The tiney team

The tiney team, tiney HQ

12 July 2024

Thinking about becoming a childminder? At tiney, we know it can be challenging to try and navigate all the information out there and piece things together! In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, and cover all the steps involved in becoming a registered self-employed childminder. We'll also explain other important things like how much you can earn, how long it takes, what it costs, what the registration routes are and what training and qualifications you might need. Opening a childminding business is an amazing career, and by the end of this post we hope you’ll also know if it’s a good fit for you!

In this article we’ll cover all aspects of how to become a childminder, including:

1. What is a childminder?

2. Is becoming a childminder right - for me?

3. What facilities do I need to become a childminder?

4. How much do childminders earn?

5. Your registration options - Ofsted vs. Childminder Agencies

6. How to become a registered childminder, a step-by-step guide

7. Essential need to knows; including working hours, start-up costs, childminder insurance, landlord permission and more

What is a Childminder?

A registered childminder is a self-employed childcare professional who works from their own home, caring for a small group of children. Childminders must be fully registered with either Ofsted or an Ofsted-registered Childminder Agency, like tiney. This differs from a nanny, who cares for children at the children's own home and is an unregulated form of childcare. It also differs from a babysitter, who is employed on an ad hoc basis and doesn't have to be professionally registered either.

As fully registered and regulated Childcare professionals, Childminders also follow the same Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework that nursery practitioners and other early years workers do. As a self-employed childminder with tiney, all childminders are also responsible for their own tax and national insurance contributions, however as part of the tiney package, we’ll help you with everything you need to know in this area!

Is Becoming a Childminder a good fit for me?

First (and most important!) to be a great childminder, you’ll need to love children. You also need to be driven to run your own childcare business and be organised and patient to work well with children, and their parents. You'll also need good 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 via our awesome app).

Qualifications wise, a background in education or a previous childcare setting can be helpful as you’ll be teaching early educational skills as well as providing nurturing care. This isn't essential though and many childminders don't have any formal childcare qualifications or prior education experience. In fact at tiney, 90% of people training to become a childminder are new to childminding and around 40% have never worked in education before. Above all, the most important thing when you register as a childminder 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, but this doesn’t mean a huge property. At tiney we have many great settings run from flats and small homes, the majority of which are rented, not owned. You’ll also need some age appropriate toys and activities, but again, this doesn’t mean spending hundreds of pounds on plastic. If you join tiney, we’ll help you set up a homely, affordable and vibrant learning environment. Outdoor play is also 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 and you’ll need to pass some safety checks at your registration visit. You'll need things like a good first aid kit, fire blanket and other child safety measures in place. As you go through the registration process, you’ll need to have identified any potential hazards in your home and addressed them. If you drive, you’ll also need appropriate car seats for all children in your care.

Beyond your home environment, you will need to have completed some key courses so that you can properly care for children. This will include completing a paediatric first aid course, even if you have a pre-existing 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 professional childcare roles, particularly those at nurseries, becoming a self-employed childminder can offer much better earning prospects. This is because you're both working for yourself and have minimal overheads to pay for. Plus, the UK childcare market is currently short by around a million childcare spaces, so childminders are in huge demand!

The rate you charge will vary according to where you live, but childminding works in all areas of the country due to the need for childcare places being very high in both cities and rural locations. Typically rates can vary from around £5 per hour per child to over £12 per hour per child in places like London.

An average salary for a tiney childminder who cares for two or three children full-time may be anywhere between £27,000 and £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 also hire assistants. Each assistant can look after an additional three children (on average), which allows you to scale up the number of children you look after, covering your assistants wages and making a good margin on top. At tiney, we have supported pathways for childminders looking to add assistants and grow their business in this way. Many childminders use their partner or a family member as an assistant, and many of our settings with 2 working adults registered are earning well over £80,000 per year. We have husband and wife combos, sibling pairings and mother/grandmother teams running great childcare businesses all across England. Often, 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 is a Governmental organisation (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) that regulates childcare providers across all ages, including schools.

The second is with a Childminder Agency (CMA). Childminder Agencies register childminders and help them with training, business support, and finding parents. Childminder Agencies are registered and inspected by Ofsted, and were set up by the Government to offer more support and services than if you go directly to Ofsted (you can read tiney’s glowing 2024 Ofsted report here). If you pick a CMA, that also means that your Registration visit, and subsequent ongoing inspections, will all be done by the agency, rather than by Ofsted.

