* Childcare Element of the Working Tax Credit
* Free Early Education Offer
Registered childminders are professional daycarers who work in their own homes to provide care and education for other people's children in a family setting. There were 57,798 registered childminders in 2010 in England and Wales, so there will be some in your area. The childminder and all adults (16+) living and working in the childminder's home will be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Registered childminders are self-employed and take care of their own tax and national insurance. They are not 'employed' by parents but negotiate a contract for their service for which they charge a fee.
- Registered childminders usually work in their own home to look after your child, along with other children.
- They are allowed to care for up to six children under the age of eight, including their own - but only three of them can be aged under five.
- Self-employed, they decide on working hours. Most are willing to work early morning, evenings and weekends, as well as part time.
- All childminder are required to have completed a basic training course, including first aid, and most go on to do further training and professional development, although some will not have childcare qualifications.
- Your child should experience learning and development activities suitable for their age that are based on the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.
How can I be sure of good quality care?
Childminders must be registered and inspected by OFSTED, who carry out regular checks on the home and childminder. Once you've met and interviewed the childminder, you will get a feel for whether they are suitable for your children.
What will it cost me?
You will need to negotiate hours, terms and conditions with your childminder. Rates vary from area to area and can cost you on average £3-00 an hour (£4 plus in London) per child.
Other issues to consider
- I need flexible care because I work irregular hours which don't correspond to a normal 8am-6pm nursery day
- I want my child to be cared for in a family setting
- I want my child to have one carer
- I have children of different ages and it's important they're cared for together
- I'm good at saying what I want
- Mixing with large groups of children isn't a priority right now
Questions to ask your childminders
- What extra training have you done, particularly in speech, language and communication needs?
- Do you belong to a childminder network that will provide training, and education advice, such as on special educational needs and issues of child behaviour, such as teasing and bullying?
- How long have you been childminding?
- Why do you like this job?
- How long do you intend to do it for?
- What other children will be with my child, and how old are they?
- Can I have the phone numbers of other parents you work for so I can follow up references?
- Have you joined any quality assurance schemes?
- Do you charge for sick days?
- Ask to see if all the rooms in the house are clean and tidy.
- Where will your child sleep? Make sure it is quiet.
- How do you spend the day and how do other children's schedules fit in with my child? Find out simple things, such as when she or he does shopping/banking/chores.
- Do you go out on day trips? Where to?
- Do you have properly fitted car seats?
- What kind of meals and drinks do you give the children?
- Do you keep a file about a child's progress?
- Will you agree to a trial run (say a couple of mornings) to see how it's going to work out? Most childminders will agree to this.
- Ask for the childminder's up-to-date registration, public liability insurance and first aid certificate.
- Check all rooms and garden are insured, otherwise your child will be excluded from those areas.
- Who is coming and going? Ask how many other adults will be in the house.
- Agree on feeding, learning, TV watching and discipline policies.
- Any contract should cover hours, pay, sickness and holiday pay.
For more information
Call ChildcareLink on 0800 096 02 96 for the telephone number of your local Children's Information Service (CIS) - your CIS will have a list of childminders in your area.
Or call the National Childminding Association (NCMA) on 0800 169 4486 for more information on childminder networks.
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