Thinking about becoming a childminder? It can be challenging to try and piece everything together yourself.
But never fear, we're here to help. In this article, we take you through all the steps involved to becoming a registered childminder. We'll also explain other important things like how much you can earn and what training and qualifications you need. That way you can figure out whether childminding is for you and how to go through with it if so.
In this article:
- What is a childminder?
- Is becoming a childminder right for me?
- What facilities do I need to become a childminder?
- How much do childminders earn?
- Your registration options - Ofsted vs. Childminder Agencies
- What you need to know before registering with Ofsted
- How to register as a childminder with Ofsted
- How to register as a childminder with a Childminder Agency
- How much does it cost to become a childminder?
- What training and qualifications do I need to become a childminder?
- Marketing your childminder business
What is a childminder?
A registered childminder is a childcare professional who works from their own home caring for a small group of children.
This differs from a nanny, who cares for children at the children's home and doesn't have to be registered with Ofsted. It also differs from a babysitter, who is employed on an ad hoc basis and doesn't have to be registered either.
Childminders are fully registered with Ofsted or an Ofsted-registered Childminder Agency. They follow the same Early Years Foundation Stage framework that nursery practitioners and other early years workers do.
Is becoming a childminder right for me?
There's no getting around it. You need to love children to be a great childminder. You also need to be driven to run your own childcare business.
You’ll need bags of patience to deal with the ups and downs of working with children. You'll need good organisation and admin skills as part of the job involves keeping detailed paperwork (though if you join a Childminder Agency such as tiney, you’ll get help with this).
A background in education or previous childcare providers of other kinds can be helpful as you’ll be teaching basic educational skills as well as providing core care. This isn't essential though and many childminders don't have any formal education background. The most important thing is that you love being around children and are passionate about helping them develop through your childminding business.
What facilities do I need to become a childminder?
You’ll need a home with space for several children. You’ll need toys and activities suitable to their ages. Outdoor play is a vital part of early years care so you'll need access to an outdoor space, even if this is a nearby park outside of your domestic premises.
To look after children, your home must be properly safeguarded. You'll need a good first aid kit, fire safety and child safety devices. It also means that you've identified any potential hazards in your home and addressed them. If you drive, you’ll also need appropriate infant car seats too.
Beyond facilities, you will need to have completed some key courses so that you can properly safeguard children. This can include completing a pediatric first aid course, even if you have a regular first aid certificate.
Childminder Agencies like tiney can offer guidance on what safeguarding involves and how you can meet the safeguarding requirements to become a childminder.
How much do childminders earn?
Compared with many other childcare provider roles, childminding can be a lucrative career. This is because you're working for yourself and have minimal overheads to pay for, like office space.
The rate you charge will vary according to where you live, with fees being higher in cities than more rural areas. These vary from under £5 per hour per child to over £8 per hour per child.
An average salary for a childminder who cares for two or three children full-time may be anywhere between £25-£40,000. If you offer wraparound care as well, this can be even more.
If you're ambitious and want to grow your business, you can hire assistants. Each assistant can look after an additional three children, which allows you to scale up the amount of children you look after.
The earning potential is much more when you work with assistants. At tiney, our top earning 10% of childminders in London earn as much as £80,000 with assistants. Many childminders use their partner or a family member as an assistant.
Finding and training your own assistant can be a challenge, which is why CMAs like tiney often support you with this process.
Your registration options - Ofsted vs. Childminder Agencies
There are two different ways you can register as a childminder.
The first is through Ofsted. Ofsted are a governmental organisation that regulates childcare services.
The second is with a Childminder Agency. Childminder Agencies register childminders and help them with training, business support and finding parents. Childminder Agencies are registered and inspected by Ofsted so rather than Ofsted inspecting you, your Agency will.
There are plusses and minuses to both routes. Registering with Ofsted is generally a slower process with less guidance and support. Some childminders complain that it's hard to know what to expect when getting inspected by Ofsted and what is required during the Osted registration process. However, the benefit is that there are minimal ongoing fees.
Every Childminder Agency is different in the support they offer. But nearly all of them offer a faster registration process than Ofsted, more 1:1 support and other benefits such as support to find families. The trade-off is you pay ongoing fees to be a part of them.
What you need before you register with Ofsted
If you decide to register with Ofsted, you will need the following:
- a criminal record check, in the form of an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for you and for anyone aged over 16 in your home.
- If you lived abroad during the past five years, you’ll need a certificate from the embassy of that country, providing evidence of good character.
- references from two people who can vouch for your character. You can use this template we've created.
- to complete a health declaration form, which needs your GP’s signature.
