Playgroups and crèches

Playgroups offer short daily sessions of care and learning through play for children aged two to four years old. A crèche is a place where young children are cared for during the day while their parents or carers do something else on the same premises. This might be working, attending classes or going shopping.

What is a playgroup?

Playgroups are run by trained early year’s professionals. Parents are closely involved and some are run by parent committees.

Playgroups are registered with the Early Years Team in their local Health and Social Care Trust and inspected annually.

Those in the Pre-School Education Expansion Programme have some funded places for children in their final pre-school year.

Most places will be 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 playgroups:

  • children can play and learn as well as have fun with friends
  • you can take part in your child's early years education
  • you can meet and get to know parents in your area

However, playgroups are not suitable if you need full day-care.

Things to check with playgroups

  • that the building is safe and well-maintained
  • that the playgroup is registered with Early Years Team in your local Health and Social Care Trust
  • that there is a wide range of activities
  • that there are enough qualified staff
  • that the children seem happy, well-supervised and doing suitable activities

Questions to ask playgroups

  • how many staff are on duty at any one time?
  • what qualifications and experience do staff have?
  • what policies and procedures does the group have?
  • can you stay with your child until they seem settled?

What is a crèche?

A crèche is a place where young children are cared for during the day while their parents or carers do something else on the same premises. They may be run by a legal or voluntary body, a community group or private company.

The opening hours of the crèche may be flexible to meet the changing needs of parents and carers. Créches which care for children for more than two hours a day will be registered and regularly inspected by the Early Years Team in your local Health and Social Care Trust.

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