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Baby's first year : Childminder

What is a childminder?

Any person who uses their home to care for children under the age of 8 for more than two hours a day for payment or other form of reward is called a childminder.

What are the benefits of using a childminder?

Some people prefer childminders over other childcare options because:

  • they provide a family environment
  • most childminders are flexible and work around your requirements
  • can be a continued form of childcare even when the child starts school

What does the term 'registered childminder' mean?

Registered childminders have satisfied the standards required by the Social Services Department in accordance with the Children Act 1989. These standards primarily are:

  • Personal health check
  • Police check on all adult members over the age of 16 in the household
  • Extensive training course relating to the business of childcare in the home
  • Personal assessment of applicant
  • Home must meet the required hygiene and safety standards

Is it necessary for all childminders to be registered?

Ofsted have now taken over this responsibility - childminders caring for under 8s must now register with Ofsted. Ofsted – Reports Homepage.

How many children is a childminder allowed to care for?

Childminders can care for up to six children under 8 years at any one time. Most childminders are registered for three children under 5 years of age and three children under 8 years at any one time. They are limited to one or two babies at one time.

This calculation of the number of children includes the childminder's own children, if any, as well. However, childminders who work with an assistant may look after larger groups of children.

How much does a childminder cost?

The cost varies and is agreed between you and the childminder. There is no national rate but most childminders will charge between £2.50 to £3.50 per child per hour for full-time care.

What questions should we ask the childminder before selecting one?

To decide which childminder is the best for your child or baby, it may be necessary to look around and visit as many childminders as available before you can find the one you and your child feel comfortable with. The following questions can be used as a guide in helping you reach an informed decision.

  • Is the childminder registered? You may ask to see their certificate or their inspection report
  • Who all live with the childminder and if possible, can you meet them?
  • Has the childminder looked after children before this?
  • How many other children does the childminder look after and what are their ages?
  • Do children with the childminder seem happy, content and involved in what they are doing?
  • Does the childminder have children of her own? If yes, what ages are they?
  • Is the childminder offering flexibility to suit your hours of need?
  • Is there any backup for the days when the childminder is sick?
  • Do you pay for the days your childminder is sick or on holiday and your child does not attend?
  • Do you pay for the days when your child is sick and doesn't attend?
  • Is there any fee for late pickup of children?
  • Is the childminder qualified for first aid, in case an emergency arises?
    (All Registered Childminders are required to undertake First Aid training at least every 3 years).
  • Is the house safe and comfortable for your child?
  • Are there any pets?
  • Is the house clean?
  • Is the house safe?
  • Is there an outside play area? If yes, is it safe?
  • What is the policy on smoking? (Previously Childminders previously were permitted to smoke in the presence of children only if the parents had given written consent. This has now changed - the standards now require that Childminders do not smoke in the presence of children).
  • What will be your child's routine with the childminder? How will you be informed of your child's activities for the day?
  • What type of food will be offered to your child?
  • Does the childminder take the children on outings? If yes, what precautions are followed?
  • What provision is there for children to sleep?
  • What provisions are there for nappy changing or bathroom?
  • Is there enough space for your child to move around and play?
  • Are there plenty of different toys and activities for children to play with?
  • What is the childminder's method of correcting unacceptable or difficult bahaviour?

Are there any contracts with a childminder?

It is advisable to have a written contract with your childminder detailing the arrangements for cost, pickup and all other permissions (like outings, food etc.) Apart from being the foundation of a good realtionship, it prevents any misunderstandings later on.

Both you and the childminder should have a signed copy each of the contract between the two of you.

What information about our child is the childminder required to hold by law?

By law, your childminder must have the following information:

  • Child's details: name, date of birth, address
  • Your details: name, place of work, telephone numbers where you can be contacted
  • Medical information: Child's GP's name, health information, details of medication used

You may wish to give additional information about yourself or the child to help your child settle in comfortably.

What if I'm not satisfied with the level of care being provided by the childminder?

If there is a written contract between the two parties, it is easier to resolve misunderstandings and disagreements. If you have any concerns with your childminder, try to resolve them mutually first. If the situation does not clear up or if you're still not satisfied with the childcare being provided or feel that your child is being discriminated against, then it is time to take action. All childminders are now required to keep a record of complaints. Parents should contact Ofsted 0845 601 4772 if they are dissatisfied with the quality of care received.

How do I find a registered childminder in my area?

Vacancy lists are now held by the Children's Information Service:

You can also advertise in the local newspaper.

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