Childminding is about caring for and providing learning opportunities for children aged up to 14 years in your home. If you want to stay at home to look after your children but would also like to make money, this is a particularly good way of doing it.
Childminders operate their own self-employed businesses, working throughout the year, providing flexible care for working parents. If this sounds like something you fancy having a go at, read on for our complete guide.
The law says that you can look after up to six children in total: up to three under-fives and up to three more five to eight-year-olds. It’s your responsibility to make sure all the children in your care feel safe and secure and are warm and well fed.
You must plan, prepare and serve healthy meals; change nappies and make up bottles for babies; help children learn and grow by providing play activities both indoors and outdoors; take children on outings and transport older children to and from school.
Parents may have requests about their child’s diet, routines and religion, and you’d be expected to share any information or give a rundown of the day’s events to parents.
Step 1: Get registered with Ofsted
You need to be aged over 18 to be a childminder. Although there are no qualifications you need to be registered to work with children under the age of eight. See the next step on how to apply for your working-with-children check, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Contact your local authority to find out when and where there’s a childminding pre-registration briefing. This provides information on becoming a childminder and you’ll receive an application pack. Complete the application and post it back.
Step 2: Apply for your DBS check
When a job requires you to work with vulnerable people such as children or disabled people, you’ll need to have a DBS check, to prove that you aren’t a potential danger to the people you’ll be working with.
If you’re self employed, the process can be quite difficult as the current law in the UK says that you can’t apply to carry out a DBS check on yourself. So follow Ofsted’s guidelines to apply for clearance for you and anyone else in your home aged over 16 years.
Step 3: Ofsted inspection and interview
You then need to have a home inspection by Ofsted to prove you have suitable premises and equipment, and to ensure you’re a suitable person to care for children.
Your house and garden need to be child-proofed! You should have proper gates and fences so children can’t run away, and any sharp objects should be moved from the area. Inside it’s a good idea to have room barriers, lots of soft pillows and either rugs or carpet to play on and the kitchen should be out of bounds to inquisitive little minds.
Step 4: Training course
Complete an introductory childminding training course and first-aid course. You must do this within six months of starting childminding. There are so many courses out there, that you should choose one according to your work habits. What is best – a full-time course, a part-time or evening course or an online course? Some places, like Childminding Matters in Norfolk, offer free Introduction to Childminding (ITC) courses.
St John Ambulance is the first place to go for first aid training, and your local council or community centres will also have first-aid training courses.
Step 5: Setting up
Having carried out this training, you have to pay an £35 fee for a registration certificate and then you can finally start work as a registered childminder.
There are grants available for childminders to help them set up their business. These help to cover the costs of things like toys, safety equipment, insurance, registration and inspection fees. In England and Wales, grants come from councils’ Early Years teams (contact your local authority for details of your nearest Early Years team), while in Scotland you can apply through the SCMA.
Step 6: Advertise
To drum up business, put up flyers in local schools and hand out business cards at the local supermarket. If you get serious and to the stage when you want to expand, you can even make a website to show off your business.
There are numerous companies out there who make websites specifically for childminding businesses.
There are also online directories such as this one.
Step 7: Further training
You may be encouraged to further your skills by working towards a qualification such as:
- Level 3 Diploma in Home-based Childcare
- NVC Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development.
The diploma can be done by distance learning or through local colleges and training providers.
Pay levels are set locally, rather than nationally, and are dependent upon the number of children cared for, the setting in which you work and the number of hours you do. The better qualified you are, the more experience you get and the higher your level of responsibility – then the higher your salary is likely to be.
As a childminders you’ll need to make arrangements for paying your own tax and insurance, and meet costs such as providing meals and buying toys and equipment.