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Childcare options

There's a range of childcare options available if you're:

  • returning to work
  • looking for a free early education and childcare place for your two, three or four year old
  • seeking play opportunities for your child or children
  • needing someone to care for your child while you study, or simply need a break

Find childcare in Waltham Forest
The Waltham Forest Directory provides the most up to date information from Ofsted on registered childcare providers.

Search for childcare providers

Get information on the different options available below to suit your needs.

Free early education and childcare

All three and four year olds and some two year olds are entitled to a certain amount of free early education and childcare. This is known as the Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) which is a government grant.

Find out about:

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide care and education for children from six weeks to compulsory school-age. There are different types of day nurseries e.g. privately run, community, council or workplace. They must all be registered and regularly inspected by Ofsted and have to comply with strict guidelines on staff/children ratios. Opening hours will tend to fit in with an average working day of 8am to 6pm, and care is usually provided all year round.

View a listing of day nurseries in Waltham Forest


Children can usually attend pre-school from the age of two until compulsory school age (if parents defer a reception place).

They usually offer three-hour morning or afternoon sessions. Children can also bring in a packed lunch and stay through the lunch break in order to run two sessions together. A full day at pre-school would be the same length as a school day, between 8.30am and 3.30pm.

Most pre-schools have the same term dates as local schools. 

The ratio for two year olds is one adult to four children, and for three to five year olds is one adult to eight children.

View pre-schools in Waltham Forest


A childminder is someone who cares for children in their own home. They generally provide care for young children. They look after small groups of children of different ages and from different families.

Most childminders will be registered for three children under five years and another three aged five to eight years. However, many childminders in Waltham Forest are expanding their business and employing assistants, or working alongside other registered minders, so they can care for more children at once. 

In England, childminders register with Ofsted, the regulatory body. They follow the same legal framework, the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework 2014, as any other childcare provider (such as pre-schools and nurseries), so should offer the same quality experience.

View a short video - a guide to what parents think about using a registered childminder - produced by the National Childminding Association. It also has further information on the services childminders can provide.

View childminders in Waltham Forest


Local authority (LA) maintained nursery schools and classes are attached to LA infant and primary schools in Waltham Forest. Places are mostly available on a part time basis, either in the morning or afternoon, for children aged between three and five years old, although some will take two year olds. There is no charge to attend a LA nursery as these are funded by the government through the local authority. However there may be a charge for out of hours care such as a breakfast or after school club.

There are other types of childcare, which focus on providing occasional care or care for school-age children outside of normal school hours.

View school nurseries in Waltham Forest

Breakfast and afterschool clubs (out of school care)

Breakfast and afterschool clubs generally provide care before and after school for children aged from four to 12 years, although some are able to cater for older children as part of the government's extended schools agenda.

Clubs are either offered by a school or by an external childcare provider based at a school or local community venue.

Not all schools are required to provide out of school care if they can demonstrate that there is little or no demand for these services. They can satisfy government requirements by signposting to other local provision, such as childminders or nearby out of school clubs. However, if there is a definite need, schools are required to implement out of school care, but this does not have to be provided by the school itself.     

View afterschool clubs in Waltham Forest

View breakfast clubs in Waltham Forest


Crèches offer occasional care for children under eight years of age. Parents are not required to stay with their child. Crèches have to be registered if they run for more than two hours a day.

View creches in Waltham Forest

Holiday schemes

Holiday schemes are run during the school holidays and are based at schools, youth or community centres. They are generally open to children aged from four to 12 years although some are able to cater for older children.

View holiday schemes in Waltham Forest

Contact the childcare team

If you need further support with looking for childcare, contact us at or call 020 8496 3566.

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