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How To Become A Childminder

Being a childminder entails far more than “simple” babysitting, this is an official role relating to the care of minors and to become a childminder in the UK, you must meet certain criteria, registration requirements and comply with laws relating to safety and suitability.

To be a childminder in the UK you must be at least 18 years old and be registered with Ofsted or a childminding agency. This registration ensures that a DBS check is carried out and that up-to-date first aid training is held. Registered childminders will have regular inspections by officials to ensure the service and space offered is safe and meets the required standards for children in your care.

A good childminder will meet all of the above requirements whilst offering a nurturing environment that promotes learning and development of children.

What Is Childminding?

Childminding is childcare delivered by a registered professional who is able to take care of one or more children in their own home.

The role covers providing a home-from-home experience in comparison to a public nursery or playgroup setting and ages tend to range from birth to 12 years old. Registered childminders can care for up to six children under 8 and no more than three children under the ages of 5 and only one under the age of 1. These ratios are important to ensure the best care for the children.

Hours are flexible but often are part-time and include before and after school times. Childminders can set up lots of activities to stimulate learning, play, social interaction and education experiences.

Most childminders are self employed and must register with relevant regulatory bodies to ensure that standards for care, safety and education are met. It’s a great way to offer a more personal childcare route to nurseries.

Becoming A Childminder

Learning how to become a childminder as a profession can be a smart business choice. Although the process requires registration fees and training courses, the overall startup cost is much lower than many other businesses.

The startup cost is affordable and only the certification and registration costs a significant amount. With a typical budget of £500+, you can work towards becoming a childminder.

Subsequently, the potential profits are quite modest but with promising yields for the patient and prudent professionals. With the right mindset and work/life balance, you can build a successful childminder career.

Learning how to become a childminder offers a more flexible and short-term training period than alternatives like a day nursery business. As a childminder, you can start from the comfort of your home and charge hourly or weekly rates instead of termly childcare fees.

Some people consider the childminding business as a type of “micro nursery”. They view it as one where passionate professionals become experts in providing high-quality early education to a small number of children.

The most successful childminders are those people who enjoy having children around and never get tired of helping them learn, grow and develop.

Key competencies and requirements of a childminder 

  • Patience and good communication skills
  • Good childcare experience (professional background preferred but not necessary)
  • Excellent organisational and administrative abilities
  • Be passionate and not primarily motivated by money

Additionally, you have to be above 18 years old to be recognised as a professional childminder. It is also necessary to use your home or a conducive domestic premise to host the children.

The minimum training expectations to become a childminder include:

  • Getting certified in a childminder training course.
  • Having appropriate first aid qualifications.
  • Provision of necessary training to assistants on the child safeguarding policies and procedures.

Childminding legal requirements

Early Years Registration

Strict adherence to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) standards for safeguarding and welfare is required to join the Early Years Register that cares for children under the age of five. The organisation’s standards also include learning and development.

Childcare Registration: Basic Requirements

The basic childcare registration requirements refer to the prerequisites for every registered childminder with Ofsted. Additional requirements are depending on whether you joined as a voluntary or compulsory registered member.

However, the basic general requirements are:

You must:

  • You must not use corporal punishment methods. No one that cares for children, or lives or works in a childcare environment is permitted to apply corporal punishment to them.
  • You must maintain appropriate control over children’s behaviour.
  • Be always present as a childminder except for cases where permission is given by the parents or guardians.
  • Smoking is not allowed by anyone on childcare premises.
  • Do not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while caring for children. That includes avoiding medications that might affect your ability to care for the children.
  • You must be above 18 years old before applying as a childminder. Rare exceptions for childminders under 18 would require additional supervision by an adult.

Safeguarding children

The minimum expectations on safeguarding children as a childminder include:

  • The availability of a written child protection policy that controls how your childminders safeguard children from abuse or neglect.
  • Ensure that every individual granted unsupervised contact with the children or who temporarily looks after them is qualified and has an enhanced DBS check.
  • Contacting the Local Safeguarding Children Board and Director of Children’s Services whenever appropriate.
  • Minimising any risk to the health and safety of every child and staff.

Facilities

The minimum expectations to qualify your facility for childminder business include:

  • Ensuring the premises and all equipment are suitable and safe for childcare.
  • Ensure that entrance into the premises is restricted without permission from the childminder.
  • Having a safe and conducive place to prepare food. All meals prepared within the facility must be properly cooked and nutritious.
  • Proper access to drinking water and hand-washing facilities. There must also be good toilets suitable for the age group in your care.
  • An outdoor space that is secured with possible arrangements for activities and a children’s playground.

Organising your childcare

The minimum requirements concerning organising your childcare business are:

  • Make alternative agreements with childminders, parents or guardians for the few occasions when you are unable to provide childcare.
  • You must provide inclusive and accessible care to every child under your watch. There should be no discrimination because of a child’s religion, race, home language, gender, family background, education or any disability.
  • In case you have disabled children enrolled in your childcare, offer special provision for full childcare access for them.

Records and information

The minimum requirement for proper documentation of a childminder business is to keep at least a 2-year record of the following for each child.

  • Full name, home address and date of birth of both the child and parents/guardian. You should also document the telephone number of the parents/guardian.
  • A daily record of children’s names and attendance hours.
  • Medicine prescribed with details like prescription date, reason for taking it, and a consent letter from the parent or guardian.

Other import childminder business records include:

  • Details of any accident on the childcare premises.
  • The name, home address and telephone number of everyone who lives or works at the childcare location.

