Making the decision
Choosing someone to look after your child when you return to work or training is one of the most important decisions you can make. Around 300,000 children are cared for by childminders, making home-based childcare the second most popular form of formal childcare in England and Wales. Click on this link to watch a short film called “Home from Home – The benefits of home-based childcare” which will tell you all about what a registered childminder does and how childcare in the home can benefit your family. There is also a leaflet for you to download, featuring a list of questions to ask to help you to choose a childminder.
Home from home
Deciding on a registered childminder means you can be confident your child is looked after in a safe, family setting by a professional who can offer them the stimulation of a variety of activities and the chance to meet other children. If your childminder is a member of the Professional Association For Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), they will be committed to offering high-quality learning and care. If your childminder is part of a quality improvement network they can also team up with other childminders on the network to offer sickness cover.
You may have more than one child and many registered childminders care for brothers and sisters together. Your childminder may also be able to take and pick up your children from school.
Best for one-on-one time
Working in their own homes, providing childcare for up to six children at any one time aged from birth until secondary school years, numbers are small so your child gets more one to one time. Registered childminders are part of the local community which means your child will be able to enjoy learning from life experiences such as visits to the local shops or library.
Fully qualified for peace of mind
Registered childminders are usually self-employed and as a parent you can have peace of mind from knowing that childminders are inspected by Ofsted (in England) or the Care and Social Services Inspectorate (in Wales). They have a paediatric first-aid certificate, hold public liability insurance and have to undergo professional training. They are also Criminal Records Bureau checked. In England all registered childminders caring for under 5s deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage, just the same as nurseries.
How do I find my perfect childminder?
PACEY provides parents with information on what to look for when choosing a registered childminder. They offer extensive advice on setting up a contract with your chosen childcarer and how to find a childminder that suits your family’s needs and guidance on paying for childcare.
There are many ways to find a registered childminder and you should always see at least two or three childminders before deciding; most childminders will offer you a settling in period. The best place to start is to ask your local Family Information Service to provide you with a list of registered childminders with places available call: 0800 234 6346. You can also search online at direct.gov.uk for childminders in your area.
You can also visit the Professional Association For Childcare and Early Years website for tips on what to look for in a childminder and an interview checklist for when you visit a childminder’s home. PACEY has a free leaflet “Home from Home” and accompanying film available to download free. Or phone 0800 169 4486 for advice.