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.

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Families Information Service

Telephone helpline : 01274 437503
Polish/Slovak/Czech Helpline : 01274 434905
Urdu/Punjabi Helpline : 01274 431252
Mobile : Text 'Childcare' to 07781472076 and we will call you back within 5 working days
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