Find local childcare


Finding Childcare

The Essex Family Information Service gives free and unbiased information to parents and carers regarding the different types of childcare and family support services available in Essex. 

For more information you can contact the service on 0800 055 6874 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm & Saturday 9am – 12pm or email Please provide your postcode in order for the Family Information Service to carry out a childcare search in your area.

Types of Childcare

There is a wide range of childcare provision in Essex. The type that you choose will depend on your family's needs. Your childcare options include:

Pre-schools (including play groups and nursery schools) which provide play and early education for children under five. This is seasonal care usually provided during term time for children aged between two and five years old. They are registered by Ofsted
Day nurseries which provide full or part-time care and early education for babies and children up to the age of five years. Some may also offer a provision for older children before/after school and in the holiday period. They are usually open from approximately 8am to 6pm and generally operate all year, including school holidays. They are registered by Ofsted

Childminders care for children, usually in their own home. They can often offer flexible hours while providing a wide range of learning opportunities, both in and out of the home environment. They are registered by Ofsted

Out-of-school or 'kids' clubs provide care and activities to fit around school hours. They are registered and inspected by Ofsted for children up to 8 years, but can also cater for children over eight. Out-of-school care includes breakfast clubs, after-school clubs which open between approximately 3pm - 6pm and holiday play schemes which are provided during school holidays.

Creches provide occasional care for children under eight years. Some are in permanent premises and care for children while parents are engaged in particular activities, such as shopping or sport. Others are provided on a temporary basis, perhaps running alongside a one-off event.

Nannies - provide childcare in your own home and can look after children of any age.


The NSPCC and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) both recommend the following when selecting a babysitter:
  • Choose a babysitter over sixteen years old.
  • No child under sixteen should be left to care for an infant.
  • Always ask for at least two references and contact the referees yourself.
  • RoSPA also suggests that parents should consider all possible eventualities (complete a risk assessment) before leaving their children with a babysitter.
Further guidance on choosing a baby sitter is available from RoSPA and the NSPCC:

RoSPA - Babysitting Guidance
NSPCC - Leaving Children at Home Alone

As there is no requirement for babysitters to be 'registered' and no legislation exists to govern this type of childcare, the Council does not hold lists of people who offer babysitting services. Parents may  find a sitter by asking friends or relatives for recommendations or by looking in the Yellow Pages or searching the web for babysitting agencies. It is important, however, if you choose to use a babysitting agency that you are clear as to how they vet their sitters. For example, do they interview employees and check their references and do they do a complete CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check to ensure that the sitter is not considered a danger to children?


Last updated on: 07/09/2015 - 14:50