Childcare options for parents

You can search Sheffield Directory’s childcare listings to find different types of childcare provider.

To decide which one is best for you and your child this page provides a guide to what each type of provider offers and some advice on what to look for when choosing a childcare provider.


Child-minders are self-employed carers who look after children of all ages. They must be registered with Ofsted or an Ofsted registered Childminder Agency.

Childminders work from domestic premises, normally their own home. They can also work up to half of their time from suitable non-domestic premises, so they have the option of working with other childminders at a school or community hall.

The number of children a childminder can look after varies depending on their age. They can look after up to 6 children under the age of 8, including a maximum of 3 children under 5.

Childminders can also employ up to two assistants. Assistants can be left in sole charge of your child for up to 2 hours, as long as they have the required paediatric first aid training.

Childminders can deliver Funded Early Learning for 2, 3 and 4 year olds if they’re registered with the Council, although they cannot be funded for children they are related to.

You can search for a Childminder using the Sheffield Directory  at the top of the page, in the "search" box. Or you'll also find a link to a list of  childminders at the bottom of this page.


There are different types of nursery setting available for children under school age. You may see names that include day nursery, nursery school, pre-school, play-group or children’s centre. They will all offer a similar service but with a slightly different focus.

Day nurseries focus on providing a safe environment to look after your child and let them learn through play. They are likely to open for longer hours and take children from age 0 until ready for school.

Pre-schools are likely to focus more on education, providing more structured environment with morning and afternoon sessions similar to a school day although the learning will still be through play activities. They normally take children from the age of 2.

Play-groups are likely to provide a more informal environment, focusing on group interaction and developing social skills. They are likely to be more community based and involve parents in activities. They are less likely to open long hours.

Some nurseries also provide breakfast clubs, after school clubs and/or holiday clubs. The hours they provide can be full and part-time.

They can be privately run on a commercial basis; some are based in a workplace or college for employees or students; others are non-profit making usually serving a local community.

Most nurseries provide Funded Early Learning for 2 to 4 year olds.

School Nursery Classes

The majority of primary schools in Sheffield also have a nursery class. They will normally be staffed with a qualified nursery teacher. Some do take 2 year olds but most are less likely to take a child under 3 and will be more education focussed than a traditional nursery. Opening hours are likely to be the same as the school day, with morning and afternoon sessions either side of a lunch break.

School nursery classes provide Funded Early Learning but check if they offer the Extended FEL for 3 and 4 year olds.

Breakfast and After School Clubs

Childcare for all ages, they extend the school day to better suit the needs of working parents.
They are also referred to as Out of School Clubs or Wrap-around Care. They are often run by or in association with the school, but some nurseries also offer this service.

Because the clubs are based around the school day they will only operate during school term time, but some clubs run or link to Holiday Clubs.

Out of school clubs can offer Funded Early Learning for pre-school children if they are registered.

Holiday Clubs

Group care and play care for children during the school holidays.


Group care for occasional or limited amounts of time, normally 2 hours or less.

They are often in a permanent premises attached to sports centres, shopping centres or colleges. The focus is on providing a comfortable place for your child rather than the education that a nursery setting provides.

Home Childcarers: Nannies and Au Pairs

A Home Childcarer is employed by you to provide childcare, usually in your own home, for children from birth up to the age of 18 years. Home Childcarers normally fall into two types: Nannies or Au Pairs.

While the two terms are often used without making a distinction there are official differences between the two.

A Nanny is a professional with formal qualifications and will be paid a salary under UK employment law. They may or may not live with the family. Working hours will be more flexible as part of the contract between the family and the nanny.

An Au Pair is a young person from another country, living with the family as a family member rather than an employee and paid “pocket money” rather than a salary. They are in the UK as part of a cultural exchange, so their responsibilities at the home are limited accordingly.

Home Childcarers cannot deliver Funded Early Learning.

More information on Home Childcarers is available on our dedicated page.

Childcare for a child with special needs or a disability

All registered childcare is required to ensure that it is accessible and inclusive.

This means childcare should not be refused, or a child treated less favourably, because of any disability or learning difficulty.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the needs of each child are met and that children with disabilities have access to the premises.

Specialist services can provide support and advice to parents and childcarers about children’s play, learning and development. They include:

Early Years Inclusion Team for 0 to 5 year olds (SEN Early Years).

Special Needs Inclusion Playcare Service (SNIPS) for children attending mainstream out of school and holiday clubs.

There are also specialist support teams for children with a diagnosis of Autism, Hearing Impairment or Visual Impairment.

Find childcare for children and more information using the Local Offer web pages. You can also filter the childcare listings by the support you need.

View all childminders      View Holiday clubs                

View all nurseries              View all pre-schools 

View all play-groups