How we inspect childcare and play services

Information and guidance about how we inspect childcare and play services.

From April 2016 we changed the way we inspect child minding, day care and open access play and the frequency of our inspections.

Reference to ‘Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales’ (CSSIW) in the documents on this page should be read as ‘Care Inspectorate Wales'.

  • What is different?

    • Inspectors will spend more time at a care service
    • Changes to the frequency of our inspections
    • Introduction of ratings

  • What we check and report

    When our inspectors visit a care service, they will consider four core themes:

    • Well-being
    • Care and Development
    • Environment
    • Leadership and Management

  • How often we inspect

    We have two types of inspections: full and focused.

    Full inspections

    These are routine inspections, planned as part of our inspection schedule. Full inspections take place approximately six months after a newly registered service becomes operational. After that, we inspect:

    • Full day care services at least once in every two years
    • Other childcare services  for example, child minders, sessional day care, open access play, crèches and out of school care - at least once in every three years

    Focused inspections

    These normally happen when concerns are raised or to follow up on areas of improvement identified at previous inspections. These inspections may only look at some aspects of a service.

    All our inspections are unannounced, however for child minders and open access play, we will normally telephone you one week before we intend to inspect. This is to check your availability and operating times. This means we avoid missing visits.

    If we have tried to contact you but have not been able to speak to anyone, then the inspection will go ahead without prior discussion. However, it is your responsibility to let us know of any changes in your days and/or hours of operating. We will inspect any service at any time, especially where concerns have been raised.

  • Self Assessment of Service Statement (SASS) and annual quality review of care

    Each year you will be required to send us:

    • a Self Assessment of Service Statement (SASS) and,
    • a review of the quality of care at the service.

    More information is available from our SASS page.

  • Introduction of ratings

    We plan to introduce ratings beginning with full day care and sessional day care services in 2018, and other services from 2019. We will be awarding a rating against each of the four inspection themes:

    • Excellent
    • Good
    • Adequate
    • Poor

    To prepare for our introduction of ratings your inspector will talk to you at your next inspection about the quality of your service. They will advise you of the rating they would consider for each of the four themes. This initial rating of your service will be informal. This means inspectors will not record the rating in your inspection report. Your inspection report will outline the quality of the care we found and how this contributes to the well-being outcomes for children you look after or care for.

    Future inspections will record ratings in the inspection report for your service.

  • Help for providers

    We have produced an inspection guide for child minders and daycare and play providers. We have also produced a tool for open access play providers when assessing staff ratios.

  • Joint pilot inspection with Estyn

    We are also working with Estyn on a joint pilot inspection for services that are funded by local authorities for the education of 3-4 year olds.


Download documents

On this site

How we enforce

What action we will take if a care provider does not meet the requirements and conditions of their registration

Changing the way we inspect

We are developing new inspection frameworks for the services we regulate and local authority social services inspections

Concerns about care? Please let us know if you have any concerns about us, a service, or a member of care staff. Raise a concern