Returning to work can be a daunting experience; having to meet new people, travelling to a new area, learning new skills and sorting out childcare.
Let Tracey Warden, Childminding Coordinator at Sheringham Children’s Centre, offer some guidance in helping you choose the right childminder for you and your family.
What is a childminder and what do they offer?
Put simply, childminders are registered with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education). They offer a home-from-home childcare setting, looking after small groups of children of different ages and from different families.
Childminders can offer:
- Flexible childcare from birth to eight years and older.
- Free 15 hours childcare for eligible 2 year olds
- Free NEG3 places for 3 and 4 year olds
- High quality professional service
- Drop-off and collect from local schools/Places of work/Study and settings.
- Activities and experiences that support and develop children’s learning and development
How to find a registered childminder
- Plan ahead as early as possible for your child’s care. (3-6 months if possible)
- Ask for a list of childminders from the local authority or local children’s centre for the area where you live or work in.
- Contact several childminders (so you can make a choice) and arrange to visit them with your child.
- Visit 2 or 3 three times and then follow this with a visit when you may leave your child for an hour or so with the childminder.
- Read the childminders latest inspection report if you want more detailed information – ask the childminder for a copy or check on the Ofsted website. ofsted.gov.uk
- Try to speak to other parents about their experiences of the childcare provider.
What to consider when choosing a Childminder.
It is important that you are happy to leave your child in the minder’s care, and that you feel the Childminder will respond to your child’s needs. You should consider the following points when making your choice:
- How many children are looked after during the day?
- Do you need to supply nappies, toiletries or milk?
- Check it is it a non-smoking household?
- Is there a good selection of books, toys and play materials for children?
- Does the childminder take them to visit other places e.g. parks, libraries, stay and play sessions?
- Are there any pets? If so where are they kept while children are around?
- What meals, snacks and drinks are the children given?
- Discuss how the provider deals with different issues (such as settling your child in when they first start, discipline and dietary needs).
- Ask to see their written policies.
Remember to ALWAYS check that the childminder is:
- Ofsted registered (Office for Standards in Education)
- Qualified in Childcare and Education (Early Years Foundation Stage)
- CRB/DBS checked- Police checked.
- Paediatric First Aid qualified
- Fully insured
As Childminders are self-employed the costs vary and will need to be agreed between you and the childminder.
- An agreement/contract should be drawn up and signed by both yourself and the childminder stating the hours, days, fee payable and any other conditions agreed. This will help avoid any disagreements or problems later on.
- A trial period can also be written into the contract, which leaves you and the childminder free to terminate the arrangement should it be necessary to do so.