Childcare contracts

A childcare provider can be a childminder, home based childcarer, day nursery, pre-school/playgroup, out of school club or holiday playscheme. Most childcare providers are required to register with Ofsted and must meet the demands of the Ofsted Childcare Register Regulations. 

What is a childcare contract?

A contract is an agreement between you and the childcare provider as to what both of you are expected to do regarding the care of your child. It is very important that you are aware of what commitment you are agreeing to in case any problems arise in the future.

What should a contract contain?

  • The retainer fee or deposit to secure your child’s place
  • The amount you pay and what it covers, such as nappies, food or days out.
  • The hours/days your child will attend
  • What you pay if your child or the carer is sick
  • How much notice you have to give if you wish the childcare to end

Other points to consider

  • The agreed method of payment and length of contract
  • Whether you pay if your child does not attend due to sickness, holiday etc. 
  • Expenses, such as for trips
  • Any personal additions such as limiting screen time, no sugary treats or juices
  • Complaints procedure

Read the small print

Common causes for concern are over conditions in the childcare contract, so please read your contract carefully. It is a great idea to be clear about what you expect from each other from the start. If you are not happy about anything in the contract, discuss it with them. You can then try to negotiate something you can both agree to and change the contract.


Ofsted registers and inspects childcare for children aged from birth to 17 years.

Address: The National Business Unit
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

Telephone: 0300 123 1231

Citizens Advice Bureau

Advice and support including welfare benefits advice

Address: Citizens Advice Bureau
PO Box 1358

Telephone: 020 8427 9477