Childminders are registered child carers that work from their own home for a minimum of 2 hours a day.
They look after small groups of children that can span different age groups and can be from different families.
Childminders are self-employed and run their own business. There are limits on how many children a single childminder can look after, and it’s common for childminders to go on to expand their business by employ childminding assistants so they can care for more children at once.
Being a childminder is an ideal solution for some parents – many childminders have their own child or children, although they will be included in the childminder to children ratio.
The day to day duties of a childminder can be separated into the following three groups:
Direct care of the children: This includes any interaction with the children such as playing fin games, reading, feeding them, changing nappies and any other care-related activities.
Planning: Some of the childminder’s time is spent on preparing and planning for a session of child care. Activities need to be age appropriate and inclusive, and a childminder may have different age groups and numbers at different times. A childminder needs to consider the children’s learning and development, especially for children under 5 as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework.
Administration: A significant portion of a childminder’s time is taken up with necessary paperwork. As well as the obligatory paperwork required when working as a self-employed or running a company, there are also risk assessments, policies, and client-specific contracts and agreements.
Salary and Working Hours
Salaries, or rather the amount childminders can charge clients does fluctuate and is impacted by supply and demand: if there are too few childminders for the number of clients, then childminders will be in demand and charges will rise. However, if charges rise too much, clients will look at alternatives. This supply and demand is very localised as parents will be looking for childcare provision in the local area, either close to home or close to their workplace.
The table here shows average rates in the UK, and also in inner London, with rates equating to roughly £5-6 per hour per child. However, well regarded childminders, especially in London and larger cities can charge up to £7 or £8 per hour per child, or more.
Inner London average
50 hours for a child under two
£228 a week
£303 per week
25 hours for a child under two
£118 a week
£164 a week
Family and Childcare Trust, 2020
A childminder has the flexibility to decide on their opening hours. Clearly, if these hours are too restrictive, they will be less attractive/accommodating to prospective clients. The hours reflect parent’s work commitments, so from 8am to 6pm would be typical. However, some childminders decide to only work with school aged children and so provide ‘wraparound care’, ie before and/or after school, leaving the middle of the day free. Some may decide to only provide their services on certain days of the week.
It is vital to have the flexibility to deal with parents who do not pick up on time. In such situations, the childminder cannot simply shut up shop, but have a responsibility in the welfare of the children in their care. Some parents, in cases of emergency, may want to leave their child with the childminder outside of the agreed hours – the childminder should have a policy on what they are prepared to do in such cases.
In order to become a childminder you need to satisfy the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have the right to work in the UK
- You, or any adults living in your home, have not been barred from working with children
- You have not been disqualified or refused registration in the past
What Do You Need to be a Childminder
A childminder must be registered – this can be either with Ofsted, or with a childminding agency. In order to register, there are certain training and qualifications that must be attained. Others are highly encouraged, and will provide valuable knowledge and skills, and give more credibility to the childminder.
- Common core of skills and knowledge, including safeguarding (unless covered by other training)
- 12 hour Paediatric first aid
- Food Hygiene level 1
- Clear DBS
Completed health declaration
- Registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office – to allow you to keep data about children and their parents (costs £35 per year).
NCFE CACHE Level 3 Award in Preparing to Work in Home Based Childcare – this is a comprehensive course designed by NCFE and covers all aspects of setting up and running a childminder business. It also includes safeguarding training. This course covers the common core including safeguarding.
To become a childminder you will also need :
Large enough space in your home for children to play, and to store equipment.
Safe environment appropriate for the age groups, eg stair gates, child locks on cupboards, socket covers.
Smoke free home, including smoke free garden, if available
Permission from landlord, if you are renting your home