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Types of childcare (registered and unregistered)

Anyone who provides childcare for children under the age of 8 for more than 2 hours a day for reward, must be registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).



Childminders are childcare providers who work in their own homes caring for children and are based in the community.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide childcare for young children from birth to age 5. They usually open from early morning to early evening, Monday to Friday, all year round. They offer a caring, safe, stimulating environment either as full-day care or part-time care for babies and pre-school children. Some may also provide care before and after school and in the holidays for older children too.

Playgroups / Mudiad Meithrin

Playgroups cater mainly for children aged 2½ to 5 years, usually for 2 to 3 hours in the morning or afternoon and mainly during term time. Mudiad Meithrin (opens new window) are Welsh-medium playgroups which give children an opportunity to become bilingual (in English and Welsh).

Part-time education for children aged 3 and 4

All children have the right to a free, part-time, good quality early education place in an approved setting the term after their third birthday. Part-time means a minimum of 10 hours a week, for around the same number of weeks as the normal school year. An approved setting may be a school, playgroup, day nursery or childminder.

Out-of-school childcare clubs

Out-of-school childcare clubs help parents or carers who work or attend training. They include breakfast clubs, after school clubs, holiday play schemes and wrap around day-care for school aged children.

Open access playschemes

Open access playschemes are places where children are free to come and go. They must be registered with CIW if they cater for children under 8 for more than 2 hours a day.



The following childcare options are not required to be registered with CIW. (Please note that if you use childcare which is not registered or approved you will not be able to claim financial assistance from the UK government).

  • Clubs and sessions that run for less than 2 hours
  • Au pairs
  • Babysitters
  • Friends and family members.

Types of childcare (may be registered / approved)

The following childcare options are not usually registered by CIW but do require registration in particular circumstances:

  • Nannies
  • Crèches

Childcare at home Voluntary Approval Scheme Wales

Anyone, other than a close relative who provides childcare in the child's home may apply to become an approved childcare provider. In order to be approved under this scheme, childcare providers must:

Contact Family Information Service (FIS) for more information on the approval of childcare workers in your home and how to access any related financial support from the UK government you may be eligible to receive.

Please note the Childcare at home Voluntary Approval Scheme (opens new window) in Wales is an approved scheme. Although it does not include registration, you may still be eligible to claim financial support from the UK government.


National Minimum Standards

All settings which are regulated by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) (opens new window) need to comply with the current National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare. The document is on the Welsh Government website: National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare (opens new window).

The standards are made in accordance with section 30(3) of Part 2 of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010. Registered persons must have regard to the standards that relate to the type of care provided.


Childcare for all

Your Family Information Service (FIS) can support you to find childcare suitable for your child's individual needs, in your area.

It will also have information about how to access help to cover childcare costs. Referral schemes in all parts of Wales help children with additional needs to attend playgroups / Mudiad Meithrin (opens new window) with other children of the same age.



All childcare providers must meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and make 'reasonable adjustments' to include disabled children. They must not treat a disabled child 'less favourably' than a non-disabled child because of their impairment or health condition. You can phone the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) on 0808 800 0082 for advice or information.