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How to become a childminder

Have you ever wanted to care for children? To provide them with a stimulating, educational home away from home setting where they can flourish and thrive? Then becoming a childminder could be the career for you!

What is a childminder?

A childminder is someone who cares for children within the childminders home. You are responsible for the safety, care, well being and development of children from a number of different families, all of whom may have different religious, cultural and dietary requirements.

As a childminder, you are responsible for planning age appropriate, stimulating activities, a safe and secure environment and a place where parents trust that their children are being cared for in the best way.

As a childminder, you must be registered with Ofsted and comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (for children aged 0-5 years).

Responsibilities of a childminder

As a childminder you would:

  • Make sure that the children you are looking after feel secure, and are safe, warm and well fed
  • Provide enabling environments for the children’s learning, development and emotional well being
  • Work in partnership with parents to enable the best care
  • Support children and their families through changes, transitions and individual needs
  • Plan, prepare and serve meals based on dietary needs
  • Provide a range of play activities, both indoors and outside, to help children develop, showing planning for different areas of learning and age ranges.
  • Complete the planning, observation and assessment cycle
  • Take children on outings, for example to the park or to toddler groups, with permission from parents, and planned in advance
  • Follow Ofsted guidelines
  • Comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework of; Learning and Development; Assessment; and Safeguarding and Welfare.
  • Maintain your own professional development practice, keeping up to date with changes in legislation and practice
  • Attend regular courses to keep your own knowledge and practice up to date and relevant to the needs of children within your care
  • Keep paperwork in order, up to date and secure (compliant with GDPR guidelines), including; policies and procedures; observations; local authority correspondence; personal emails
  • Sharing information
  • Working with multi-agencies
  • Adhere to safeguarding and well-being legislation

You would need to carry out parents' requests concerning their children's diet, routines and religion, and share information about their children with them. You would also need to comply with registration requirements of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) and the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

Becoming a Childminder

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a childminder but you do need to be aged 18 or over. You also need to be registered with Ofsted if you intend to care for a child or children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day and attend on-going training days.

Your first step to becoming a registered childminder is to contact the E​arly Years team at your Local Authority.​ You will be given information about becoming a childminder, an application pack and details of the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

The EYFS sets out the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. It focuses on areas like communication skills, physical and emotional development, as well as more specific development areas such as numeracy, literacy and understanding the world. It also lays out the conditions you need to meet for the safety and wellbeing of the child or children under your care.

To become a childminder, you will need to;

  • Be a homeowner, or have an agreement with the leaseholder of your property to be able to run a business
  • Have an Ofsted home inspection and an interview to make sure you are a suitable person to care for children
  • Have a medical check-up
  • Provide 2, checkable references
  • Complete an introductory training course, such as Little Ones Early Years Care and Education Course, which outlines all aspects of caring for children and an introduction to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework
  • Complete a 12-hour paediatric first-aid course (which needs to be renewed every 3 years)
  • You will also need a police clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for yourself and anyone else in your home aged over 16
  • Have appropriate insurance cover, including Public Liability Insurance
  • Be self-employed

There is a fee of £35 to register with Ofsted, and an application process that you will need to complete. Approval of your registration to work as a childminder can take up to 12 weeks.

Which Ofsted Register?

There are two Ofsted registers: The Early Years Register and the Childcare Register.

As a childminder, if you care for children aged 0-5 years, you will need to register on the Early Years Register.

If you are solely caring for children aged 5-8 years then you will need to be on the Childcare Register.

Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures go hand-in-hand to clarify what your childminding business wants to do and how to do it. It is up to you as a childminder to have policies and procedures in place before starting off your business, as this will be part of the Ofsted requirements to care for children.

Policies

Policies are clear, simple statements of how your organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making - Policies don't need to be long or complicated – a couple of sentences may be all you need.

Procedures

Procedures describe how each policy will be put into action in your organisation. Each procedure should outline:

  • Who will do what
  • What steps they need to take
  • Which forms or documents to use.

Procedures might just be a few bullet points or instructions. Sometimes they work well as forms, checklists, instructions or flowcharts.

Policies and their accompanying procedures will vary between workplaces because they reflect the values, approaches and commitments of a specific organisation and its culture. But they share the same role in guiding your organisation.

