Family matters: childcare

Two young children of mixed ethnicities hugging in a nursery

Nicky Hirsch, childcare manager at Islington Council on helping families get the support they need

Often people say to us, ‘I didn’t know I could go to my council to get help with my childcare’ – our really strong message is, you can. The council is here to give you information about what’s available and how to pay for it. We’re here Monday to Friday and when you call, you will speak to a person right away, or leave a message and we will call right back.

Islington subsidises a range of nurseries across the borough, meaning we fund them so that they can keep charges as low as possible. People pay according to their household income, which makes a huge difference to families, particularly those on lower incomes.

We have a childcare bursary that few local authorities have. It helps parents moving into employment or training while they get their feet under the table. We support people who are self-employed for slightly longer, as we appreciate their income is more variable.

There are also national schemes that can be used in combination with local support. We help people to understand what’s available and how to apply for it.

The Family Information Service is here to provide information services for the entire life of the family, from pre-birth to 25. We can help people who might struggle to access support, such as those with English as a second language. We have access to translation services and members of the team speak other languages.

We are very aware that families with special educational needs face particular challenges. We can work with them to find childcare that works for them.

Families often tell us that finding and paying for childcare is a barrier to them working. Talk it through with us – we are here to listen and to help.

There are still spaces available at council-managed nurseries. Visit the council website for more information.

For more information and advice about all childcare, activities and services for families, contact the Family Information Service (FIS) on 020 7527 5959, via email at or visit the Find your Islington directory.

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