Useful questions to ask childminders
- What is your experience of looking after children?
- What extra training have you done?
- What other children will be with my child and how old are they?
- Can I contact other parents to get references?
- What sort of local trips out and regular activities do you do?
- If you use a car with the children, does it have the right car seats and are you insured to use it for work?
- How do you respond to challenging behaviour?
- Can we have a trial run, say a couple of mornings, to see how things go?
And a few observations you should bear in mind when visiting:
- Does the hygiene of the home meet your standards?
- Are the gates and fences secured?
- Is the play equipment safe, clean, and in good repair?
- Did you feel welcome and at ease?
- Does the childminder listen carefully and give thoughtful replies?
- Were you invited to view the premises unhindered?
- Did other children present seem happy?
A few key facts about registered childminders:
- Childminders are self-employed
- Childminders may be registered for up to six children under eight years old; of these not more than three may be under five years old and of these, usually not more than one may be under 12 months, including the childminder's own children
- Some childminders work with assistants who may be a family member or friend who comes to their house
- All registered childminders must display their certificate
- Childminders must have safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire blanket, stair gates as appropriate.
- All childminders must hold a current Public Liability Insurance Certificate.
- All aspects of care should show an understanding of equal opportunities with reference to gender, ethnic origin, culture, diet, religion and special needs.
We advise you to have a written contract with any childminder whose service you secure. The contract should include terms and conditions on rates of pay, holiday pay, sick pay, who provides meals, hours of attendance, review date of contract and period of notice to be given.
A few points to note:
- Childminders may prefer not to care for sick children
- Later changes to the contract must be signed and dated by both of you
- Contracts are legally binding between the childminder and parents
- You both keep a signed copy
- If you do not get a contract you will have nothing to support you if you feel that the arrangement is not turning out as you expected
You can find out more information about contracts from the professional association for childcare and early years, PACEY.