What is a childminder?

Professional Childminding in Calne

A childminder is someone who looks after your children for you.

ALL childminders must be registered with Ofsted before they are allowed to work with children. They are also required to complete basic training to care for children, including first aid training, and most go on to further training and professional development including qualifications - some childminders also complete Quality Assurance awards which require a higher standard of childcare and responsibility. Police checks are carried out to make sure they are suitable to care for children which look not only at the childminder themselves but also at any other people living in the household who may come into contact with the children to ensure they have not carried out any offences against young people or anything else that could give parents cause for concern. An inspection of the childminder's home is also carried out to make sure it is safe and suitable for children.

Registered childminders offer a flexibility of service that is difficult to find in other childcare provisions. Because they look after only small groups of children, their daily routines are very adaptable. Individual dietary requirements, sleeping patterns or homework projects can be catered for with ease.

Childminders use their home environment to look after children in their care. All offer full-time and part-time services for babies and children under five. Many childminders also look after older children before and/or after school as well as during holiday periods, teacher training days etc.

Being cared for by a registered childminder gives youngsters the opportunity to learn from real life experiences. Everyday activities such as shopping trips, school runs, family mealtimes and visits to the park teach children valuable life skills that they might not acquire so readily in centre-based care. These activities also educate children about their local environment.

Childminders cater for children's individual physical, educational, social and emotional needs. They provide a warm, caring environment along with stimulating play and learning activities. They aim to encourage learning and development through activities such as painting and drawing, reading stories and outdoor play.

Childminders can offer full-time, part-time and flexible day care for children between 0 and 8 years and may also care for older children outside of normal school hours. Some offer to drop-off and/or collect children from pre-schools, nurseries and primary schools as well as offering care for school-aged children during the holiday periods. Some childminders may also offer extended care such as overnight stays or are equipped to offer specialist care for children with additional special requirements.

Childminders offer a homely setting in which there will normally be a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8 of whom no more than 3 are allowed to be under 5. These are rules that are governed by Ofsted when the childminder is registered and they are not allowed to exceed these numbers. It is normally permitted that only one child under the age of 12 months may be cared for and the childminders own children must be included in these ratios. Some childminders choose to work with an assistant, or combine their services with those of another childminder, which means that they are allowed to look after a higher number of children but Ofsted rules apply in all cases in relation to the number of children which the Government agency deems safe to be cared for on an adult:child ratio.