Childminders are professionals who provide care and early education for children within the childminder’s home. This can be a rewarding career.
Working at home provides childminders with flexibility to determine their own working hours and has the added benefit of enabling them to look after their own children at the same time if required.There is a legal requirement to be either:
- registered independently with Ofsted or
- registered with an Oftsed registered childminder agency
Independently registered childminders
Registration is required if childminders are caring for any child under the age of 8 years for 2 hours or more in any one day for reward. Independently Ofsted registered childminders are self-employed and have the freedom to create their own working patterns and set fees according to hours and services they provide.
If you choose to become an independently registered childminder you will be fully supported by your local authority. They will guide you through the registration process and offer continued advice, support and professional development once you are registered with Ofsted. There may be a cost for support. Ask your local authority for details (see contacts at end of this page).
Independently registered childminders will receive an initial registration visit from Ofsted and will be inspected by Ofsted at least once in each round of inspections (a round is four years long). A quality judgement will be given by Ofsted following inspection. Ofsted grade inspections as: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate outcomes. Your first graded inspection will be within 30 months of registration.
Childminders registered with a childminder agency
If you choose to join a childminder agency you will be fully supported through the agency registration process and will receive ongoing support and professional development by the agency. Agencies will charge for this service and costs may vary depending on services delivered. Some may register self-employed childminders and charge a fee; others may directly employ childminders and pay them a wage.
Agencies may wish to determine which hours you operate and set the parental fees for your service. Visit the Childminding section on the Foundation Years website for more information.
Whichever registration route you decide upon, you will be required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework, (EYFS) which sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to the 31st August after the child’s fifth birthday.
You will be responsible for creating a safe and stimulating home learning environment, within your own home and providing support for individual children in order for them to reach their full developmental potential.
As a childminder you will be able to take advantage of a home-based setting, routines, activities and the wider outdoor environment to support children’s learning i.e. trips to the library or park.
How many children can childminders care for?
As a registered childminder you may care for a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8 years at any one time. This includes family members within the age band i.e. your own children or grandchildren under 8. Up to 3 of these children may be under the age of 5 years and only 1 child can be under the age of 1 year. There are some exceptions to this rule and they are explained with the EYFS (section 3 page 26-27).
You may choose to work with another childminder or assistants which may enable you to care for larger numbers of children.
You may also care for children over the age of 8 years as long as their care does not adversely affect the care of the younger children.
You may choose to look after children over the age of 8 years only. In these cases there is no requirement to register with Ofsted, although there is an option to register on the Voluntary Childcare Register (VCR). This demonstrates to parents that you are suitable to provide care for children and enables parents to access funding to help with childcare costs (e.g. Tax Credits, Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare). If you chose to look after children in their own homes as a nanny or au-pair you will also have the option of joining the VCR as a Home Childcarer.
Requirements for independently registered childminders can be found within the EYFS and also in the Early years and childcare registration handbook
Agency childminder registration processes may vary and you are advised to contact your preferred agency for information.
All childminders will be required to undergo health checks. Disclosure and Barring checks with live updates will also be undertaken prior to registration, including for anyone aged 16 years old or over in your household.
You will be required to undertake pre-registration, safeguarding and paediatric first aid training as part of your registration process with Ofsted or an agency. Safeguarding training should be compliant with the requirements of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
Free early education funding
For all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds, there is an entitlement of up to 15 hours per week of free early education available through government funding and they could be eligible for up to 30 hours if they work. Childminders can access this funding by registering on their local authority’s Early Education Funding Directory. All childminders with an Ofsted inspection outcome of Requires Improvement, Good or Outstanding and newly registered childminders awaiting inspection may provide funded places for 3 and 4 year olds. Generally, only those with a Good or Outstanding outcome (or who have not yet had a first inspection) may provide funded places for 2 year olds.
Agency registered childminders may receive free early education funding direct from the local authority or it may be paid to the agency for dissemination to their childminders. In this case the agency has a responsibility to ensure that none of the funding is retained for use by the agency.
Tax-Free Childcare is available to eligible working parents of children aged up to 12 (17 if the child is disabled). Childcare providers have to sign-up to receive payments via this scheme. See the gov.uk website for more details.
It's beneficial for your business to ensure parents are aware of the full range of funding options available to reduce the costs of their childcare. This Government website gives a good overview of all options: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
What shall I do next?
View Ofsted information
Ofsted's pre-registration briefing presentation explains Ofsted and the local authorities roles and aims, as well as ‘what childminding is’, who needs to register, who may not be able to register and how to register on the Early Years or Childcare Registers.
Do some research
It is advisable to assess whether there is a demand for childminders within your local area before you start the process of registration. This will determine whether a new childminding business is viable. Your local authority will be able to provide further support to help you conduct this research. They will also publish a childcare sufficiency review on their website. Searching the Family Information Directory of the Local Authority you are located within will give you a good idea of what other childcare is available in your area:
Support from your council
Your local council can provide you with information and advice about becoming a registered childminder or joining a childminder agency. They will also give you information on support available from your council during pre-registration and throughout your childminding career. Contacts for each area below.
Bournemouth,Christchurch and Poole (BCP Council)
Wider Dorset (Dorset Council)