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Childminding can be an extremely rewarding career. Not only do you spend your day nurturing little ones, but your role in their lives is extremely important. A childminder is responsible for stimulating the minds of the children in their care, encouraging educational, behavioural, and social learning, encouraging their creativity and social imagination, helping them to understand and manage social relationships and aiding their individual development.
Additionally, a childminder can also be responsible for feeding the children, looking after their personal care and hygiene, recording development and liaising with parents.
Although childminding is usually done in the comfort of your own home, it is far from easy. However, in 2019, there were 39,000 childminders registered in the UK, showing just how rewarding this career choice can be.
If you love children and feel you could provide a safe, high quality, fun and educational environment for them, this could be the perfect career choice for you. Let’s take a look at how to become a childminder in your own home.
The legal definition of a childminder is an individual who works with children for a minimum of two hours per day. This will be done in their own home and the individual will receive some financial reward. The process of becoming a childminder is not as easy as some people may think and there are several legal requirements for a childminder to consider.
As you cannot register or begin working as a childminder without fulfilling these requirements, we will examine the legal requirements first. The first thing you will need to do is register with the governing body of the country you live in. For childminders living in England, this is Ofsted. If you live in Scotland, you will also be required to register with ‘Care Inspectorate’ and childminders living in Wales must register with ‘Care Inspectorate Wales’.
The way in which you register with Ofsted changes, depending on the ages of the children in your care. For children in Reception or younger, it is compulsory for you to register on the Early Years Register. For children aged 5-7, it is compulsory to register on the Childcare Register. For children aged 8 and above, it is voluntary to register on the Childcare Register.
Once you have registered with the relevant government body, you will need to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for yourself, and anyone aged over 16 who lives in your house. Even if those living in your house will never come into contact with the children in your care, it is still essential that they have a clear DBS check. Furthermore, if anyone over the age of 16 is a frequent visitor to your house, they must also conduct a DBS check.
There are several other mandatory training requirements that a childminder needs to have in order to begin working with children.
Below is a checklist of all the legal requirements you must fulfil:
- Clear DBS checks.
- A certificate from Ofsted stating that you meet the requirements set out in the EYFS.
- Registration on the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register.
- Paediatric First Aid course.
- Introduction to Childcare Practice course.
- Introductory EYFS training.
- Health Declaration Form.
- Safeguarding training.
- Food Hygiene course if you will be preparing or serving food.
- Appropriate insurance such as Public Liability Insurance.
- Evidence that your home is safe and appropriate for children.
- Safety equipment such as a working fire alarm and fire control equipment.
- Fully functional first aid kit.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Childminder?
Although the amount of time it takes to become fully registered can vary depending on individual circumstances, typically it takes up to 12 weeks to be registered with Ofsted. During this time, Ofsted will visit your premises to conduct their assessment. If any problems arise during this assessment, this can delay your application process.
During their inspection, Ofsted will also ask to see your DBS certificate. As a childminder has direct, unsupervised access to children, they will be required to apply for an enhanced DBS check rather than a standard check. An enhanced check can take anywhere up to eight weeks.
However, during busier times, it may take even longer. Nearly six million DBS checks are carried out every year, with certain times of year more popular than others. You should therefore ensure you have your DBS certificate before arranging an assessment with Ofsted, to prevent further delays.
You also need to ensure you have all the correct certificates, such as Paediatric First Aid, Safeguarding and Food Hygiene, as well as the appropriate insurance coverage. Failure to fulfil all these requirements may result in your application being delayed.
There are several start-up costs to consider for a childminder. To help new childminders effectively plan their budget, the list below details all the costs and how frequently you will be required to pay them.
- Registration Fee – The registration fees vary depending on the age of the children you will be caring for. The Early Years Register (for children aged five and under) has a registration fee of £35. The Childcare Register (for children over the age of five) has a registration fee of £103. This is a one-off payment.
- DBS Disclosure – The cost for an enhanced DBS check is currently £40. Remember, you will need a separate check for every person aged over 16 living in your home. Childminders are recommended to renew their DBS check every 1-3 years, so factor this into your annual budget.
