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Early Years and Childcare

Are you looking for childcare and don't know where to begin?

There are many childcare options available in Cumbria, you can find details about the different childcare providers by searching on the right hand side of this page.

Finding the right care for your child is really important.  Give yourself plenty of time to look in to different options available. 

If you can't find what you're looking for or need some advice or support then contact Cumbria Children and Families Information Service on 03457 125 737 or email


A registered childminder is a self-employed person who provides care in their own home for other people's children.   Many offer flexible working hours, including out of school care and some work at weekends. 

A childminder must be registered with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education), if they provide care for someone else's child for 2 hours or more a day and who gets paid for this service.

Day Nursery

A day nursery offers care and learning opportunities for children up to the age of 5. Some are registered to care for babies from six weeks old.

Most are open 8.00am - 6.00pm and care is usually provided all year, they may also provide care for older children at breakfast, after school and holiday clubs.


A pre-school offers fun activities and learning opportunities to children from the age of 3 to 5 although some groups take younger children.  Session are held during school term time. 

The length of sessions can vary from 2 and a half to 4 hours and some offer full time childcare. 

Out of School Care

Out of school clubs offer care and play for school aged children at times when the school is closed.  Clubs are often based on school sites, although off-site clubs may collect children from local schools, either using transport or a 'walking bus'.

  • After school clubs usually runs from 3.30pm - 6.00pm during term time. 

  • A breakfast club provides care before school starting from 8.00am - 9.00am. 

  • Holiday playschemes offer play, activities and outing from children during school holidays. Typically open from 8.00am - 6.00pm and other will offer part-time hours.


Creches provide care for children while their parents or carers are occupied nearby.  This care is offered in some colleges, shopping and leisure centres.

It is short-term, occasional care for children under eight years.

Childcare In Your Own Home

A Home Childcarer
Home Childcarers are a form of approved childcare to enable parents to have their children cared for in their own home.  They can look after children of up to two families at any one time and either be self employed or employed by one or more of the families.

A nanny is someone you employ to care for your children in your home.  They can live with you or come to work daily. A live- in nanny's duties are typically focused on childcare and household tasks related to the children, such as preparing food.

Au Pairs
An au pair is usually a foreign student who comes to live with you from another country to help take care of your children and do light housework for 25 hours a week. 

Most au pairs will be 17 - 27 years old with no formal childcare training.

A Babysitter
A babysitter will look after your children in your home for short periods of time. 

Babysitters are generally responsible for planning activities (games, sports, art) or supervising play dates. Some will have other responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning, driving to and from scheduled activities, and helping with homework. Above all, a babysitter is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the children while the children are in their care. 

Children who have the right learning experiences at home are likely to do better at school.  To find easy, fun ways to help your child click on the pictures below: 

Birth - 18 months

18 - 36 months

36 - 60 months

Depending on the age of your child and your family circumstances, you may be able to get some help towards the cost of early learning and childcare.

Click on the links below to find out more about options available

If you can't find what you're looking for or if you have any further questions, please phone the Children and Families Information Service on 03457 125 737 or email

Free Early Education for 2 Year Olds

Free Early Education for 3 & 4 Year Olds


The current universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 years olds will continue to be 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of early education.

The extended entitlement is an extension of the current entitlement and provides an additional 15 hours of free childcare for children where parents are eligible.

Extended Entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds (known as 30 hours)

In addition to the free early education for 2, 3 or 4 year olds there are other sources of help with the costs of childcare. These include:

For further information and to apply for help with the costs of childcare, please see the Childcare Choices website

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