- training on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. This framework lays out how you'll be supporting children's development. During your registration visit, you will be tested on your knowledge of the EYFS.
These can take several weeks to complete so allow yourself plenty of time.
How to register as a childminder with Ofsted
If you decide to register with Ofsted, you must register on one or other of the following registers:
- The Early Years Register if you will be looking after children under the age of five.
- The Childcare Register if you look after five-to eight-year-olds.
There is a registration fee of £35 and it includes a home inspection that includes:
- risk-assessing your home
- making sure your English is to a high enough standard to care for children
- questions about how you intend to care for children and make sure their learning needs are met i.e. the EYFS framework.
You are only allowed one inspection, so make sure you're ready. Once complete, you’ll receive a registration certificate and a Unique Reference Number, which will be published online with your inspection reports.
If you are based:
- in Northern Ireland, you should register with the Northern Ireland Childminding Association
- in Scotland you should register with the Scottish Childminding Association
- in Wales you should register with the Care Inspectorate Wales.
How to register as a childminder with a Childminder Agency
The alternative route to registering with Ofsted is with a Childminder Agency. Each Childminder Agency has a different registration process. For some, you will need to come with some of your pre-registration already completed (i.e. DBS checks, GP checks etc.). For others, like tiney, they'll walk you through the process and even pay for some of them for you.
To kick-off the registration process, get in touch with the Childminder Agency you're interested in and they'll let you know what you need to do. tiney's registration process starts here, for example.
How much does it cost to become a childminder?
The start-up costs can vary, but you should expect to spend anywhere between £500-1000. Most of the costs come at the beginning when registering and setting up. Some of the things you'll need to pay for include:
- DBS Checks for you and your family (over the age of 18);
- Signing up to the DBS Update Service to renew your DBS Check on an annual basis;
- Your GP Health Declaration Form to prove you're in good health;
- EYFS Training (unless you're with a Childminding Agency like tiney, or your Local Authority covers it for you);
- Safety equipment such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers.
- An initial amount of toys and activities
- Public Liability insurance
- Annual fees surrounding updating checks and certificates
Some CMAs like tiney help cover start-up fees to make it cheaper for you to set-up.
What training and qualifications do I need to become a childminder?
If you are registering with Ofsted, you must complete a training course recognised by the register(s) you apply for – the Early Years Register and/or the Childcare Register. Your Local Authority could be helpful here and it's worth reaching out to them.
Courses are run by Local Authorities and professional bodies such as PACEY. They should cover setting up your business, child safety, activities and play suitable, how to provide an inclusive environment and how to liaise with parents. Childminder Agencies often include training as part of their sign-up process such as safeguarding children.
As well as EYFS training, you must take a course in paediatric first aid. This must be renewed every three years. Popular courses include First Aid 4 Live and the British Red Cross. These can cost anywhere between £120-200. If you register with Ofsted, you'll have to cover this yourself. Some Childminder Agencies like tiney will cover this cost for you as part of the registration process.
There may also be additional ad hoc trainings according to seasonality, government changes or current events. For example, childminding agencies like tiney may provide guidance around additional safeguarding procedures during coronavirus. You can also review childcare policies directly on gov.uk.
Marketing your childminder business
As an independent business owner, you are responsible for marketing your services. Knowing where to start can be pretty overwhelming! That's why many Childminder Agencies like tiney support you with this process.
Most experienced childminders find their customers through word-of-mouth referrals. The challenge is getting this moving when you first start. Customers can't refer you if you don't have any customers. That means at the beginning you have to manually market your services. Over time, you'll be able to rely more and more on word-of-mouth.
At tiney, we always recommend our childminder to start marketing as soon as possible.
Here are a few ideas you can use to kick off advertising your services:
- Create your own website profile to promote yourself.
- Print out leaflets and flyers and distributing them in your local area at places where families go, such as the GP surgery, play centres, school gates
- Advertise in local family magazines and websites, the council’s website, in libraries.
- Create your own social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.
- Interact in local Facebook Groups.
- Contact your local primary schools to see if they will recommend you for wraparound care.
- Run toddler groups and holiday camps over the school holidays and promote this in local Facebook groups.
- Sign up to website like Childcare.co.uk.
A really important part of marketing is understanding the ways you might stand out from other childminders. Have you got a large garden? Can you offer facilities for children with special needs? Are you a former teacher? If so, shout about it!
If you’ve decided that becoming a childminder is right for you, tiney can help you get started. In your first year, you’ll get £3000 of value including Early Years training, registration support, DBS checks and first aid training. You'll access one-to-one support from tiney’s experienced team and receive business coaching, free marketing materials, support with admin and access to a friendly community of childminders just like you. If interested, you can go here to find out more.