This article provides information about registered childminders including how to find one, how much childminders typically charge, questions to ask a childminder and more.
A childminder is a person who is paid to look after one or more children, under the age of eight, for more than a total of two hours day. They will normally do this in their own home. They are most popular amongst families looking for a more homely setting and a flexible approach that can fit in with their own working hours.
All childminders in England now have to be registered with Ofsted, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) in Wales. To qualify for this they must complete a first aid course and a local authority-approved childminder training course.
They can be registered to look after up to six children under the age of eight, including their own children. Of these six, only three can be under the age of five years and only one less than one year old (although exceptions can be made in the instance of twins etc).
How much does a childminder cost?
Childminders set their own rates and these can vary throughout the country. If you go to your local council’s website, they may have information on current rates for childminders in your area.
Why is it important for your childminder to be inspected?
Your childminder will be inspected at least once every three years to make sure they continue to offer good quality care and are following the Early Years Foundation Stage. As long as you have a registered childminder, you can be reassured that:
- They have completed an approved training course (including children’s first aid);
- Their house has been assessed for suitability, and
- Any other adults living there have been background checked.
If they’ve also chosen to join a ‘quality assurance scheme’ run by your local council or the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), they will also undergo additional training and regular visits.
Registered childminders and The Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for learning development and care for children from birth to five years of age. It covers all aspects of your child’s welfare including learning and development. All childcare providers registered with Ofsted follow this curriculum. In plain English, this means that you can expect your child’s development to be aided by creative play and activities.
Why choose a childminder?
- They are more likely to be able to fit around your hours.
- You get to know the person who will be looking after your child.
- Continuity of, and more personal, care – no staff turnover to consider.
- You can gauge their values and see if they match your own.
- You can ask them about their approach to routines and discipline– how will they reward, how will they discourage?
- Depending on how many other children the childminder has and the ages of the other children, your child may end up with one-on-one attention.
- The needs of a child with a disability or special needs are more likely to be met.
- They provide a home setting, rather than school-like one.
- More flexible setting – plans can often be altered to suit your child’s mood/needs.
How to find and choose a childminder in the UK
- Word of mouth – talk to other local parents about their choices
- Visit the Government website to find a local list of registered childminders.
- Look up a childminders latest Ofsted report.
Questions to ask a childminder before you get started
- Will they charge if your child is ill or on holiday?
- What’s included in their costs: meals, nappies, days out?
- What happens if the childminder – or any of her children – are ill?
- Do they cover Bank Holidays or will they charge for Bank Holidays if you don’t need childcare?
Be sure to request a contract. This will make clear both your expectations and what your childminder is willing (and able) to do. I.e. what hours your child will be cared for, what rates you will pay, additional costs for meals or activities, holiday arrangements and what will be done regarding emergency cover.
You may want to visit two or three childminders before making a decision. Look around their house, and see what toys, books and equipment your child will be playing with. Are they clean? Does it all look safe? Perhaps take your child along with you and see how they are welcomed into the group. As with most things your instinct will guide you.
Our helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area and see what NCT activities are happening nearby.
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Childcare must be registered with Ofsted (England), the Care Inspectorate Scotland and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).
Information on the Early Years Foundation Stage can be found here.