- Medical Check (Health Declaration Form) – You will have to receive a health check from your doctor to confirm that there are no medical issues that would affect your ability to care for children. Your doctor will have to complete the Health Declaration Form (previously the Health Declaration Booklet) and send it to Ofsted. The cost of this varies depending on your GP so it is best to contact them directly. To read more information about what the medical check entails and what you and your GP must do.
- Paediatric First Aid Training – You need to complete a first aid course specific to children. This course should involve a minimum of 12 hours of first aid training. The cost can vary depending on your area and the availability of the course, but you should expect to pay £50-£200. You will need to update your first aid training every three years.
- Safeguarding Training – Most local authorities require new childminders to obtain safeguarding training. This training can be done online and cost as little as £20. This should be updated every three years.
- Introductory EYFS Training – Unless you currently hold a qualification in early years, you will need to complete an introductory course. The course will educate you in vital aspects such as understanding and implementing EYFS, recording development and developing children’s learning. The cost of this course can vary but expect to pay £50-£200.
- Other Training Requirements – The other certificates you may require can vary but may include Food Hygiene, Fire Safety, and Introduction to Childcare Practice. If any of the children in your care have additional needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Dyspraxia, you may want to obtain additional training to ensure you are fully meeting their needs. Each of these certificates varies in cost but usually begin at £20.
- Insurance – You will need to obtain Public Liability Insurance which can vary in cost from £25-£100. If you plan to transport children in your car, you will also need to upgrade your car insurance.
- Resources, Equipment and Repairs – There are a lot of different resources you will need to purchase before beginning your childminding. These can vary depending on the age of the children. Some of the resources and equipment will be mandatory and others are optional but will be more attractive to parents and may make your business more successful. Resources you will need to purchase may include car seats, baby feeding chairs, changing mats, first aid kit, child-friendly eating and drinking accessories, safety gates, toys, games and books. Factor in the cost of repairing or replacing any resources in your annual budget.
Previously childminders were able to access a Childcare Business Grant. However, this grant ended in 2019, with no current plans to restart the grant. It is possible to access start-up loans from the government, but for those looking for a grant, the following options are available to you:
National Enterprise Network (NEN)
The NEN offers its members representation, promotion and connections to help promote your business. They can offer advice on how to manage your start-up costs and how to access any grants or loans that may be available to you.
The Prince’s Trust
If you are below the age of 30, the Prince’s Trust offers funding and advice to help you open your childminding business. They can also award a grant to pay for any training or courses you need.
New Enterprise Allowance
If you are currently unemployed and are looking to open your own business, you can receive mentoring and an allowance worth up to £1300 to help support you financially while you launch your business.
SEN Inclusion Funding
If any of the children in your care have an SEN diagnosis or are in need of additional support, you can apply for additional funding. You can receive funding up to a maximum of 15 hours for a child up to two years old or 30 hours for a child aged 3-4 years old. You should contact your local authority for more information about completing an application.
There are other grants available, but these vary depending on where you are located. To view a complete list of available government grants in your area, click here.
Ofsted Inspections and Checks
Once you have registered with Ofsted, an inspector will visit your home to conduct an inspection. This is called a registration inspection.
During the registration inspection, the inspector will check:
- Proof of identity and proof of address.
- Proof of any name change.
- DBS certificates for you and anyone aged over 16 living in your house.
- Your first aid certificate and any other training certificates you need to provide.
- EY2 Form (you will have completed this when you first applied to Ofsted).
- A completed risk assessment for your home, garden, equipment and resources.
- The suitability and range of equipment and resources.
- Your suitability to provide childcare.
- Your ability to follow the EYFS framework for learning and development.
- Your ability to follow safeguarding practices and meet well-being and welfare requirements.
Once the visit has been completed, you will be awarded a result of ‘Met’ or ‘Not Met’. If you were awarded ‘Met’ you will then receive your registration certificate in the post.
Once you have been approved by Ofsted and have begun working as a childminder, you should expect to receive another visit within the first 30 months. Following this, Ofsted will carry out another inspection within a six-year window.
