What is a childminder?
A childminder is a childcare professional who works from their own home, looking after children of any age. If they care for children under 8 years old, for more than 2 hours a day, and receive a reward for this service (in money or in kind), they are required by law to be registered with Ofsted or a childminder agency.
What are the advantages of using a childminder?
- Your child will be in a home environment
- Childminders can work flexible hours (often outside of the standard 8am — 6pm day)
- More one to one care
- If you have children of different ages a childminder may be able to care for them together (most will be willing to care for children from a few months old until secondary school age)
- Support can be provided to the family for years as the child grows up (many will do ‘school runs’ and provide before school and after school care)
- Tax credits and Employer Supported Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay for childcare.
How much do childminders charge?
Childminders are usually self-employed and therefore their fees will vary. However, they usually charge by the hour.
What checks are carried out on childminders?
Childminders are required to register with Ofsted or a childminder agency and are currently inspected every 3-4 years to ensure they are meeting the minimum standards to provide a safe and suitable environment. Registration involves them having a Disclosure and Barring Service check, a health check and Social Services check. Checks are also carried out on all other members of the household that are aged 16 years or over. Childminders have to have a current paediatric First Aid certificate in order to practice. "Childminders must have completed training which helps them to understand and implement the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) before they can register with Ofsted or an agency" (Statutory framework for the EYFS, March, 2014). Many have extensive childcare qualifications.
How many children can a childminder look after?
"At any one time, a childminder may care for a maximum of six children under the age of eight (including their own children). Of these six, a maximum of three may be young children. A child is a young child up until the 1st September following their fifth birthday. Any care provided for older children must not adversely affect the care of children receiving early years provision" (Statutory framework for the EYFS, March, 2014).
How do I find a childminder?
You can search for childminders in your area using the search page on this website
A list of registered childminders in Bradford is also available from Bradford Families Information Service. The list includes details such as their opening hours, costs, schools that the childminder can drop off/pick up from, contact details so that you can contact them directly and find out anything else you want.
How do I choose a childminder?
Try to visit several childminders before you choose to see if the service they are offering suits your and your child’s needs. Take a list of questions that you would like to ask and make notes when you visit. This will help you make your choice and get your relationship with the childminder off to an organised and professional start.
What if my child or my childminder is ill?
If your child is ill and does not go to the childminder, you would normally pay as usual. If the childminder is ill and there is no service available, you would not normally have to pay. Again, this may vary and should be agreed with the childminder as part of the childminding contract.
Will my child be eligible for the Early Education Fund?
Some registered childminders can provide early years education and receive the funding for three and four year olds and eligible two year olds. This will pay for 15 hour sessions with the childminder. Ask the childminder if they are registered for this funding.
What if my child has a disability or additional needs?
Discuss this with prospective childminders. Bradford Families Information Service may be able to provide further information.
Points to consider about fees:
- When do you need to pay?
- Are meals, drinks, snacks, nappies, outings, playgroup fees etc included, or is there an extra charge for these?
- What happens when you or the childminder have a holiday?
- What happens if your child or childminder is ill?
- Can they work overtime or provide emergency cover? If so, what is the charge?
- Do they accept Employer Supported Childcare Vouchers? These can be purchased from your employer, with a tax and national insurance saving to yourself, if your employer is participating in a voucher scheme.
- Does the childminder charge a fee?
Will I receive a childminder contract?
It is a requirement of registration that the childminder has some kind of contract or written agreement with the parent/s of the children they look after. This would cover:
- Hours, Fees (and what is included in the fee), Overtime rates, Fees for non-attendance (including holidays and sickness for both the child and the carer), Agreement made regarding any retainer payment, 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 agreed, signed and dated by the parent/s and the childminder, and each of you should keep a copy. It should be reviewed at regular intervals (say once or twice a year) to respond to any changes. The childminder should be able to provide you with a sample copy of the contract they use.
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, and
- 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.
If I have any concerns or worries what do I do?
Discuss any difficulties with your childminder as soon as they arise — often a lack of communication leads to misunderstandings which can easily be avoided. Keep the carer informed of any changes in your or your child’s routine. Ensure that your childminder is kept updated with the contact details for your workplace, doctor or health visitor and has an emergency contact number. If you are unable to resolve your difficulties with a childminder and they relate to the quality of care, you can contact Ofsted’s complaints line or the registering agency.
Note: Ofsted will not get involved in disputes over fees or contracts — it is important to ensure that the contract clearly states what has been agreed and that both parties are happy with the contract.