Finding childcare

There are different types of childcare available in Leeds. Here is a summary of the main types and below that, some guidance on finding the right kind of childcare for your needs.

Children’s centres

There are 70 children’s centres across Leeds. They are run by Leeds City Council and offer services for families with babies and young children. Children centres run free groups and activities to support you and your child, for example:

  • Parenting classes
  • Baby massage
  • Play sessions
  • Health & wellbeing groups

Many children’s centres have family support workers who can help you with difficulties, for example, problems with money or housing.

Children’s centres are a really good place to meet other parents, make friends and get support. You can attend any children’s centre you like but it is a good idea to use your local one. Most have their own website, but you can contact them all by phone too.

You can find your local Children’s Centre on Leeds City Council’s Family Information Centre website:

Family Information Centre

Day nurseries

Private day nurseries care for children aged from birth to five years old and usually offer care from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, for most of the year.

Alternatively, Leeds City Council own and run Little Owls Nurseries, as a traded service for the families of Leeds to ensure sufficient childcare is available to all those that need it:

Little Owls Nurseries

Little Owls Nurseries provide full day care for children aged 3 months to 5 years between the hours of 8am and 6pm in 24 of their 28 nurseries, and also have some term time only settings, which offer preschool education for 2 to 5-year-olds. Little Owls Nurseries also have strong links with the Children’s Centre family services, maternity services and health visitors. This gives the whole family easy access to free parenting support and advice.


Registered childminders are self-employed professionals who offer childcare in their own homes. They usually care for small numbers of children. Childminders can often be flexible to fit your schedule.

Out of school clubs

Out of school clubs run before and after school and are suitable for parents who have commitments such as work. The clubs allow you to take your children to school or pick them up before and after normal school times. Many offer meals such as breakfast or evening meal.


Playgroups are organised in the local area to care for children, between the ages of 3 and 5, for up to 4 hours per day. They are usually in local venues such as schools or community centres.


Playschemes usually only care for children during school holidays and are in schools or community centres.


Crèches provide short term or occasional care, to support parents doing a particular activity in the same venue. For example, some education centres or leisure centres may offer a crèche.

How to choose childcare

Choosing the right childcare provider for your child is an important decision. Here is some guidance to help you:

The Money Helper website has a really helpful guide to the different types of childcare, so you can compare them and find the type that is right for you:

Compare Childcare Options

Use the Family Information Service, run by Leeds City Council, to find childcare providers in your area. You can also find out if places are available, the opening hours, the costs, and any specialist care your child needs, for example support with special educational needs or disabilities (also called SEND).

Family Information Service

The website also includes a guide to help you choose.

Choosing Childcare

Next, you should visit the childcare providers you are interested in. This will help you get a feeling for the environment, the manager and the staff and you can ask questions. During your visit, you should consider:

  • Do children play together well, do they seem happy?
  • Do the staff seem friendly and caring?
  • Is it clean?
  • Is there a good outdoor play space?
  • Is food included in the cost and can they provide for special diets?
  • Do you need to provide your own baby formula and nappies?

There are lots of policies that childcare providers must follow to make sure they are safe and legal. For example all staff must have been checked for a criminal record.

Also, nearly all types of childcare providers must be registered with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). Ofsted is a government department which inspects childcare, schools and other children’s services) regularly to check the standard of care.

You can find the Ofsted report for any childcare provider on the Ofsted website. You can search using your postcode.

Ofsted Reports

Using family or friends for childcare

If you are working and struggling to afford childcare, there are other options you can consider that are legal. For example, a relative would be allowed to look after your child.

If you ask a friend or group of friends to look after your child, there are rules you may need to follow. If your child is under 8, and your friend is looking after them for more than 2 hours a day, they must be registered as a childminder with Ofsted by law. Find out more:

Childcare Options

Last Updated: 28 May 2024

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