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Family Information Service

To follow any changes to this service, visit the Council Service Updates page.

Free impartial information, advice and signposting for families. Search for childcare and find out what support you can get with your childcare costs.

Information for families

We have a wide range of information for families with children aged 0 to 20 (or 25 if the young person has a disability or SEND) including:

Search for childcare online

Looking for childcare

There are a number of different types of childcare to choose from including:

  • Childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • Pre school/playgroup
  • Out of school clubs

The Family Information Service can provide you with a list of Ofsted registered childcare providers in North Lincolnshire including: day nurseries, childminders, children’s centres, pre schools/playgroups, out of school clubs and crèches.

Alternatively, you can search for childcare on our Family Information Directory.

Our childcare information includes contact details, opening hours, quality assurance and last inspection grade.

If you still need further help on finding suitable childcare please contact us on 01724 296629 or email fis@northlincs.gov.uk

You can also look for details of other Family Information Services outside of North Lincolnshire on the NAFIS website.

There are several different schemes available to help parents and carers pay their childcare costs, depending on their individual family circumstances.

Details of some of these schemes are given below. For more information about which schemes you might be eligible for you can also visit the Childcare Choices website where you will also find a handy calculator to help you work out which scheme will benefit you the most.

You can also contact us to discuss the options on offer.

Tax Free Childcare

Almost all working families are eligible for Tax Free Childcare.  The scheme is available to pay for childcare for children up to the age of 12 (or 17 if they have a disability).

You can open an online account into which you (or anyone else) can pay in money to cover your childcare costs. For every 80 pence you pay in, the Government will pay in an extra 20 pence. The payment will be calculated and paid every three months. You will then be able to use the total amount saved in the account to pay your childcare bills by linking your childcare provider directly to your account.

For eligibility criteria and to apply for Tax Free Childcare see Childcare Choices.

Two and three year old funding

Information on two, three and four year old funding:

Childcare help under Universal Credit

Child Tax Credit has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people. To find out if you are eligible and how to claim visit Child Tax Credit on Gov.UK 

If you are looking to return to work or training, support might be available from your local Jobcentre Plus.

Parents or carers in education or training

There are several schemes available to assist students with the cost of paying for childcare whilst they study. They could be a young parent, an adult learner, full-time or part-time or studying or training for a return to work. Further information is available on Help for learners under 19 years old on Gov.UK and Help for learners over 20 years old on Gov.UK

Parents or carers of children with special educational needs or disability

Parents and carers of children with special educational needs or disability may also be entitled to other sources of financial help to cover their childcare costs.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

The ‘care’ component of DLA can be claimed when a child is three months old, if they require extra care and supervision due to a physical and/or mental disability. The ‘mobility’ component can be claimed when the child reaches three years old. For more information and to receive a claim pack, please contact the benefits enquiry help line on 0800 882200.

Direct Payments

If you have a child with a disability you can apply to North Lincolnshire Council for Direct Payments. This means you have more choice and control over the care your child receives. Direct Payments can allow you to shape your own childcare package to meet you and your child’s needs. For more information on Direct Payments call 01724 407988.

 The Local Offer

For information about resources, services, support, activities, and childcare in North Lincolnshire for children with special educational needs or disabilities and their families, visit the North Lincolnshire Local Offer website.

All three and four year olds are entitled to a funded childcare place and some two year olds may also be eligible.

The funded childcare place is up to 15 hours per week during school term time and is available the school term after the child’s second or third birthday.  Working families of three and four year olds may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week of funded childcare – a total of 30 hours funded childcare.

The childcare is funded early education for two, three and four year olds and can make a real difference to their life chances.

A child’s home learning environment is key for a good start for children, but good quality early education provides lasting benefits to children throughout their school years. It ultimately impacts on their GCSE results at 16 years of age.

