How to become a childminder

With more parents returning to work than ever before, becoming a childminder can be a rewarding business. According to the Money Advice Service, the average childminder charges around £217.30 per week to mind a child aged under two full-time, increasing to £284.21 in London – equal to around £11,300 per child each year.

Why become a childminder?

Becoming a registered childminder has plenty of benefits, especially if you love caring for children and babies. Childminding is ideal for working from home, and you’re free to set your own hours as a part-time or full-time childminder. You’re also free to set your own fees.

Childminding can be highly rewarding. You’ll play a role in helping children learn new skills that set the foundation for later life. Childminding is a flexible business that’s relatively easy to set up with low overheads – and it is popular as a second income. You can also charge hourly fees, as opposed to term-fees charged by nurseries.

How to become a childminder – what you need

A childminder is defined as someone who is self-employed and looks after other people’s children for at least two hours a day while getting paid to do so. However, there are some requirements to becoming a childminder and a few skills that are invaluable when offering childcare.

If you want to become a registered childminder you must be aged 18 or over, and you’ll need a home with enough space to host children. It’s also helpful to live near primary schools if you plan to drop off and pick up any school-aged children as part of your role as a childminder.

To become a childminder you need patience, good communication skills and a genuine interest in children. Good organisation and administration skills are essential too, as you’re required to keep ongoing assessment records for children aged under five.

While you don’t need formal qualifications to become a childminder, experience of working with children in a professional capacity can help you understand some of the challenges involved in being a childminder.

How do I become a registered childminder?

Where you live and the age of the children you plan to look after determines how you register as a childminder.

In England you must register with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) if you want to be paid for looking after a child under the age of eight for more than two hours a day. There are two Ofsted registers – the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register – to join, depending on the age of the children you look after. For most childminders, however, it makes sense to apply to both registers at the same time.

Early Years Register – You need to register with the Early Years Register as a childminder if you’re caring for children aged from birth to 31 August after their fifth birthday.

Childcare Register – Childminders caring for children aged 5-7 years must register on the compulsory part of the Childcare Register.

Childminders caring only for children over the age of eight years can choose to register on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register.

When registering on the Early Years Register, you can also join the Childcare Register at no extra cost. However, if you subsequently want to join the Early Years Register after being registered on the Childcare Register then you’ll need to apply separately and pay an additional fee.

For those living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the registration process for becoming a childminder is different:

Wales – To become a childminder in Wales, you must register with Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

Scotland – To become a childminder in Scotland, you must register with the Care Inspectorate.

Northern Ireland – To become a childminder in Northern Ireland, you must contact your local Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT).

What you need to become a registered childminder

Before you can register as a childminder with Ofsted, you need to have completed a series of training and suitability checks. To register with Ofsted, you need the following:

A criminal records certificate – This is issued after a check is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and you will need to join the DBS update service as part of your registration. You make a DBS application as part of registering as a childminder with Ofsted. You’ll need to obtain criminal record certificates for anyone aged 16 or older living in the home where you’ll be offering your childminding services.

Relevant training – This includes recognised first aid training with certification for the age group you will look after, as well as any specific childcare training that is advised by your local council.

Health declaration – Your GP must provide a signed health declaration booklet. This confirms that you have no health issues that could interfere with your ability to look after children.

References – You must provide the names and addresses of two people to act as references.

Insurance – As with any business dealing with people coming to your premises, you’ll need to obtain public liability insurance when registering with Ofsted. This provides essential legal protection if someone is injured or their property damaged as a result of your childminding business.

Data protection – You’ll also need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) so you can keep digital records of any children you look after. You’ll need to ensure that all records meet ICO requirements, including keeping data secure.

Once your application is submitted, Ofsted will arrange a home visit to check your premises and documentation, and make sure that you’re ready to start professionally caring for children.

How much does it cost to become a registered childminder?

While there are a lot of checks and processes to go through when registering as a childminder, start-up costs are relatively low. Expect to pay between £265 and £550 to complete all the necessary registrations, insurance, declarations and training.

Ofsted annual registration fee – Costs £35 for childminders caring for children aged five and under only. Childminders who care only for children aged five or older pay a registration fee of £103.

DBS checks – English and Welsh childminders will pay £53 for an enhanced DBS check, plus an annual fee of £13 to keep the check up-to-date. You’ll need to factor in the cost of a DBS check for anyone aged over 16 who lives in your home. In Scotland a similar check by Disclosure Scotland costs £25.

Health declaration booklet – Expect to pay between £50 and £150 to get your GP to fill in and sign your health declaration booklet, depending on your GP practice.

First aid course – The price of a first aid course can vary, but it’s worth choosing a nationally recognised course. Expect to pay between £60 to £150 depending on where you live and the age groups of the children you look after.

Public liability insurance – Costs can vary depending on your individual circumstances but policies range from £25 to over £100.

Registration with the ICO – Expect to pay £40 to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Watch out for other costs, too, which can cut into your income. Using your car and home for business purposes may incur additional insurance costs. You’ll also need equipment such as smoke alarms, a first aid kit, stair gates and other child-proofing measures to ensure your home and garden are safe for children.

How long does it take to become a registered childminder?

It typically takes around three months to complete registration as a childminder with Ofsted – but it can take longer when you factor in qualifying for a first aid certificate, DBS checks and getting your health declaration signed. Usually these can all happen at the same time.

Once you apply, Ofsted will arrange a visit your home to inspect your forms and certificates and check that your home and garden are safe for children. They will also check that you understand the early years foundation requirements and know how to put them into practice. If the inspector is satisfied, your application for registration will be approved and you’ll receive a certificate of registration that you must show to parents. Childminders looking after children aged five or over will not require a registration visit.

How many children can I look after as a childminder?

There are limits to the number of children you can look after, depending on their age. In England, there is a limit of six children under the age of eight, and only three of these can be under age five. Normally only one baby under the age of one year can be cared for. You can look after additional children aged eight and over at the same time. These numbers include a childminder’s own children and any children they’re responsible for such as foster children.

How to become a childminder – record keeping

Being a childminder involves plenty of paperwork – from daily registers, accident and medicine forms to visitor logs and invoices. Childminders on the Early Years Register are also required to follow the early years foundation (EYFS) framework, which sets standards for the care, learning and development of children from birth up to the age of five. This means you will need to complete daily diaries, observations, and development plans. You will also need to provide parents and carers with a written summary of their child’s development when the child is aged between 24 and 36 months.

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