Childminders Policies:

The Early Years Foundation Stage states that while childminders do not need to have written policies and procedures, they must be able to explain their policies and procedures to parents, carers and Ofsted inspectors as well as to ensure that any assistants or co-childminders adhere to them. Having written policies and procedures is considered good practice and is the easiest way of passing the information to others

Here is a list of statutory policies and procedures:

  • Behaviour Management
  • Missing child
  • Risk assessment
  • Safeguarding children
  • Smoking
  • Medication administration
  • Concerns and complaints
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Health and safety
  • Visitors
  • Failure to collect
  • Equality of opportunity

It is important to get the parents to read and sign copies of your procedures to prove that they have read, understood and agreed with them. You must also keep the parents up to date with any changes you make to them, and each policy should be reviewed on an annual basis.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework

As a childminder caring for children aged 0-5, the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework must be followed. This includes the 3 legal requirements of; the Educational programme (learning and development), assessment processes; and the safeguarding and welfare requirements.

Educational Programme:

Educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children. There are seven key areas to cover in any educational programme. A lot of these areas interconnect and compliment each other and will already be areas in which the activities you plan will cover.

They are

  • Communication and language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

Childminders working with the youngest children are expected to focus strongly on the three prime areas (highlighted above), which are the basis for successful learning in the other four specific areas. The three prime areas reflect the key skills all children need to develop and learn effectively, and become ready for school.

Childminders are expected to plan, implement and teach a varied activity plan covering these 7 areas, taking into account the age and stage of development each child in their care is at.

When planning activities, you need to also consider:

  • Playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
  • Active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
  • Creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

Other childminder requirements

As a childminder, you will be opportune as a sole agent, running your own business from your own home. This means registering your business with HMRC and becoming self-employed

As you are providing a service to parents, a contract should be built by both parties agreeing to terms and conditions. Contracts should include the following:

  • Hours of childminding
  • Payment for childminding
  • Payment for absences
  • Who is responsible for payment?
  • Date payment is due (It is recommended that payment be made in advance i.e. the first day of the week or month that the child attends)
  • Who will provide meals?
  • Who will provide equipment?

The contract needs to be signed by all parties and copies provided. The contract will be valuable evidence of terms that were agreed if there is a dispute later about the details of the contract, or there are fees owed to the childminder and if the childminder needs to take legal action.

Childminder Checklist:

To recap, to become a childminder you must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be a homeowner, or have consent to operate a business from your home
  • Contact your local authority (in the borough or council that you reside in)
  • Register with Ofsted
  • Provide two checkable references
  • Set up your business legally, registering with HMRC as self-employed
  • Have an inspection and interview by Ofsted in your home
  • Complete a full DBS police check
  • DBS checks need to be done on all other people who live within your home, who are over the age of 16 years
  • Complete an introductory course in early years with reference to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (like the Little Ones, 1 day Early Years Care and Education Course) - and know how to put it into practice
  • Complete a 12 hour paediatric first aid course (and renew every 3 years)
  • Have public liability insurance
  • Be prepared to invest in you with continued professional development (CPD) courses and information
  • Build policies and procedures around your setting
  • Have contracts in place

This information is provided for you to make the process of registering as a childminder with Ofsted easier for you to achieve. It is by following these steps you will be able to realise your dream of caring for children within your own home, becoming a business owner and becoming a fully registered childminder.

Little Ones Training for Childminders

Little Ones Training and Education can help you on the way to becoming a childminder. We offer a 1 day course which will count as your introductory course in early years. We also offer regular 12 hour paediatric first aid courses to fit around your own schedule, as well as continued professional development (CPD) course to keep your practice up to date, and giving you the opportunity to invest in yourself and your knowledge.

If you would like to find out more information about the Early Years Care and Education Course offered by Little Ones Training & Education, which gives an introductory guide to becoming a childminder, the common core skills needed to care for children, safeguarding requirements and the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, then please visit our courses page. This course has been accredited by the Open College Network (OCN London) to give childminders the accredited certification needed to take the step to becoming a childminder.

With paediatric first aid, we run regular 12 hour paediatric first aid courses 3 times a week, making it easier to for you to complete your course before registering as a childminder. It is then easy to update your paediatric first aid certificate every 3 years, as required by Ofsted.

We also offer other courses to help with your continued professional development. Including courses in Safeguarding and Learning to Read. Our Learn to Read Course is a guide to phonetics and phonics in the early years and a must for anyone providing care to children working through the specific Literacy area of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

For more information regarding any of our childcare courses, please contact us on 0207 112 8057 or visit our course page: (https://www.littleoneslondon.co.uk/childcare-courses)

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