Studies show that the impact of early education demonstrates:

  • Positive effects on English and Maths – not just on early outcomes but still showing in English and Maths scores at age 11
  • Better literacy, behaviour and concentration as teenagers – as well as getting better GCSE results (with children predicted to achieve five or more GCSE at grade A* to C)

For further information see:

The Family Information Service can provide you with a list of Ofsted registered childcare providers in North Lincolnshire.

If your child is under eight and you want care for more than two-hours a day, the childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted. It is always a good idea to use registered providers, even for short periods of time or if your children are over eight. Settings that offer childcare for children over the age of eight can opt to register with Ofsted on their Voluntary Childcare Register.

It is illegal for people to provide care for more than two-hours a day for children under eight if they are not registered. Unless they are a relative or the childcare is offered for no reward.

Choosing Ofsted registered childcare for your child means that:

  • The staff should have been vetted and police checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
  • The quality of the care provided by the setting will be inspected by Ofsted once in every three year cycle to check that it meets their minimum standards. The result of the inspection is then published in a report
  • At least half of the staff in a group setting must hold a childcare qualification
  • Checks are carried out on the premises to make sure the building is safe and suitable for children
  • All registered childcare providers should work to meet the individual needs of all children, including those with a disability or for whom English is an additional language etc.
  • However, they are all different – offering different routines, activities, quality, atmosphere, vision and so on.

When looking for childcare, give yourself plenty of time to find a suitable childcare provider.

Consider what you require from a childcare provider. Do you want full-time or part-time care? A group setting? A homely environment? Talk to other parents. Personal recommendations are helpful, but always take up references.

Make appointments to visit two or three providers to compare what they can offer you and your child. Take your child with you so you can see how the staff or childminder interacts with them. Think about your child’s personality and interests and which setting will best meet their needs.

What to look for:

  • Are you and your child made to feel welcome by the staff or childminder?
  • Observe the staff or childminder – how are they relating to the children or your child and are you happy with this?
  • Are the children comfortable and happy with the staff or childminder and with the activities and their surroundings?
  • Cultural sensitivity – are different cultures represented in toys, books, and displays?
  • Is there a clean, pleasant, child centred building or play area and somewhere safe to play outside?

Here are some examples of questions to ask the childcare provider:

  • Can I see your registration certificate and latest Ofsted inspection report?
  • Have you acted upon the actions and recommendations of the Ofsted Inspector?
  • What qualifications do you have for working with children?
  • Have you done any training this year? If not, why not?
  • How will you help my child settle in to what will be an unfamiliar environment?
  • How are children kept safe and what would happen in an emergency?
  • Can I look around the building to see the rooms and outside play space? If there is no outside play space – how will you make sure my child gets the chance to play outside?
  • Where will my child rest?
  • What kind of food and drink will you give my child and will they be able to choose for themselves?
  • What will my child do all day?
  • Do parents and carers have plenty of opportunities to say what they want for their child?
  • How do you encourage good behaviour?
  • Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they? How will their timetable fit in with my child?
  • How will you make sure I know how my child is getting on?
  • Will my child have a main carer?
  • Are you working towards Steps to Quality – the local quality award?

It might also be a good idea to ask to see the provider’s written policies on health and safety, safeguarding, absence etc.

Sometimes finding childcare that meets the needs of you and your child may not be straightforward. This may be because:

  • You need childcare at very short notice
  • You need childcare outside of the normal working hours of most providers (8am to 6pm)
  • You need your child dropping-off or picking-up from school so this limits the number of providers who can meet your needs
  • You do not have your own transport to get your child to the childcare provider so this limits your options
  • Your child has specific needs that not all providers may be able to meet
  • There are a limited number of childcare providers in your area
  • All of the providers you have contacted are full.

The Family Information Service offers a childcare brokerage service for families who are struggling to find childcare for any of the above or any other reason.

We have expert knowledge of the childcare available in all parts of North Lincolnshire and up-to-date vacancy information for many of the providers.

Please contact us if you are having difficulties and we will try and match you with providers who can meet your specific needs.

