last Updated: 25/06/2019