What is a childminder?
- A childminder works from their own home, looking after children of any age including before and after school and in the school holidays.
- They can choose to open different times usually somewhere between 7am and 7pm for most of the year and are able to offer places quite flexibly.
- If they are paid to look after any children under 8 years old, for more than 2 hours a day they must register with Ofsted or a childminder agency and be inspected regularly to ensure they are meeting the minimum standards to provide a safe and suitable environment and have a current child First Aid certificate.
- Checks are also carried out on all other people in the house 16 years or over.
- They offer a range of activities / outings and some go to local groups so your child can play with children their age.
- Some childminders work with assistants too.
How much do childminders charge?
Childminders are self-employed and can set their own fees - you may be able to get help with your childcare costs. As part of being registered, they must provide a written agreement with the parent to cover:
- Hours, Fees (what is included in the fee e.g. meals, drinks, snacks, nappies, outings, playgroup fees) and payment dates.
- Overtime/emergency cover fees.
- Fees for holidays and sickness for both your child and them.
- Notice period to be given for both changes to the contract and to end the contract (four weeks is a reasonable notice period for both parent and childminder).
- The contract should be signed by you and the childminder and reviewed when changes are needed.
How do I find a childminder?
You can look for any type of childcare provider by using our simple Childcare Finder. You can also contact our Families Information Service using the details on the right-hand side of this page.
Some things to consider:
- Always use a registered childminder - ask to see their certificate.
- Take your child with you when you visit. How do they react to the childminder? How does the carer react towards your child?
- If there are children there, are they happy and busy?
- Do they have up to date public liability insurance? Ask to see proof of this. They also need to have Business Use car insurance.
- How many other children do they look after, how old are they and how long have they been looking after them?
- What training or experience do they have - can you obtain references (e.g. from another parent)?
- Who else is in the house when your child is there - can you meet them?
- How would the childminder deal with difficult behaviour?
- What plans do they have in the event of an emergency?
- Do they have risk assessments and policies in place?
- What happens if your child or the childminder is ill?
- Can the childminder take/collect your child to/from school? If they do, how many other children do they take/collect from school?
- how many schools do they cover? Will the children walk or be transported?
- Are snacks, drinks and meals provided? Are they healthy, nutritious and varied?
- What is the space like? Is there room inside and outside to play?
- Are there toys and books around?
- Does the childminder take the children out (on visits, shopping, to the library, to a toddler group)?
- How do they ensure the children in their care are treated equally?
- Does the childminder’s service take into account children’s ages, cultural background and any special needs?
- Do you need to provide any equipment, e.g. a buggy or a car safety seat?
- Are there any pets that the children will come into contact with?
- Does the childminder drive?
- Do they have regular activities planned?
Note: Copies of individual childminders’ or agencies' recent Ofsted inspection reports are shown on Ofsted’s website. Ask to see a copy when you visit.