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Becoming a childminder

What are childminders?

Childminders work from their own home and offer professional childcare and early education to children. They tend to work alone and care for a small number of children at any one time. Childminders can work on their own or with up to two other childminders; if they choose to work with another childminder they can look after more children at the same time.

A childminder is registered with Ofsted or an Ofsted registered childminder agency to provide childcare from their own home.

Childminders will set their own working hours sometimes in consultation with parents or carers. The hours a childminder may choose to work can range from early mornings (before 7am) to late evenings (after 7pm). The childminder can also look after children overnight, provided this is included in the registration.

The current legal requirements within the Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework states that most childminders can look after up to six children under the age of eight years old, three of which can be under five, with one of these aged under one year. Variations to this can be requested in individual circumstances. In all cases the numbers of children aged less than eight years old must not exceed six. This number includes the childminder’s own children. Any care provided for older children must not negatively impact on the care of the younger children.

The registers

There are different types of register that a childminder can choose to register on, depending on the age of children they want to look after. Many childminders choose to register on all three. Please note that Ofsted charge an application fee which will be confirmed at point of registration.

 

The Early Years Register – for providers caring for children aged from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday; providers on this register must meet the ‘Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework’

The Childcare Register – this has two parts:

Part A: Compulsory – for providers caring for children from 1 September after the child's fifth birthday up until their eighth birthday

Part B: Voluntary – for providers caring for children aged eight and over, and other providers who are exempt from compulsory registration, such as nannies

Step 1: Research

Before setting up your childminding business, you may find it helpful to read through the latest childcare sufficiency assessment report. This will help you find out about the local supply and demand for childminders in your area.

You can also think about the services you will offer, for example will you drop off and pick up children from local schools or nurseries - if so which schools and nurseries in your area have a demand for this service.

Look around your local area for free or low cost activities you can go to with the children, bearing in mind they would need to be suitable for all ages of the children you look after. 


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Step 2: Necessary checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

You and anyone who will be working with you or lives in your home and is over 16 years old must have a criminal record check. This is known as a DBS check. There is a fee for these and each person must apply for their own check online through the Ofsted DBS portal. It is recommended to also apply for the DBS update service which helps you to keep your certificate up to date.

As part of the DBS check they work with a number of different organisations and departments including but not limited to 

  • Police forces
  • ACRO Criminal Records Office
  • Responsible organisations
  • Registered bodies – an organisation that is registered with DBS to submit standard, enhanced and enhanced with barred lists DBS checks

 

Health declaration

As part of the registration you will need to complete a health declaration form and get this signed by your GP. There will more than likely be a fee from your GP surgery for this service.


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Step 3: Training

As a childminder there are several training courses you will need to attend. If you are registering with an approved childminder agency please refer to their training policies.

Childminders must have appropriate qualifications, training, skills, knowledge and understaniding of their role, this would include the Early Years Foundation Stage and how to implement it.  

Paediatric first aid training

By an approved Ofsted provider, the course should be a minimum of 12 hours.

 

The Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework Annex A details the criteria for effective paediatric first aid training.  

 

Safeguarding children / child protection training

The childminder will be responsible for liaison with local statutory children’s services agencies, and with the Local Safeguarding Partners (LSP). The childminder must attend a child protection training course that enables them to identify, understand and respond appropriately to signs of possible abuse and neglect as described in Section 3 – The safeguarding and welfare requirements of the statutory framework.

Safeguarding Bedfordshire has appropriate training available on their website.

English language skills

Childminders and their assistants must have a sufficient understanding and use of English to ensure the well-being of children in their care. 

For help improving your English language skills please see the Luton Adult Learning website

Step 4: Registration

The details below are for those registering with Ofsted directly. If you are registering with a childminder agency please follow their processes and guidance.

You may find it helpful to read the Ofsted: Early Years blog post 'Calling all early years applicants'.

Once you have completed your training, but before registering with Ofsted, please contact Luton Early Years team childminding@luton.gov.uk to arrange a visit to access advice, support and guidance to assist you towards your Ofsted registration visit.

You will need: 

  • an enhanced check with barred lists for home based workers from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • first aid training for the age group you will look after
  • childcare training
  • a health declaration booklet
  • contact details for 2 references
  • a certificate of good character from an embassy - if you’ve lived abroad in the past 5 years

You will need to apply online through the government’s website, and will need to pay your non-refundable registration fee to Ofsted. The registration fee will be charged on an annual basis to keep your registration active.