It is also important to send a copy of the following records and information to the parents or guardians:

  • Information about their children’s activities.
  • Copy of your safeguarding and complaints policy.
  • Details of the registration system for the Childcare Register and the Ofsted’s address.

Keeping Ofsted informed

The minimum expectation is to update Ofsted about changes to any of the following information within 14 days:

  • The name and contact details of your childminder business.
  • The physical address of your childminder business location.
  • The type of childcare services you offer.
  • Possible events that could affect your suitability (or that of staff) to care for the children. Examples are disqualifying orders or offences.
  • The name, date of birth, address and telephone number of everyone who works or lives at the childcare premises, and is over 16 years of age.

Additional requirements after registering your childminder business are to inform Ofsted about:

  • Any food poisoning incident involving children under your care.
  • Any serious injury or accident within the childcare premises. Any incidence of child loss under your care must also be reported to Ofsted.
  • Allegations of serious abuse or harm happening around the childcare premises.
  • Allegations of serious abuse or harm committed in another location by anyone in charge of the children under your care.

The following are also mandatory after registration of your childminder business:

  • Have a valid personal liability insurance policy.
  • Display your registration certificate on your childcare premises.
  • Display the suspension notice in case your registration gets suspended.

Voluntary part of the Childcare Register: extra requirements

The minimum requirements to join the voluntary part of the Childcare register are:

  • You must have a minimum level 2 qualification in a work area that is relevant to childcare or recognised training in related core skills.
  • You must ensure children are restricted from leaving the premises without a chaperone except those above age 8 and with verified parental permission to leave unaccompanied.

Compulsory part of the Childcare Register: extra requirements

The minimum requirements to join the compulsory part of the Childcare register are:

  • You must have certification in a child protection training course to help identify signs that indicate a child is probably suffering from harm.
  • Be able to offer support and guidance about child protection policies to your assistants ensuring they are alert to signs that indicate a child may be suffering from harm.
  • Ensure there is at least one staff above 18 years old for every six children under childcare.
  • Verify the English language proficiency of you and your childminders to ensure everyone can read and understand instructions concerning children’s safety and welfare.
  • Ensure no child is allowed to leave the premises unsupervised.
  • Arrange additional training for assistant childminders on skills they lack.

Summary of the Steps You Need to Take To Become a Childminder 

The following are the steps while learning how to become a childminder. Consider contacting your local authority before starting the application process to confirm if there is provision of financial support and guidance.

DBS checks

Start the process by doing a criminal record check or applying for enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). You must get it done for yourself and anyone who is 16 years or above, and who would live or work around the childcare home. Individuals who have spent about five years staying outside the country would require a certificate of good character from the relevant embassy.

A certificate in first aid

Relevant certifications in first aid are part of the process of becoming a childminder. Some training like paediatric first aid courses are widely available but you should confirm that whatever course and provider you choose, meets the basic requirement of EYFS (Early Year Foundation Stage). You must also renew your training certification every three years.

While you retain the right to choose preferred programmes, some popular choices in the UK are worth considering. We have the St. John Ambulance which offers blended online and in-person learning modules, and the British Red Cross. with a 2-day classroom-based training course.

Training & Qualifications

It is mandatory to enrol for a childminder training course that meets the minimum requirements of appropriate registers like the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register. You must earn a Level 3 qualification such as CYPOP5 or an HBCA.

While some governments organise their childcare training, we also have different individual bodies with childminder courses. For example, PACEY is the professional body for childminding in England while Wales has a different training body.

The structures of these professional childcare courses are similar. They all contain basic modules like ensuring children’s safety, play and fun activities, providing an inclusive environment and how to work with parents. The courses could be online or face-to-face training.

Declaration of health

It is mandatory to fill out a health declaration form and complete all relevant sections. Your GP is expected to complete section C which could attract a fee from the doctor.

Submit a registration application.

It is also mandatory to register with Ofsted and pay the £35 annual fee to complete the application.

Inspection of your house or premises

Inspection of your proposed childcare premises would be carried out by Ofsted, especially if you applied under the Early Years Register. The inspector will visit to verify your identity, qualifications, English proficiency and suitability of your home for childcare. Other questions would cover your plans for the learning and development of the children enrolled in your care in line with the EYFS requirements.

It is expected that you will read and understand the Ofsted guide during preparation for the inspector’s visit. There is usually only one scheduled registration visit and you must be completely prepared for it.

Inspection from Ofsted is only required during application for the Early Years Register. Prospective childminders interested in caring for only children above the age of five do not need a registration visit.

Get your certificate of registration

You only become a registered childminder after Ofsted has checked and approved your application. A certificate of registration will be given to you before you can adopt your first child. In addition, you will get a Unique Reference Number (URN) that is published online. Your business name and address will also be made public except if you request Ofsted not to.

Summary Of Becoming A Childminder

There are several key steps involved in becoming a childminder. These include DBS checks for anyone in the childcare settings, regardless of whether they will be interacting with the children under your care. First aid courses that meet EYFS required and Level 3 childcare qualifications are also important.

You should register with Ofsted and if registering to care for children under 5, you will be inspected to ensure that you can meet the early years foundation stage learning milestones for the children you will be caring for.

The process for becoming a childminder will vary depending on how many qualifications in this role you already hold but typically around 12 weeks. Once registered, you will have a reference number that enables you to legally start your childminding business.

Childminding is a career that needs dedication, genuine care for children and adherence to regulations regarding the safety, education and care of the children in your care.

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