It is important to choose a good quality childcare provider. Find out how their quality is measured below:

Ofsted registers and inspections

OfSTED is the official government agency which regulates and inspects early years providers and schools. Your early years childcare provider should be registered on one or more of the following OfSTED registers:

  • The Early Years Register (EYR) – if caring for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday
  • The Compulsory part of the Childcare Register (CCR) – if caring for children from the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage to the end of a child’s seventh year.

Providers not required to register on either the EYR or the CCR can opt to become registered on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register (VCR). This includes providers who care for children aged over eight, or when children are cared for in their own home, for example by a nanny.

Registration on the VCR means that parents and carers can still apply for the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit and Tax Free Childcare to help them in meeting their childcare costs. This is on the same terms as if they were using a provider registered on the CCR or EYR.

OfSTED will inspect all providers that register on the EYR within 30 months of the date of their registration and then at least once in every four year period.

They will also inspect a structured sample of providers who are registered on the CCR and VCR. They will inspect all providers where a complaint has been made that relates to the conditions of registration.  Inspections are carried out with little or no notice. As a result of the inspection they are given one of four gradings:

  • Outstanding – the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is outstanding and safeguarding is effective
  • Good – the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good and safeguarding is effective
  • Requires Improvement – where one or more aspects of the setting’s work require improvement, however safeguarding is effective
  • Inadequate – the provider is not meeting one or more of the learning and development requirements and/or safeguarding and welfare requirements

Wherever possible, you should use an early years provider that has received a grading of at least “Good”. You can obtain a copy of the inspection report from the early years provider themselves or by visiting the OfSTED website.

What to do if you are concerned about an early years childcare provider

If at any time you have concerns about the quality of the learning or care that your child is receiving, or about whether or not your provider is meeting the terms of their registration, you can make a complaint to OfSTED by calling 0300 123 1231 or through us on 01724 296629.

The early years foundation stage

All providers registered on the early years register (caring for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday) must also meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS).

The EYFS framework is designed to support early years providers, children and families in promoting the child’s development and learning through play. It helps them achieve as much as they can in their early lives.

Staff qualifications and training

Well trained staff and childminders who continually seek to develop their understanding and knowledge of childcare practice are key to providing high quality learning environment.

Ask the people who are working with your child about the qualifications they hold, and the training they have attended or are planning to attend in the future.

We run regular training courses for staff working in early years provision. Your staff member or childminder should be able to tell you about the courses they have attended and how these have helped them to think about their practice.

Quality improvement support tools

Steps to Quality

We run our own quality assurance scheme for early years providers called Steps to Quality.

Making sure you leave your child in a safe, secure and stimulating environment is paramount in every parent’s mind when choosing an early years provider. Parents, quite rightly, have high expectations of their early years providers. They expect the best care and education for their child. Our Steps to Quality scheme aims to ensure early years providers throughout North Lincolnshire are meeting that high standard.

Early Years providers work through three progressive steps to evidence and develop their practice and support OfSTED requirements. By reaching a step on the scheme, an early years provider is able to show parents that they are committed to providing quality education and care.

ITERS-R and ECERS-R

We also offer other tools to support the quality development of providers:

  • ITERS-R is the Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale focusing on the age range birth to 2.5 years of age
  • ECERS-R is the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale focusing on the age range 2.5 to 5 years

Both of these scales contain in-depth descriptors which can be used to assess the quality of the environment.  In practical terms the process involves observation-based audits on aspects such as space and furnishings, personal care routines and activities which provide measurable ‘profiles’.  A development plan is then drawn up and implemented over a period of a year and progress is tracked.

SSTEW

SSTEW is a programme of ‘Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well Being’ which is a self-reflective tool is used to help providers develop staff practice.

Below is a list of key websites that provide information for working parents:

Working families: Helping working parents and carers to achieve work life balance

Working, jobs and pensions : A comprehensive guide for workers’ rights in the workplace, including leave, career breaks, redundancy and work life balance

Money Advice Service: Provides independent free advice on money matters

Gingerbread: Provides information and advice to single parent families

Family Lives: Provides help and support in all aspects of family life