Day nurseries

Day nurseries are usually privately run and provide care for children aged from six weeks to five years old. All must be registered and annually inspected by Early Years Team in your local Health and Social Care Trust.

Childminding standards in a day nursery

All day nurseries must adhere to minimum standards for childminding and day care. There are strict guidelines on the ratio of staff to children:

  • for under two year olds - one carer to three children
  • two to three year olds - one carer to four children
  • three to five year olds - one carer to eight children

Day nurseries are usually open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm all year round.

Day nurseries participating in the Pre-School Education Programme will have an allocation of funded places for which children in their final pre-school year can apply. These places are available:

  • at least two and a half hours per day
  • five days per week
  • at least 38 weeks during the period September to June

In day nurseries:

  • 50 per cent of staff must have a childcare qualification
  • children have the chance to learn and play with friends
  • childcare is reliable - if one member of staff is ill, others are available to cover
  • some day nurseries offer school pick-ups and out of school care
  • you may be eligible for financial help and support towards the cost of your childcare
  • funded places may be available for children in their final pre-school year
  • part time places are often available

Some day nurseries are not flexible if you work shifts or weekends and there can be long waiting lists for a place.

Things to check with day nurseries

Before your child goes to a day nursery, you should check the nursery:

  • has places for your child's age group - some don't take children under two years old 
  • has a key worker carer system - babies in particular need to build up a relationship with one person
  • is clean, bright and child-centred, with plenty of safe space to play inside and out
  • has suitable facilities for your child throughout their time there, with different areas or rooms, depending on age
  • has children present who seem happy and relaxed
  • supervises children at all times with staff who communicate well in a warm and caring environment

Questions to ask day nurseries

You need to ask the day nursery about how they organise and run the place. You should ask:

  • the ratio of carers to children and turnover of staff in the last year
  • about the routine activities
  • when and where they give children sleep sessions
  • if they take the children off the day nursery premises
  • if they can provide a special diet
  • their discipline policy
  • about talking to the carer at the beginning and end of each day
  • their settling-in policy
  • for their most recent inspection report

Family support NI

Family support NI holds the Northern Ireland public register of all registered and approved childcare providers in Northern Ireland. You can use their website to search for registered and approved childcare providers in your area.

Childcare partnerships

Childcare partnerships give information and support to childcare providers, parents and employers.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.