Registered childminders are professional day carers who work in their own home to provide care and education for other people's children in a family setting.
Childminders can often offer very flexible care and may be able to cover shift work and weekend working. They offer a wide range of activities based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) including:
- arts and crafts
- books and stories
- sand and water play
- outdoor play
- music and singing
Registered childminders are allowed to care for a maximum of six children under eight years old, of which usually no more than three may be in the age range birth to five years. These numbers include the childminder's own children. As they work with small groups of children, they may be able to offer more individualised care. They can also look after siblings of different ages.
Childminders can either be:
- independent and registered by Ofsted or
- signed up to a Childminder Agency which must be registered with Ofsted.
The registration process involves an inspection of the premises from which they operate and an inspection of their ability as a childminder.
An independent childminder will be inspected by Ofsted at least once every three years, and Ofsted will publish the inspection report on their website. Childminders are listed according to their Ofsted reference number. These are available on the childcare search of the Family Service Directory.
A childminder signed up to a childminder agency will receive at least one quality assurance visit per year and have access to the minimum required levels of support and training as set out in the regulations for childminder agencies. The Agency has a duty to publish the quality assurance reports which will usually be found on the agency's website. Currently all childminders in Sutton are registered independently.
Paying for a childminder
Childminders are self employed and set their own hourly rates. Rates in Sutton range from £4.50 to £8 per hour depending on location. You will agree a contract with the childminder that will include:
- holiday pay and
- terms and conditions
The normal working hours are 7am to 6pm, but some some childminders may be able to work more flexibly and include shifts or weekends. Childminders can accept childcare vouchers as payment and families qualifying for Working Tax Credit may also be able to claim help with childcare costs.
Some childminders offer 15 hours of free Early Education Funding for three and four year olds and for some two year olds who meet the eligibility criteria. Ask the childminder directly whether they offer the funding or check the childcare search on the Family Services Directory.
What to think about when visiting a childminder
You will be the best judge of what is right for your child. However the list below may guide you on points to look for and what to ask. Things to consider and questions to ask when looking for a quality setting:
- Are you and your child made to feel welcome?
- Do the children present look happy and involved in what they are doing?
- Do the activities look interesting and inviting and are there daily opportunities for outdoor play?
- Ask to see their registration and insurance certificates
- How much does the childminder charge, what is included and how often do you pay?
- Is there a waiting list? If so when will you be informed of a start date?
General points to consider
- Are there lots of toys, books and play equipment?
- Are the premises clean, well kept and safe for children?
- Are the children able to move freely between activities and are they able to make their own choices?
- Are different cultures positively represented in the toys, books and displays?
- Are girls and boys encouraged to take part in all activities?
- Does the childminder share your views on learning and behaviour for your child?
- What happens when the childminder is sick?
- How will the provision meet any special needs your child may have? Think about equipment, access, skills, experience and training of staff.
- Will you be given the opportunity to meet with the childminder to talk about your child and how will they share any records kept about your child with you?
Searching for a childminder
You can use the childcare search on the Family Services Directory to look for registered childminders in your area. Alternatively, you can contact us on 020 8770 6000 for a vacancy list.