Search for childcare in Portsmouth

Types of childcare

We understand that as a parent or carer it can be difficult to make an informed choice about childcare. What is childcare? Where do I start looking? How do I know my child will be safe?

For children who have not yet started school, there are a number of options available for childcare, including; childminders, nurseries and pre-schools.

What is the difference?

  • Pre-Schools tend to be open between 8am-4pm term time only. Some open for fewer hours or some for half-days each week.  Pre-Schools are Ofsted registered and inspected regularly.
  • Nurseries tend to be open between 8am-6pm all year round. Nurseries are Ofsted registered and inspected regularly.
  • Childminders offer flexible care in their own home for up to 3 children under the age of 5. Some also care for older children before and after school. Childminders are Ofsted registered and work to the same standards and are inspected regularly in the same way as nurseries and pre-schools. Childminders often offer additional services such as earlier care, later care, weekend care and school pickups/drop-offs which can be invaluable to families.

You can search for Portsmouth Childcare here. You can also post your requirements on the Portsmouth Find a Childminder Facebook page which is managed by Portsmouth Childminders, and they will reply to you directly about available places. You can also watch this video about a Portsmouth childminder.

Your choice of childcare depends on the hours you work, your transport options and other commitments you may have such as school-runs for older children or studying. You can place your child with more than one childcarer. Some parents use a combination of a childminder and a pre-school/nursery to suit their requirements.

The activities your child will take part in vary depending on the childcare provider and your child’s age. Registered childcare for 0-5 years will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, a set of standards the childcare provider must follow to help your child learn and develop.

EYFS focuses on learning through play. The areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

Childcare providers also have a duty to consider how best to offer extra support for children with a disability or special educational needs – talk to the provider about any specific requirements your child has.

If you’re struggling to secure childcare and need some help – email us at or give us a call on 023 9268 8830.

  • 2020 Portsmouth Childcare Sufficiency Assessment – This assessment provides an overview of childcare sufficiency in Portsmouth, looking at the current level of supply and demand of childcare across the city, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to find childcare

  • It is important to start looking early – good childcare can get booked up quickly and you may experience long waiting lists.
  • Research all your options and be prepared with a list of questions to help with your decision-making (some useful questions can be found below).
  • Visit the setting to get a feel for the day-to-day routine, and take your child with you to see whether they like it too.
  • Visit more than one provider, so that you can make comparisons.
  • Think about your child’s age and needs, for example, if they are very young they may need one to one attention and care, whilst older children may prefer to mix with other children.
  • Once you’ve chosen the right one for you, tell them of any particular needs your child has, such as dietary requirements or allergies. You could also share your child’s health and development review that is completed with your health visiting team.
  • Make sure you get a contract or agreement to sign but read carefully first to make sure everything you’ve agreed is written down.

What to consider when visiting a childcare provider

You will probably have lots of questions when choosing a new childcare provider – here are a few to get you started:

  • Are the children happy, safe and playing together?
  • Are the adults friendly and joining in with what the children are doing?
  • Are there lots of activities on offer to help children learn and play?
  • Are the premises and resources clean, well-kept and safe for children?
  • Is there a fun outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?
  • Are the premises accessible for wheelchair use and do they have resources to support a child with a disability or special educational needs?

Childcare costs and funding

Depending on the age of your child and your circumstances, you may be eligible for childcare funding. Find out more on the ‘help with childcare costs’ pages.