There are plusses and minuses to both routes depending on what you want from your registration. Registering with Ofsted is generally a slower process with less guidance and ongoing support. Some childminders complain that it's hard to know what to expect when getting inspected by Ofsted and what is required during the Ofsted registration process. However, the benefit is that there are minimal ongoing fees.

Every Childminder Agency is different in the support they offer and we encourage everyone to check out what might be a good fit for them. In recent years tiney has grown to be the most popular and fastest growing CMA in the country, offering a faster registration process than Ofsted, more 1:1 support, and other benefits such as support to find families. Cost wise, our fees and business model are very different to Ofsted, whereby we make our money by charging a fixed % fee on the childcare you deliver. Although this is more expensive than Ofsted, it’s also much more valuable, and on average our childminders earn around 17% more than their Ofsted counterparts, even after the tiney fee.

Overall, our goal at tiney is that childminders would have choice on what suits them best and their choices would speak for themselves. On that point, it’s worth noting that tiney have grown over 300% since Covid, and that last year around half of all new childminders nationally chose to register with tiney. Conversely, Ofsted’s overall childminder registration numbers declined by around 50% in the last decade with thousands choosing to leave the profession just last year.

How to become a registered childminder, a step-by-step guide

Everything you need to know about becoming a childminder.

Step 1 - Check Your Suitability to Become a Childminder

Before starting training as a childminder, it’s a good idea to check your basic suitability to ensure the role is right for you and that your property is suitable. At a glance, these are some of the basic suitability requirements you will need to meet if you join tiney;

  • You are over 21 years old.

  • You do not live in shared or emergency accommodation (shared accommodation means you rent a room and the living area, or other areas that would be required to be run a home nursery, like bathrooms, are communal spaces).

  • Your home is a no-smoking environment (this includes all types of smoking products).

  • You have fewer than 3 children under the age of 5 (your own children count towards the childminder ratios), so if you already have 3 or more children under the age of 5, you will only be able to take on children who are older than 5.

  • You have never had your own children taken in to care by social services.

  • Your home meets the space requirements laid out in the EYFS (these are 3.5m2 per child for Children under 2 years, 2.5m2 per child for 2 years olds and 2.3m2 per child). We know this can be hard to visualise, so booking a call with tiney is a quick way for us to help you check.

  • You and anyone who lives or works on the premises where you will be childminding, who are over the age of 16, consent to completing an Enhanced DBS check

  • You are not aware of any medical condition that would prevent you from working alone caring for young children.

At tiney, we make this suitability check step easy by asking people to complete a basic self-declaration questionnaire which covers all these topics. Compared with Ofsted, this is the quickest and easiest way to check your suitability to become a childminder in one place and get your journey started.

Step 2 - Training to become a childminder; choose Your Pre-Registration Training

As a registered childminder, it's important to recognise that the job entails both helping children and running a small business. Learning and development is a constant habit you’ll need throughout a childminding career and we recommend that anyone considering childminding undertakes an upfront training course to help them understand these aspects of childminding. While there are many courses out there, tiney offers the most complete and high-quality childminder training in England - giving people all the tools and knowledge they need to succeed as a childminder. This includes full EYFS training, business training, paediatric first aid, and more. Tiney training is incredibly thorough, but the cost of joining our training is very reasonable compared with other courses out there and considering everything that’s included. This is because we don't earn money until someone successfully registers and trades. Our business model is not to sell training but to help you open a prosperous childminding business. In this way, we don’t earn until you do!

Step 3 - Pass Suitability Checks, including DBS (disclosure and barring service) criminal background checks and GP Health Checks

Alongside training, you will need to complete statutory background checks and safeguarding requirements as part of your registration. Every childminder, whatever pathway they are on (Ofsted or CMA), needs to do these checks, but with tiney, we make it easier as they can all be done in one place through the tiney app, plus you’ll have a dedicated onboarding adviser who will help to process everything. The checks you will need to pass prior to registration include;

1.DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Check An enhanced DBS check is required for you (the childminder) and anyone aged 16 or over living in the household or regularly present in your home. At tiney, checks you bring with you need to be home based and completed in the last 3 months, and on the DBS update service.

2.DBS Update Service We recommend registering for the DBS update service, which helps keep DBS certificates up to date and allows ongoing monitoring.

3.Health Declaration (GP) A Health Declaration form must be completed and signed by a GP to confirm that you are physically and mentally capable of caring for children.

4. References and Employment History Character references from two people who can vouch for your character will need to be submitted. We will also require your Employment history from the age of 16.

5. Local Authority / Social Services Checks Checks with local authorities or social services will be processed to ensure there are no concerns or previous issues related to safeguarding or child protection involving you (the childminder) or any of your household members.

6. Certificate of Good Character (in some circumstances) Lastly, if you’ve lived abroad in the past five years, you’ll need to submit a certificate of good character from the embassy of the country you lived in.

Please note, as a CMA, we’ll also run ‘known to Ofsted’ checks when you apply, which help us understand any relevant information if you’ve previously been directly registered as a Childminder with Ofsted.

Step 4 - Apply to the Correct Register

Before registering as a childminder, you’ll need to decide on your registration route (at tiney, we also call this your training pathway). As a reminder, to be paid to look after children under 8 in England for more than two hours a day, you must either choose to register with a childminder agency like tiney or register directly with Ofsted. In both cases, you will need to choose a register type based on your pathway, which includes the Early Years Register if you plan to look after children aged 5 and under (that’s from birth up to the 31 August after their 5th birthday) or on the Childcare Register to look after children aged 5 to 7. With tiney, the type of care a childminder wants to offer will determine if they go down our full/standard pathway or our wraparound pathway only.

Step 5 - Prepare for Your Registration Visit

Whether you choose to register directly with Ofsted or with a CMA like tiney, you will always need to pass a home registration visit.

__Unlike Ofsted, at tiney, trainees benefit from an inclusive virtual theory test and home check call ahead of their in-person registration visit. __This is a unique benefit of joining tiney's CMA and one of the biggest reasons our trainees give tiney top marks in our reviews!

A Registration Visit is the final step before registration and is the moment in time when we’ll see you in person, assess your home, chat through your practice and ensure that you're ready to start offering a safe, nurturing, early years environment for children.

As a newly registered childminder, there are ongoing legal requirements to remain safe and compliant. At tiney, we’ll give you a short list of ‘trading tasks’ to complete before you can take on your first customers. This includes doing things like accepting your Insurance, and registering with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Whether you register with Ofsted or with a CMA, you will always have ongoing graded home visits throughout your registration (at tiney, we call these Quality Assurance visits, whereas Ofsted often use the term inspection). However, another benefit of joining tiney is that our ongoing QA visits are every year, rather than every 6 years with Ofsted, which is a valuable way of staying on track and proving your professional standards to families.

That’s all the main steps covered, but what are some of the other need-to-knows you might be thinking about when considering a career in childminding?

Where Do Childminders Work?

Childminders typically work from their own homes, providing a comfortable and familiar family-style setting for children. However, they can also operate for up to 50% of their time on non-domestic premises such as school halls or in community centres. This affords an extra degree of flexibility to help childminders diversify their business. At tiney, Childminders have used this flexibility to offer after-school wraparound clubs, holiday clubs, or run more full time provision from non-domestic commercial premises.

What types of Childminding Roles can I specialise in?

As a registered childminder there are many career routes and specialisms you can pursue. At tiney, we have SEND specialists, childminders with an interest in Forest School or Montessori, bi-lingual tiney homes, and much more. We also regularly support childminders who want to grow their business by adding assistants and becoming the manager of a larger nursery-style setting run from their home.

What qualifications and mandatory training do I need? What else does tiney offer?

The EYFS states that “Childminders must have appropriate qualifications, training, skills, knowledge, and a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities in order to provide good quality early years provision”. At minimum, the level of knowledge you require will therefore include;

  • Paediatric First Aid Training: Essential for all childminders.

  • EYFS Training: Meaning you can demonstrate and apply knowledge from the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.

  • Safeguarding Training: To ensure the safety and welfare of children.

Many childminders hold further formal qualifications, such as a level 3 childcare qualification or childcare degree, but gaining these can be expensive. With tiney, you’ll get a host of extra training on top of the basics (irrespective of your prior experience), which is one of the reasons the tiney process is so popular, straight-forward and cost-effective.

Working Hours

Childminding offers highly flexible working hours, making it a great full-time career or a brilliant part-time option that fits around family life. Many childminders work five days a week, but you can choose your days and hours to suit your needs. At tiney, our childminders have a wide range of working hours, offering flexibility to both childminders and parents.

What are the Start-Up costs?

Registration Costs

Every registration route (Ofsted or CMA) will include some costs. With tiney these are;

DBS checks - £44 per check. Required for you and every member of your household (over 16). The annual update service costs an additional £13.

GP health check - £20-£75 Variable based on your local GP’s pricing. Also available for £75 via tiney’s partner GP service.

Paediatric First Aid Course - £80 with tiney discount In-person paediatric first aid training is essential, whether you register with Ofsted or a CMA like tiney. Tiney trainees can get discounted high-quality paediatric first aid training with our partner Tigerlily.

Startup Grants, training fees and home setup costs

In terms of Grants, new childminders can currently benefit from a £1200 Government start-up grant (available until March 2025), which is double the amount you’ll get if you join Ofsted. This £1200 grant amount is not available if you register directly with Ofsted and is a huge benefit of becoming a childminder with CMA like tiney.

When you join tiney you’ll also pay a Joining Fee (starting from £180) to access our essential training on your chosen pathway.

Lastly, we recommend setting aside £100-£300 for home setup costs. Each home will have different needs in this area - if you have little ones of your own, you might not need to spend very much at all!

The £1200 grant is claimed in two tranches, £600 upon registration, and £600 when you start trading. This means that taking all essential costs into account, new childminders should be left with at least £400 towards other costs when claiming their £1200 grant.

Childminder Insurance

All childminders must be insured to work. Tiney includes all necessary insurances as part of your ongoing fee, with comprehensive coverage through our provider and underwriter, Morton Michel.

Equipment and Repairs

There are some ongoing costs associated with being a childminder, including equipment, consumables (like nappies and food) plus one off costs for wear and tear. Tiney’s goal is to help childminders set up high-quality settings without needing significant outlay for equipment, with a focus on creating vibrant learning environments without expensive or gimmicky toys.

How long does it take to become a childminder?

The process of becoming a childminder can be as quick as a few weeks, but typically takes a few months. One of the biggest factors in registering successfully is the time it can take to process all the background checks, which is why at tiney we encourage people to submit these early and why we include an dedicated onboarding adviser to support every trainee. Other than that, registration time is often determined by your own appetite to get going - tiney’s training can be completed in 15-30 hours (depending on your experience and pathway), with some extra time needed for your in person first aid and any time required to adapt your home.

Do I need permission from my landlord?

Here it’s best to check your rental agreement, but we always suggest obtaining written permission from your landlord. If they have questions or reservations, tiney can discuss the registration requirements and risk assessment with them and provide template letters to aid your request.

How many children can a childminder look after?

Individual Childminders can care for no more than 6 children under 8 years old, including their own children. Only three can be younger than 5, and only one can be under a year old. By hiring an assistant, childminders can increase these numbers and expand their ratio. You can also care for children above the age of 8, who are not counted in your ratios.

No more questions, what next?! We hope you’ve found this article informative and useful as you think about the possibility of a career in Childminding. If you have further questions we’d encourage you to book an informal chat with one of our tiney advisers to find out more!

The tiney team profile img

The tiney team

tiney HQ

Founded in 2018

Find a tiney childminder near you

Search nationwide for quality assured, safe & flexible childcare

Want to join tiney?

Global Goals Logos
MeaningFul Business Logos

Business with a deep rooted social purpose

As part of our commitment to social impact we have pledged to play our part in meeting the 2030 Global Goals initiative around Quality Education set by World Leaders. We are also proud to be part of the Meaningful Business Network. Learn more.

© 2024 International House, 12 Constance Street, London, E16 2DQ

Tiney Limited (Firm Reference Number: 902967) is a registered EMD agent of Modulr FS Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 09897919, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Electronic Money Institution (Firm Reference Number: 900573) for the issuance of electronic money and payment services. Your account and related payment services are provided by Modulr FS Limited. Whilst Electronic Money products are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) your funds will be held in one or more segregated accounts and safeguarded in line with the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 – for more information please see here.