 

When you submit your application Ofsted will: 

  • do background checks with local authorities
  • check your references
  • give you a reference number to use if you have questions about your application

 

An inspector will visit you to check: 

  • your identity and qualifications - including first aid qualifications
  • your house and garden are safe for children
  • that you’re familiar with the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements and know how to put them into practice
  • your level of English

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Step 5: Advertising your childcare services

When you have registered with Ofsted or a childminder agency they will let Luton Early Years Team know that you are now registered.

 

The team will contact you to ask you to complete some forms to tell us about your childcare services. We will use this information to share your details (with your permission) by email/post, over the phone and on the childcare section of the Luton Directory.

 

This form will include asking for your contact details, opening hours, number of vacant childcare places, if you can drop off and pick up from schools etc.

 

There is also a free text section that is your chance to advertise your services in your own words, you may like to think about if you will you have a ‘unique selling point’ e.g. offering home cooked meals, proficient in communicating in sign language.

 

We will not charge you for advertising your childcare services.

 

You might choose to advertise on other childcare services websites, and there may be a charge for this.

 

You could also contact your local schools or nurseries to see if they can include a leaflet or your details in their next parent newsletter. You could approach other local childminders and ask them to pass on your details to any parents/carers they cannot take on e.g. if they have no spaces available themselves, maybe they would be willing to share your details with parents or carers.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need permission to childmind from my home?

If you rent your home, you will need written permission from landlord. 

If you own your home, please check your mortgage terms and conditions as sometimes this will exclude running a business from the property.

Individuals wishing to become childminders should ensure that they check to see if any planning permission is required. All proposed childminders should seek planning pre-application advice


How much will it cost to be a childminder? 

For registering with a childminder agency please see their policies and guidance documents. 

For those registering with Ofsted, your registration fee will depend on the age of children you are going to look after.  

You will also need to include the following in your calculations of how much it will cost you to set up as a childminder.

  • Public liability insurance
  • changes to your home and accident insurance
  • Business insurance for your car - if you will be using it for childminding purposes
  • Necessary checks - DBS checks and update service, health declaration fee from GP
  • Cost of any training and renewal- e.g. First Aid Training
  • Ofsted annual registration fee
  • Information Commissioners Office (ICO) annual registration fee
  • Potential increase in your utility bills and shopping costs e.g. cleaning supplies and food
  • Initial costs for toys and resources

Is there any help with start-up costs?

The childminder start-up grants scheme will open for applications by Thursday 30 November 2023.

This will be 

  • £600 for those registering with Ofsted
  • £1,200 for those registering with a childminder agency

Recipients must complete their childminder registration between 15 March and 31 March 2025 before applying for the grant and within 2 months of their registration.


How long will it take me to be fully registered?

Ofsted registration takes up to 12 weeks depending on the availability of training and your necessary checks.


How many children can I look after?

This is covered in the section Staff:child ratios of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework. 

Please note that any children that live with you will be included in your ratios. For example if you have one child and your registration allows you to look after 4 children, you could have 3 childminded children at the same time as your own child is in your care. 


Are there any essential documents I need to read?

Yes. The Early years foundation stage statutory framework and the Early Years inspection handbook for Ofsted-registered provision


How do I offer the government funded childcare places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds?

Once you have registered with Ofsted you will need to read and sign up to the Luton Provider Agreement.

You will also need to contact the Early Years Finance team on nursery.headcount@luton.gov.uk 


How do I sign up to the Tax Free Childcare scheme?

Once you are registered as an approved childcare provider you can sign up to get an account that will allow you to receive payments from parents using tax free childcare. To sign up you will need the following:

  • 11-digit user ID from your invitation letter – if you did not get one or have lost it, contact the helpline
  • bank account details
  • your business postcode (the one registered with your regulator, for example Ofsted)

What support is available to me after I have registered?

After your registration as either a childminder agency or Ofsted childminder you will be able to access ongoing support from the Luton Early Years team by phone, email and some visits. The team can be contacted by emailing childminding@luton.gov.uk 

Register for an account on the School Support website to access and book on training sessions.

Regular childminder network meetings, where you will receive national and local updates, and have a chance to network with other childminders. These meetings will be booked through the school support website. 


Related information

Contact details

For more information on becoming a childminder

Email the Luton Early Years Team on childminding@luton.gov.uk

Call Family Information Service on telephone number 01582 548888

If you are interested in registering through a childminder agency please contact them directly. Contact details can be found on the government's webpage Childminder agencies: list of agencies