Childminding, the facts
Whenever I tell people I’m a childminder, I am often asked lots of questions about what, when, why, how, so thought I’d use this opportunity to let you know what we are about.
I can only speak for my local area in Hertfordshire, but prior to registration we had to complete a 10 week course, consisting of 1 evening per week of around two and a half hours. It is not a strenuous or taxing course by any means, but it offered a lot of good ideas, and points of reflection, which as a mother alone I found extremely useful!
After completing the course you have various forms to complete and a check with the Criminal Records Bureau for yourself, and anyone else under 16, who may be on the premises at the same time as the children.
There follows the inspection of your premises. From memory my Inspector was here for over 3 hours! However, they are not there to trip you up, but to advise on points of safety. For instance, I had to have the bathroom locks raised, and install safety catches, fire blankets etc.
At the time, this was all provided for the cost of £10.
Within 6 months of being registered you have to attend a First Aid Course. Other courses are also available and are fast becoming obligatory on Risk Assessment, Safeguarding Children, Food and Hygiene etc. All are provided locally and each cost around £10.
Then it is up to you to decide on what cover you are providing, what hours you would like to work and how many children you are prepared to take on. There are strict rules however; you are not allowed to take on more than 3 children under 5, and no more than 1 child under 1. Your own children are included within these numbers.
As an Ofsted registered childminder you are automatically included on the local council’s website. There are various other means of advertising, which you would have to pay for, but to be honest I have never had to use them.
Once you start minding, you will have another Ofsted inspection so that the Inspector can see you working/interacting with the children. This inspection will be graded. Mine lasted around 5 hours, but again the Inspector was very helpful indeed.
After this you will be further inspected every 3 years.
It is important to remember that you are self employed; your client is not employing you! We were provided with National Childminding Association (NCMA) contracts, which cover all bases, as well as all the other forms you require. For example, if the child has a bump or is ill, then it has to be recorded, as much for your own cover as anything else.
There is a lot of talk about the amount of paperwork required, and this caused a big storm when the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was introduced in 2008. A lot of it was caused because we were expected to provide the same level of paperwork as schools are, but now that the dust has settled, it is all fine and manageable. For children under 5 you are expected to monitor their progress and complete forms to show how they are doing under the six areas of development highlighted; Physical Development, Creative Development etc.
In simple terms, every six weeks or so you are required to record observations on the children, to provide proof of development within these areas. Simply a photo and a few lines is all that is required.
For me this is the best job in the world. I have the freedom to work within my home, hours and days to suit. I actually go out to “play” most mornings, and I love that the children and I are highly visible in the community, be it the library, park, playgroup or farm etc. I am often asked how we cope with such numbers of children to mind, but the reality is that childminding children pretty much do as they are asked, because we are not mum. All too often I have beautifully behaved children all day, laughing, joking, singing and playing. The minute mum or dad, well actually sorry, mainly mum turns up, they often turn into the child from hell. This is because they are programmed to push the boundaries within the safety of their mother’s love, and do not feel the need to with others.
I hope that answers a few questions, if not feel free to contact me if you need any further information!
Thanks for enduring