Childcare Contracts and Complaints

Reading Family Information Service

Your contract with your childcare provider

Before your child starts at a childcare setting you will need to sign a contract with your chosen childcare provider e.g. childminder, pre-school day nursery etc. Signing a contract with a childcare provider is a legally binding document, which will ensure both parties are clear on the service the provider is offering and the parents are receiving.

Before signing any contract, make sure you have read the terms and conditions and fully understood the content of the contract. If you are unsure please consult the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Make sure when you have signed the contract, that you receive a copy from the provider, at the time that you have signed it, and keep a copy safe for future reference.

You may have found a provider that you like, however may not need the place until a later date. You can make a verbal agreement with the childcare provider to reserve a place, although a contract may not have been signed. You may be asked to pay a retainer fee to secure the place. In these circumstances make sure you obtain some written notification from the provider that you are securing the place.


Making a complaint about a childcare provider

Occasionally parents, practitioners and other people with an interest in childcare have complaints or concerns about the quality of a registered childcare service or childminder. Ofsted can look into any matter related to the requirements of registration. They will also look into concerns about people providing childcare who are not registered with Ofsted as a childcare provider. Ofsted cannot deal with other issues you may have, such as disputes about contracts and fees.

Talk to your childcare provider

Unless you think children are at risk of harm from the childcare provider (safe guarding issue) it is usually best if you discuss your concerns with the childcare provider or the person in charge before you contact Ofsted. If you are a parent or carer and cannot sort out your concern through discussion, you can make a formal complaint in writing to the provider. The law says that providers must have a process for handling written complaints. Home childcarers do not need to have this process.

Informing Ofsted

Prior to contacting Ofsted, you may find it useful to work out what you want to say and make a note of any relevant people, times and dates. Inform Ofsted if you have already discussed the matter with the provider and any actions that have taken place.

Please visit - Ofsted Complaints Procedure

Email contact -

Enquiries Tel - 0300 123 1231   Childcare Provider Complaint Tel:0300 123 4666 


If you have a safeguarding concern (safety of a child or young person at risk of harm)

If you are concerned a child or young person is at risk of harm then please use the contact numbers below to report your concern.


Children's Single Point of Access - 0118 937 3641 (Office hours only)

Out of Hours Emergency Duty Team - 01344 786543

Police - 999


Next review date June 2024

Related Advice

Out Of School Care Pre-Schools Day Nurseries Childminders 2 Year Old Education & Childcare Funding Childcare - Frequently Asked Questions

Page last reviewed: 12/06/2023

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