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Coronavirus | Updates, advice and resources for families and practitioners

Choosing a childminder

The facts

  • Registered childminders look after your child along with other children, usually in their own home.
  • They are usually allowed to care for up to six children under the age of eight, including their own - but only three of them can be aged under five. They may be able to care for more with the support of a Childminding Assistant
  • They are self-employed, which means that they decide on working hours and fees. Some childminders are willing to work early mornings, evenings and weekends, as well as part-time.
  • All childminders are required to attend training before being registered and also go on to complete a first aid course. Once registered, they can attend courses on a wide range of issues relevant to their work with children. Some childminders hold childcare qualifications or are working towards them.
  • Like day nurseries and pre-schools, childminders plan your child's day to include learning and development activities based on the Early Years Foundation Stage.

How can I be sure of good quality care?

Childminders must be registered and inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) or a registered Childminding Agency, who carry out regular checks on the home and childminder. What's more, all adults (16+) living and working in the childminder's home will be police checked. Once you've met and interviewed a childminder, you will get a feel for whether they are suitable for your children.

What will it cost me?

You will need to negotiate hours, terms and conditions with your childminder. There are no set fees - childminders are self-employed and set their own rates. Families Information Direct can give you more information about average charges in Redbridge.

Is it for me?

  • I want my child to be cared for in a family home.
  • I want my child to have one consistent carer.
  • I have children of different ages and it's important they're cared for together.
  • I need flexible care because I work irregular hours which a day nursery may not be able to provide.
  • Mixing with large groups of children isn't a priority right now - but I may want the childminder to take my child to a pre-school or nursery class for part of the day in the future.

Things that childminders must have in place

The following are mandatory for all registered childminders and you should check that these are in place before using a childminder:

  • Ofsted registration certificate (where registered with Ofsted) - this must be displayed when children are being looked after. It will include their Ofsted registration number, which you can use to look at a childminder's past inspections on
  • Valid first aid certificate - childminders must have a valid Paediatric First Aid Certificate which must be renewed every 3 years - regardless of whether they are currently caring for children
  • Childminders must also have the right insurance in place and display their insurance certificate when caring for children. They should have Public Liability Insurance in place as well as ensuring they have the right insurance in place if they are going to transport your child(ren) in their vehicle. Againk, childminders must have this in place regardless of whether they are currently caring for children

Questions to ask your childminder

  • What training have you done? (childminders should keep up to date with training on all sorts of subjects such as safeguarding, food hygiene, and the Early Years Foundation Stage - you can ask a childminder to see training certificates to evidence what they have completed)
  • How long have you been childminding?
  • Why do you like this job?
  • How long do you intend to do it for?
  • What other children will be with my child, and how old are they?
  • Can you show me references and can I have the phone numbers of other parents you work for so I can speak to them?
  • Do you belong to a childminder network?
  • Do you charge for sick days?
  • Ask to see the rooms in the house where your child will spend any time - are they clean and tidy?
  • Where will my child sleep? Is there a bed or cot available? Is it quiet?
  • How do you spend the day and how do the other children's schedules fit in with my child? Find out simple things, such as when she or he does shopping / banking / chores.
  • Do you go out on day trips? Where to?
  • Do you have properly fitted car seats?
  • What kind of meals and drinks do you give the children?
  • Do you keep a file about a child's progress?
  • Will you agree to a trial run (say a couple of mornings) to see how it's going to work out? Most childminders will agree to this.

Also remember...

  • Check all rooms and the garden are insured; otherwise your child will be excluded from those areas.
  • Who is coming and going? Ask how many other adults will be in the house.
  • Agree on feeding, learning, watching TV and discipline policies.
  • You must have a contract between you and the childminder that should cover hours, pay, sickness, time off and holiday pay. You should set up one agreement that covers the settling-in period and then set up another contract following this. This is so that if your child doesn't settle or one of you realise that the arrangement isn't going to work you are not tied into too long a notice period.
  • Ask to look at the OfSTED inspection report.

Childminding Networks

Childminders who are part of a Childminding Network receive regular monitoring and support from a dedicated Network Co-ordinator. For more information about childminding networks please contact Families Information Direct.

For a printed version of this leaflet please contact FiND.

This information has been adapted from the DfES Booklet 'Looking for Childcare'.

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