Tips for Choosing Childcare

Choosing Childcare is a decision that faces most parents at some point in their parenting journey. It often involves trying to balance the parents’ need for childcare with that of their child.

Considerations for parents can include:

Practical issues

  • Is it affordable? Paid childcare in Ireland is expensive relative to other European countries. Costs vary considerably between services. You may be required to pay for days you child does not attend (due to holidays or illness). Additionally you may be required to pay for days the service is not open (e.g. bank holidays). To avoid any misunderstandings it is important to clarify the fee policy before taking up a place in the childcare service. Subsidised childcare may be available for parents with social welfare entitlements and/or attending certain education/training courses.
  • Is it accessible? Do the opening hours fit with my other commitments (e.g. work, study, school)? If my child is unwell can he/she still attend or will I need to make alternative arrangements? Is there a waiting list – if so how are places allocated? If my child has additional needs will the service make the necessary provision to accommodate these needs?

Emotional issues

  • Do I trust the childcare service I have chosen? Are the staff approachable? Before deciding on a childcare service, it is worth asking to see a copy of the most recent inspection report for the childcare service. The reports are also available online: Map
  • Can I avoid obligations/pay back to relatives/friends? Will I be expected to volunteer/fundraise on behalf of the childcare service?
  • Can I avoid the ‘competing mother’? Many parents worry that children will show a preference for childcare practitioner – the relationship between the parent and child is unique, no other relationship can replace that. The childcare practitioner creates the emotional climate and environment around the child in their care – as such it is important that you as the parent should like and respect the practitioner.
  • Group- is it socially desirable? Is the service rooted in the community – does it share my priorities and values? Does the childcare service purport to ensure access to particular national schools – if so please check the admissions policy of the national school.

Meeting the Child’s needs

Children have emotional, developmental and group needs that high quality childcare can support.

  • Emotional – children require a secure emotional bond with caregiver. This bond is one of the most important building blocks for good emotional well-being and mental health in later life and as such it should be good enough. Children should be afforded the opportunity to get to know their carer well – frequent changes in staffing are to be avoided.
  • Developmental needs – early years care and education provides a wonderful opportunity for children to explore a new part of their world, negotiate new challenges and make connections between what is known and new knowledge. The childcare setting can influence how that child thinks and what they think about. The child should be offered educational and developmental opportunities that are appropriate to his/her age and stage of development. Children learn through their senses, by doing, by playing, using language and feeling secure and loved.
  • Group needs – making the transition from the home environment is an important opportunity for the child to learn about social acceptance. The chosen childcare setting should be reflective and respective of the ethnicity and culture of the child. Children learn to be part of a group and it is through this group that meaning making occurs.

Awareness of and prioritising these needs can help to make the childcare choices easier.

Advice and support about local childcare options is available by contacting: Limerick Childcare Committee on 061 600918 Email: