Being a childminder entails far more than “simple” babysitting – but what are the legal requirements and what qualifications are required to be a professional childminder? This article will walk you through everything you need to know if you’re considering childminding as a profession or business.
Childminding has several advantages as a business opportunity. While there are initial registration fees and training courses required, the start-up costs are much lower than those of many businesses.
This implies that potential profits will be modest as well, but if you’re patient and prudent, you can build a viable business with a strong work/life balance.
There is also a growing trend to consider childminding operations as “micro nurseries,” in which passionate professionals provide high-quality early childhood education to a much smaller number of children.
What exactly is a childminder, and who should consider becoming one?
As with starting any childcare business, you will be most successful as a childminder if you enjoy being around children and enjoy assisting them in learning, growing, and developing.
Typically, becoming a childminder is a more flexible and short-term option than the more heavily regulated alternatives, such as opening a day nursery. You can also become a childminder in your own home and charge hourly or weekly childminder fees rather than termly childminder fees.
Childminding also has very low start-up costs when compared to similar alternatives: you can become a childminder for around £500+. The initial certification and registration process is usually the most expensive part of becoming a childminder.
Key competencies and requirements
- Patience and good communication skills
- A background in childcare is preferred (but not a necessity)
- Excellent organisational and administrative abilities
- You must be motivated by factors other than money.
In addition to these qualifications, you must be over the age of 18 to work as a childminder. You must also use your home or a domestic premises to host children.
Childminding legal requirements
Early Years Registration
If you want to join the Early Years Register to care for children under the age of five, you must adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework’s safeguarding and welfare standards, as well as the learning and development standards.
Childcare Registration: Basic Requirements
These are the prerequisites for all registered childminders with Ofsted. There are also extra requirements depending on whether you are joining the voluntary or compulsory register – learn more about the registers.
- not use corporal punishment, and ensure that no one caring for children, or living or working in an environment where childcare is provided, is using corporal punishment
- maintain appropriate control over children’s behaviour
- be present at all times when giving childcare – the only exception is that if the parents or carers have given permission, a childminding assistant can take care of the children for up to 2 hours per day.
- smoking is not permitted on the premises
- Do not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while caring for children or shortly before they arrive – this includes any medication that may impair your ability to care for children.
- be 18 or older, and ensure that anyone under the age of 17 who looks after children is always supervised by an adult.
- have an appropriate first aid qualification
- undertake a childminder training course
- train any assistants on your child safeguarding policy and procedures
- have, and follow, a written child protection policy to safeguard the children you look after from abuse or neglect
- ensure that anyone who has unsupervised contact with, or who looks after, children is appropriate and has got an enhanced DBS check
- contact any Local Safeguarding Children Board and Director of Children’s Services if appropriate
- minimise any risks to the health and safety of children and staff
- ensure your premises and all equipment therein are suitable and safe for childcare
- ensure that no-one can enter the premises without the knowledge of someone who is looking after children
- have an appropriate place to prepare food, if you provide it; any food you provide must be prepared properly, nutritious and wholesome
- ensure that the children can gain access to to drinking water and ample hand-washing and suitable toilet facilities
- provide access to an outdoor space that is secure, or if this isn’t possible, make sufficient arrangements for activities out of doors
Organising your childcare
- make alternative arrangements either with other childcare providers or with parents for occasions when you are unable to provide childcare
- ensure that you provide inclusive and accessible childcare – you cannot treat a child differently or refuse to provide childcare for a child because of their religion, race, home language, gender, family background, disability or needs for special education
- ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken to make sure that there is full access available for disabled children
Records and information
You must record the following and keep these records for 2 years for each child you look after:
- their full name, home address, and date of birth
- full name, home address, and telephone number of their parent/carer or guardian
- a daily record of their name and attendance hours
- any medicine given, to include the date, why it was given and why, and a consent letter from their parent, carer, or guardian
You must also keep records of:
- any accidents on the premises
- the name, home address, and telephone number of everyone living or working where you provide childcare
You must give parents:
- information about the children’s activities
- copies of your safeguarding and complaints policies
- details of the registration system for the Childcare Register and Ofsted’s address
Keeping Ofsted informed
You must tell them about changes to any of the following within 14 days of the change happening:
- your name and contact details
- any address where you look after children
- the type of childcare you provide
- any event that may affect your suitability (or the suitability of someone else) to care for children, such as any disqualifying orders or offences
- the name, date of birth, address, and telephone number of each person who is either working or living in the home during childcare hours and is over the age of 16
You must also tell Ofsted about:
- any food poisoning incident affecting 2 or more children in your care
- any serious injury or accident to, or loss of, any child while in your care
- any allegation of serious abuse or harm happening on the premises
- any allegation of serious abuse or harm committed in another location by anybody who looks after children with you
- have valid personal liability insurance in place
- have your registration certificate on display on the premises where you are providing childcare
- display a suspension notice if your registration is suspended
Voluntary part of the Childcare Register: extra requirements
- If you’re joining the voluntary part of the register, you must also:
- have a minimum level 2 qualification in an area of work relevant to childcare, or training in the common core skills
- ensure children are not able to leave the premises without a chaperone, (unless they are aged 8+ and have parental permission to leave unaccompanied)
Compulsory part of the Childcare Register: extra requirements
You must also:
- attend child protection training so that you can identify and act on any signs that a child may be suffering from harm
- give any assistants support and guidance about child protection and make sure that they are alert to any signs that a child may be suffering from harm
- make sure that there’s at least one person aged 18 or over for every 6 children being looked after
- ensure that you and any assistants you employ to look after children have English that is good enough to guarantee the children’s welfare and safety, i.e., to call for help or to read instructions
- make sure that no child can leave the premises unsupervised
- arrange any necessary training to make sure that any assistants have appropriate experience and skills to care for children
How many children can a registered childminder look after?
