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A childminder is a person (male or female) who looks after other people's children in the childminder's own home. The children can be aged from birth up to eight years old. The childminder looks after the children for more than 2 hours a day and is rewarded (usually in the form of money) for the service. If the person is looking after a relative (a grandchild or niece) it is not considered childminding.
Registered with Ofsted
All childminders by law have to be registered and assessed by Ofsted to meet all the requirements and standards set out by Government. The requirements refer to the safety of the premises, the facilities on offer, the suitability of the childminder to care for children, the play and learning opportunities. In addition, insurance provisions and business records are assessed. Checks are also made on all of the other members of the household.
How many children can a childminder look after?
There is a limit on the number of children a childminder can look after. A total of 6 children (including the childminder's own children) is the maximum. Of these, only 3 may be under school age, and only 1 may be under 1 year old. A childminder may have excemption that varies from this if for example they are asked to look after twins or triplets, but their certificate will lay down how many children they may care for at once, and they must display their certificate, in their home, whilst they are acting as a childminder.
How To Find A Childminder?
Word of mouth is a great way of finding a childminder. Friends, colleagues, other parents may have some good suggestions. Alternatively, contact your local Family Information Service for a list of childminders in your area.
There are also agencies and websites that list local vacancies and have a chat to your local Sure Start Centre for some ideas of local vacancies.
How To Choose A Childminder?
Visit a number of settings and talk about any questions you have. Mention your precise needs and make notes before you go if there is anything in particular you don't want to forget to ask.
How Much Is A Childminder?
Childminders are all self-employed and are responsible for their own income, expenses, equipment, tax and national insurance. They set their own rates and charges will therefore vary. You will need to discuss rates and agree the cost with your childminder.
You must sign a contract with your childminder stating:
- Overtime rates
- Non-attendance rates
- Notice period to leave
The contract should be signed by you and your childminder, dated and each of you should have a copy to keep.
Top Tips To Help Choose A Childminder:
- Take your child along and see how they react or settle in the childminder's setting
- Always go to a registered childminder
- Ask to see their registration and assessment documents
- Check their insurance
- Look closely at the areas your child will be based. Are there plug covers, no loose wires or cables? Is furniture in good condition and safe-looking? Are carpets clean and safely fitted? Is it fun and colourful?
- Are there lots of books and toys around?
- Do children there look happy, stimulated and busy?
- Ask about numbers of children and who else will be there?
- Ask about a typical day, about outings, about toddler groups or clubs they will go to
- Ask about discipline and how bad behaviour is dealt with
- Check emergency plans and risk assessments
- Ask about other playgroups and school runs the children do
- Discuss food, snacks and drinks; check the price for meal provision, how and where the food is served and the typical menu
- What are the payment terms for holidays, sick pay, overtime ?
- What happens when the childminder is sick or what if your child is sick?
- Enquire how often and in what form payment should be made
- Ask about pets and other people in the house. Can you meet them too?