40 per week
If you love children and like the idea of working from home, this could be perfect for you. Childminders look after children in their own home, whilst the children's parents are at work or studying. They could look after babies and children under five during the day, or older children after school and in the school holidays.
You need to be aged at least 18 to become a childminder. You do not need any qualifications, but you do need to be registered with Ofsted before you can look after children under the age of eight.
To become a childminder, you will need to have patience and a sense of humour. You will also need to be aware of health, safety and hygiene. Knowledge of child protection issues is also important.
As a childminder you would:
- make sure that the children you are looking after feel secure, and are safe, warm and well fed
- plan, prepare and serve them meals
- change nappies and make up bottles for babies
- provide a range of play activities, both indoors and outside, to help children develop
- take children on outings, for example to the park or to toddler groups
- take older children to and from playgroup or school.
You would need to carry out parents' requests concerning their children's diet, routines and religion, and share information about their children with them. You would also need to comply with registration requirements of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills).
Working hours and conditions
You will be able to set your own hours to some extent, but these will have to fit in with the needs of parents. Some childminders offer a weekend and/or overnight service for parents who work shifts.
Your home will be inspected to make sure it is safe and hygienic, and you may need to make some changes, such as fitting safety gates.
The National Childminding Association (now Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) Membership Survey 2012 reported that fees charged by childminders ranged from £3.63 to £5.42 an hour for each child, depending on the area of the country.
Childminders need to make arrangements for paying their own tax and insurance, and pay costs such as meals, toys and equipment. A childminder start-up grant (where available) can help with this.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not need any formal qualifications to become a childminder but you do need to be aged 18 or over. You also need to be registered with Ofsted if you intend to care for a child or children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day.
Your first step to becoming registered is to contact the Families Information Services at your local council, who will tell you when there is a childminding pre-registration meeting in your area.
At the meeting, you will be given information about becoming a childminder, an application pack and details of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
The EYFS sets out the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. It focuses on areas like communication skills, physical and emotional development, and numeracy and literacy. It also lays out the conditions you need to meet for the safety and wellbeing of the child or children under your care.
See the EYFS handbook for more detailed information.
Once you have completed the application and returned it to your Ofsted regional centre, you will:
- have an Ofsted home inspection and an interview to make sure you are a suitable person to care for children
- have a medical check
- complete an introductory training course and a 12-hour paediatric first-aid course.
If the course does not include the first aid certificate, you can do this at a local college. You will also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for yourself and anyone else in your home aged over 16. See the DBS website for details.
Visit the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) website for more details about setting up as a childminder, registration and inspection.
You may be able to get help with the costs of setting up your childminding business by applying for a childminder start-up grant if this is available in your area. To apply for a grant, contact the Early Years team at your local council.
Approval of your registration to work as a childminder can take up to three months.
Training and development
As part of your pre-registration training, you would normally work towards an optional unit taken from the qualification: Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce. The unit - Understand how to set up a home based childcare service - covers several areas, including:
- childcare legislation
- developing business procedures, eg how to deal with accidents
- setting up play and learning activities
- working with parents.
Once registered, you can continue to take short training courses to help with professional development. Local authorities, colleges and regional branches of PACEY offer short courses and one-day training sessions on, for example:
- child protection
- equal opportunities
- special educational needs
- business skills and marketing.
You could also take the Level 2 Certificate or the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce if you wanted to gain a nationally recognised qualification that allows you to work in other childcare settings, such as a nursery or reception class.
You will receive an Ofsted inspection at least once every three years to make sure that you are providing the expected standard of care. If major improvements are required, they will re-visit you sooner.
PACEY has a membership scheme, where you can get advice and support on all aspects of childminding work. See PACEY for details.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a childminder, you will need to have:
- a love of children and a commitment to giving them high standards of care
- patience and a sense of humour
- good communication skills
- an awareness of health, safety and hygiene
- knowledge of child protection issues
- the ability to keep written records and do simple financial calculations.
Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills)
Royal Exchange Buildings
St Ann's Square
Tel: 0845 640 4045
Scottish Childminding Association
7 Melville Terrace
Tel: 01786 445377
Northern Ireland Childminding Association
Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
81 Tweedy Road
Tel: 0845 880 0044
You will be self-employed, usually working in your own home. Some childminders are paid by local authorities, for example for looking after children at risk of neglect or abuse.
With experience you could become a network coordinator, supporting other local childminders, or a tutor on childminding courses.
With relevant qualifications you can move into a related job such as a nursery worker, playworker, community play leader or teaching assistant.
The following sites may be useful for general reading:
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