Childminder legalities: all you need to know

The lowdown on the legalities of childminding you need to be aware of

What you need to know about childminders

We help you understand the legal requirements of a childminder

Legalities of childminders

If you’re going to trust your little one to a childminder, you need to understand the legalities of what they do and what you can expect from them. We have put together these guidelines to help you understand what you need to know.

From a legal point of view a childminder is a person who works with children for at least three hours a day in their own home for money.

Childminders need to have completed some childcare-related courses in order to qualify as a childminder and are then able to provide childcare in their own home, which is regularly inspected to ensure they provide adequate facilities and care for the children they look after.

What rules are in place for childminders in England?

Childminders working in England are registered with Ofsted who make sure they keep up to date with the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job.

All childminders are responsible for the health and safety of children when in their care, their learning, nutrition, safeguarding as well as communication with parents and the necessary paperwork.

A registered childminder in England is allowed to look after up to six children up to the age of eight. Of these, as many as three can be under fives and a single childminder can only have one child under one year old. This strict ratio must also include the childminder’s own children if they fall under the age of eight.

What rules are in place in Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland?

In Wales childminders are registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW); in Scotland childminders are registered with the Care Inspectorate.
Childminders in Wales are allowed to care for no more than 10 children under 12. Of those 10 children, no more than six may be under eight years of age; no more than three children may be under the age of five; and normally no more than two children may be under 18 months of age, although exceptions can be made for siblings.

In Scotland, childminders can care for up to six children at any one time, three of whom can be pre-schoolers and of those three only one can be under one year old. These numbers must include the childminder’s own children should they fit into the age bracket.

The rules In Northern Ireland state that a childminder can care for up to six children under 12, including their own. Only three of these may be aged under five and usually only one child below one year old.

What’s the average cost of a childminder?

In the UK, the average cost of childminders is £107.41 per week which is for 25 hours a week for children under two. A nursery for the same hours works out as £122.46 per week. If you are using full time childcare you are looking at an average cost of £232.84 per week.

Do I need a contract with my childminder?

Yes, having a contract from word go ensures you and your childminder knows where they stand. The issues worth ironing out in a contract include holidays, deposits, notice periods, policies and sickness (the childminder’s or your child’s). It’s a good idea to agree how you plan to arrange your holidays at the beginning of the arrangement with your childminder.

What questions should I ask a childminder?

  • Are you Ofsted registered?
  • What other children do you take care of?
  • Who else is in your home?
  • What meals and snacks do you provide?
  • Where can my child nap? And how do you manage nap times with other children?
  • What play activities do you do each week?
  • Is there an outside play area or will you take them elsewhere to play outdoors?
  • How will you inform us our child’s learning and development?

It’s also advisable to add in a “settling in period” clause to your contract, generally for two to four weeks which would allow a get out option without usual notice if your child simply doesn’t settle with the childminder or if you change your mind about your requirements.

Quite often childminders may have holiday dates which they make you aware of at the beginning of the year. It’s also important to be clear if you still have to pay full or part fees if you go on holiday. If there is a breach of contract, the childminder may be within their rights to end the contract with no notice period if one is not specified.

Childminder legalities: all you need to know