In September 2019, Ofsted changed its framework for inspecting childminders. ‘The Common Inspection Framework’ was replaced by the ‘Education Inspection Framework’.
During their visit, the inspector will be focusing on:
- Quality of education – They will look at whether you are meeting the seven areas of the curriculum. They will also want to see your two-year progress checks for each child and evidence of your teaching, learning and assessments.
- Behaviour and attitudes – How you support positive behaviour and encourage positive attitudes to learning. They may also look at how you address behaviour that challenges.
- Personal and emotional development – The inspector may look at things such as potty training, healthy eating and physical abilities.
- Leadership and management – They will look at your expectations of what the children can achieve and the standards of provision and care.
To determine how well you are meeting the criteria set out in the Education Inspection Framework, Ofsted will observe the children independently and your interactions with the children.
They will also talk to the children and their parents, check the children’s abilities, knowledge, skills, and their understanding of the learning, observe their participation in activities, observe the children’s personal development and examine how well you are meeting their physical needs. Ofsted will also want you to demonstrate your knowledge of the framework and EYFS and will likely have some questions for you to answer.
Following your inspection, you will receive a grade and a report. The grades are as follows:
- Requires Improvement.
The report may also come with some recommendations to help you improve your current practice. You are required to give this report to any parents whose children are currently in your care. Once you have received your report, it will be published online within 10 working days.
How Many Children Can a Childminder Look After?
Legally, childminders have a limit on how many children they are allowed to have in their care at any one time. The recommendations set out vary within different countries in the UK.
In England, the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage states that six is the maximum number of children under the age of eight that a childminder can look after. Of these six children, only three of the children can be under the age of five and only one child can be below one year of age.
A child over the age of eight does not need to be included in your ratio, as long as the childminder ensures that they have enough space and resources to cater for the additional numbers and that the children needing EYFS provisions still have their needs met.
It is possible to go above the recommended limit of six children in exceptional circumstances, such as if you are caring for siblings, if a child aged four or five is only present at certain times (such as before and after school) or if you employ an assistant. If one of these exceptions apply, you can consider caring for additional children. However, to determine how many children your setting is suitable for, you should consider:
- The length of time that you are providing care for each child.
- Whether the equipment, resources and furniture are suitable for additional children.
- How you will meet the EYFS criteria and ensure the educational and development requirements for each child will be met.
- How your day is organised to ensure all children receive enough of your time.
- Whether a risk assessment has been completed for additional children.
Childminders living in Wales must follow guidelines set out under the ‘National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare for Children Up to the Age of 12 Years’. These guidelines stipulate that childminders can care for a maximum of 10 children below 12 years old. The guidelines also state that a maximum of six children can be below eight years old, a maximum of three children can be below five years old and a maximum of two children can be below 18 months old.
There are exceptions for these ratios in the following circumstances:
- If you employ an assistant.
- If children aged between three and five also attend full-time education, they can be classed as being over five years old in your ratio calculation.
Childminders living in Scotland must follow guidelines set by the National Care Standards. These guidelines state that there should be a maximum of six children below 12 years of age. There should be a maximum of three children below primary school age and only one child below one year of age.
If childminders in Scotland want to care for more than six children, they may need to apply for planning permission or have another adult working in the setting.
Any Other Legal Requirements
Although we have already looked at many of the legal requirements for childminders, there are still some important requirements you must ensure you adhere to:
- Registering as self-employed – A childminder in the UK will usually be considered self-employed. This means that childminders are responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance. Ensure that you register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to assess how much you are required to pay.
- Date protection requirements – As you will have access to sensitive information, it is important that you adhere to the requirements for data protection. You may have to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or take a date protection course.
- Special Educational Needs (SEN) – You will need to download the Code of Practice for the country you live in and must ensure you have arrangements in place to cater for a child who has a disability or SEN.
- Safeguarding – Childminders have a legal responsibility to safeguard the children in their care. You should ensure you read the guidelines and keep up to date with procedures and recommendations. The NSPCC website can provide you with all the information you need and can help to direct you to the guidelines specific to your country.