Choosing childcare for your deaf child

An early years deaf girl paints a picture.

Finding and choosing childcare that works for you and your child can be challenging for any parent. But as a parent of a deaf child, there are some other issues you’ll need to think about. For example: 

  • Is the childcare deaf-friendly, welcoming and inclusive?
  • Will they be able to help develop your child’s language and communication skills?
  • Do they have a good listening environment, with as little background noise as possible, where your child can listen, learn and socialise?
  • Are they happy to learn skills to support your child as needed such as how your child’s hearing technology works or learning sign language?
  • Are they willing to build an ongoing relationship with you – working closely together – to support your child’s development?

The following information and our resource: Choosing Childcare for Your Deaf Child: A checklist will help you to feel more confident about choosing the right childcare for your child.

Your options

Depending on where you live, there will be different childcare options available including:  

  • nurseries – some may be part of a primary school or (in England) a Sure Start Children’s Centre  They may also be run by the local authority or privately run. 
  • pre-schools and playgroups
  • childminders
  • nannies, au pairs or home carers
  • family and friends.

In some areas, there may be specialist childcare aimed at deaf or disabled children.

Finding a childcare provider in your area

Each local or education authority should have a Family or Childcare Information Service which lists the childcare options in your area. The Family and Childcare Trust website provides links to Family Information Services across the UK.

If you live in England, each local authority must also produce a Local Offer with information about support to families of children with special educational needs and disabilities. This should include information about childcare options for your child.

You can also ask for suggestions and advice from: 

  • your child’s Teacher of the Deaf or from your local specialist education service for deaf children
  • other parents of deaf children in your area.

Tips for choosing childcare

  • Try to visit a range of childcare, ideally with your child. Use our checklists to make notes and help you compare.
  • Involve friends and family – ask if they can come with you on your visits to help you decide. Ask for references from at least two other parents.
  • Check that the childcare provider is of good quality. Childminders should be registered and nannies can sometimes volunteer to do so. In most cases, you can look up inspection reports for a nursery, pre-school or childminder.
  • Share our Supporting the Achievement of Hearing Impaired Children in Early Years Settings resource to help the childcare provider understand how best to support your child.
  • Create a personal passport with information about your child’s needs to share with staff. This is a document that brings together all the most important information about your child so that any adult caring for them or working with them can support your child in the best way possible.You can include details of your child's deafness, how they communicate, if they use any hearing technology, tips on communicating with them and so on.

Find out what your rights are

Knowing what your legal rights are can help you make sure that you and your child get the support you need. Sometimes, just showing that you’re aware of your rights can quickly nip any problems in the bud.

Watch our video: My deaf child and going to nursery

In this video Toby's mum, Emma, talks about her worries when Toby started nursery, and how his Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) worked with the nursery to make sure Toby got the best possible support.