In England, a registered childminder is permitted to care for no more than six children under the age of eight at any given time.
Depending on the age of the children being cared for and the type of care being provided, you must adhere to additional regulations and guidelines.
Under no circumstances may more than six children under the age of eight be cared for.
Summary of the Steps you Need to Take
There are a number of obstacles you need to overcome in order to become a registered childminder in England. The training and registration process will likely be the most expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating part for most people.
Consider contacting your local authority before you apply to find out if any support is available.
The first step is to get a criminal record check – you’ll need to apply for enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks for yourself and anyone living with you or working in your home who is 16 or older.
You’ll also need a certificate of good character from the relevant embassy if you’ve spent time living abroad in the last five years. This applies to anyone else who needs a DBS check as part of the childminder registration process.
A certificate in first aid
Paediatric first aid training is widely available, with a wide range of providers. While you have complete freedom in selecting a provider, keep in mind that it must be a full course that meets EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) requirements. This training must also be renewed every three years.
Your local government may have its own programme, but popular UK-wide options include St John Ambulance, which offers blended online and in-person learning, and the British Red Cross, which offers a two-day classroom-based training course.
Training & Qualifications
You must take a childminder training course that is appropriate for the register(s) you want to join, such as the Early Years Register and/or the Childcare Register.
In general, you’ll earn a Level 3 qualification, such as a CYPOP5 or an HBCA.
Before enrolling, contact your local authority for advice on appropriate courses.
A variety of childcare providers are available, and some local governments also offer their own childcare courses. PACEY, the professional body for childminding in England and Wales, also offers its own online training.
Childcare courses have a similar structure, with assessed modules on topics like basic setup, ensuring children’s safety, play, and activities, providing an inclusive environment, and working with parents.
Although some providers may offer face-to-face training, many courses are delivered online.
Declaration of health
A health declaration form must be filled out. While you must complete the relevant sections of the form, your GP must complete section C (for which the doctor may charge a fee).
You must provide the contact information for two people who can serve as references as part of the application.
Submit a registration application.
The next step is to register with Ofsted (s). To be included in the register, you must pay an annual fee of around £35.
Inspection of your house or premises
If you apply to be on the Early Years Register, Ofsted will contact you to schedule an inspection.
An inspector will come to your home to verify your identity, qualifications, and ability to communicate in English, as well as to ensure that your home is suitable for childcare. They’ll also inquire about your plans for the learning and development of the children in your care, as well as the EYFS requirements.
Before the inspector calls, read and understand the detailed guide that Ofsted has prepared to assist you in preparing for a registration visit.
Because you are usually only allowed one registration visit, it is critical that you are completely prepared to become a childminder at this point.
Inspections are only required for the application process for the Early Years Register. You won’t need to prepare for a registration visit if you only plan to care for children over the age of five.
Get your certificate of registration
You will receive a certificate of registration from Ofsted once this process is complete and Ofsted has completed the necessary checks and approved your application. You will only be ready to adopt your first child once you have received this certificate.
Along with your inspection reports, you’ll get a URN (Unique Reference Number) that will be published online. Your name and address will also be made public unless you ask Ofsted not to.
You must obtain public liability insurance as soon as possible after registering, or you will be unable to trade legally.
How long the whole process discussed above takes depends on a number of factors, including the childminder training course you enrol on – some are for a fixed period – and the Ofsted registration process, which the body says can take up to 12 weeks to complete.
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