This page explains about childminders and what they can offer you and your family.
What kind of service do childminders provide? SHOW
Childminders should be registered with Ofsted to be able to look after other people's children in their own home. They can offer and provide individually tailored care in a home environment as well as linking with other services in the local community such as children’s centres, pre-schools, schools and toddler groups. They can also take your child to local parks, playgrounds, libraries and community events.
The facts SHOW
- A childminder is a person providing care for one or more children aged between birth and 18, to whom they are not related
- They are allowed to care for up to six children under the age of 8, including their own, but only three of them can be aged under 5 (although variations can be made in the case of twins, etc.)
- Childminders are flexible and all work different hours, so you can discuss with the childminder what they can offer to meet your children’s individual needs
- All registered childminders are required to undertake a basic training course, including first aid, and most go on to do further training and professional development
- Childminders must be registered and regulated by Ofsted if they care for children under 8 years old.
- If they care for reception age children or younger, they are first inspected and registered and then within 30 months have a second inspection where they receive a grading (Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate)
- It is good practice for childminders who only look after children aged 8 and older to be registered on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register
- If a childminder is caring for pre-school children they can follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, so your pre-school child should experience learning and development activities suitable for their stage of development
- Most childminders use Learning Stories to record the progress of the pre-school children in their care
- Some childminders are trained and able to support children with additional needs
- Most childminders are registered to offer the free early education and childcare offer for 3- and 4-year-olds and eligible 2-year-olds
- Some childminders offer Flexicare for older children
Is it for me? SHOW
- I need flexible care because I work irregular hours which don’t correspond to a normal 8am-6pm nursery day
- I want my child to be cared for in a family home
- I want my child to have one carer
- I have a pre-school child and a school-aged child and it’s important they’re cared for together
- I’m good at saying what I want
- Mixing with large groups of children isn’t a priority right now
- My child would cope better in a home environment than in a group setting
Are childminders registered? SHOW
All childminders who care for children under the age of 8 for more than two hours a day must be registered and inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). Ofsted carry out regular checks on the home and childminder to ensure:
- The care and learning they provide meets the Early Years Foundation Stage
- They and their homes are safe and suitable
What’s more, all adults (16+) living and working in the homes of childminders caring for children under 8 will be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Childminders who care for children aged 8 and over can be registered on the Voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register.
Childminders in Southampton are supported by the Southampton City Council Early Years and Childcare Team to help them improve their quality, flexibility, affordability, accessibility and inclusion.
How much does a childminder cost? SHOW
Childminders generally charge an hourly rate. The rate can vary depending on hours, age and whether they offer discounts for more than one child.
You will need to negotiate hours, terms and conditions with your childminder. Rates may vary. Sometimes hourly rates for children attending school are higher than those for the under 5s. Childminders can offer flexible rates, and can accept employers’ childcare vouchers. Parents claiming Working Tax Credit can claim the Childcare Element when using an Ofsted registered childminder.
Can a Southampton childminder provide the free early years 2-, 3- & 4-year funded places? SHOW
Childminders can provide 3- & 4-year-old funded places.
Childminders who have an 'Outstanding' or 'Good' Ofsted rating can offer 2-year-old funded places.
How flexible can childminders be with the hours they offer? SHOW
Childminders are flexible and all work different hours. You can discuss what they can offer to meet your family's needs. Childminders may be able to offer flexible hours, part time, full time, term time, holidays and some weekends, to suit you and your child's commitments. They can support children of all ages if they have vacancies in the required age group. Some childminders are registered to offer overnight care.
Do I have to have a contract with my childminder? SHOW
Agreeing a written contract at the beginning of any agreements with your childminder can help you avoid any misunderstandings at a later stage.
You may find it difficult to discuss money and childcare preferences, however it is important that everyone clearly understands what is being agreed by both parties at the very start of and agreement.
Suggestions of what should be included in your contract?
- Any retainer fee / deposit to secure your child's place – how much needs to be agreed
- The amount you pay for the childcare, and what it covers (for example nappies, food, days out)
- The hours/days your child will attend – any additional hours you may require
- Any personal additions, things you would like the child to do or not do e.g. limiting sweet treats
- Payment for time off during holidays, statutory public holidays and holiday notice periods
- What you pay if your child or the carer is sick
- Notice of termination of the contract and notice payment
- Start date for the contract and review date
Once the details of the contract have been understood and agreed by both parties, it should then be signed and dated by all with each party keeping a copy. This then becomes a legally binding document that is enforceable by law.
If you have any concerns about signing your contract you can contact Citizens Advice. The Southampton Family Information Service can provide some general advice but cannot advise on legal matters.
Choosing a childminder – questions to ask SHOW
- Have you any vacancies?
- How long have you been childminding?
- What extra training have you done?
- What other children do you care for, and how old are they?
- Are you an inclusive setting and what particular knowledge and expertise do you have to enable you to care for children with SEND?
- Can you supply me with references?
- Do you charge for sick days and holidays?
- Do you have a copy of your policies or a prospectus?
- Do you have a copy of your latest Ofsted Inspection Report?
- Which rooms do you use for childminding? (They should show you round)
- Where will my child sleep? (Make sure it is quiet)
- How do you spend the day and how will the other children’s schedules fit in with my child?
- What outings and experiences do you offer the children?
- Do you provide properly-fitted car seats?
- What kind of meals and drinks do you provide?
- Do you keep a file about a child’s progress? Most childminders use Learning Stories
- Do you offer a settling in period?
- Look to see the childminder’s up-to-date registration/approval, public liability insurance and first aid certificates on display
- Check all rooms and the garden are registered and insured; otherwise your child will be excluded from those areas
- Ask how many other adults will be in the house
- Agree on feeding, learning, TV watching and discipline policies, etc.
- It is very important to discuss the contract; it should cover hours, pay, sickness, holiday and bank holiday pay. Remember to keep the signed contract safe so you can refer to it in the future
- Ask whether the childminder can provide funded early education for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds
- Ask whether they offer 'blended provision' and will take your child to a local pre-school and pick them up afterwards if you choose to use this option when your child is old enough (it is possible to share the funding between two settings)
Where can I find a childminder in my local area?
You can search for childminders near you in our directory.