Ever wondered how to become a childminder? Looking after other people’s kids is one way to spend more time with your own, be your own boss and earn money from home. Here’s how to go about it.
At the moment there is huge demand for childminders, as the number of working and lone parents continues to grow.
What does a childminder do?
As a registered childminder you can look after up to six children under eight years old, with no more than three under the age of five (including your own).
- To love kids (obviously!) and get pleasure from seeing them learn and develop
- Be able to work in your own home
- Care for your own children at the same time if you have a young family
- Have a sense of humour and large reserves of patience!
You’ll also need to meet the standards required by the Early Years Foundation Stage, which is designed to help children learn through play. Day to day this could mean visiting local parks, libraries or children’s centres, organising stimulating play as well as providing healthy meals and snacks.
Do I have to register as a childminder?
If you're wondering how to become a childminder you’ll need to get organised. In England, anyone who is paid to look after children who are under 8 years old, and for more than two hours each day, must be registered and inspected by Ofsted.
You’ll need to register for the Early Years Register if you want to look after children from birth to five, or the Ofsted Childcare Register if you plan to take over fives.
If you're thinking of how to become a childminder, the Ofsted registration fee is £35
For more about becoming a childminder in Scotland or Wales contact Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) or Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS).
What qualifications do I need?
You don’t need any special qualifications to become a childminder, but you will need to take a paediatric first-aid course before registering, and an introductory childcare course within six months of registration. Details of this will be provided by your local authority (see the 'How to become a registered childminder' section below).
What type of home do I need?
You don’t need a big house or garden or even to own your own home. However, you’ll need a certain amount of space per child and to meet health and safety standards if you are providing meals.
How to become a registered childminder
First, you’ll need to attend a ‘pre-registration’ session where you will get more information and an application pack. Contact your local authority to find out where and when. (You can find the contact details of your local council here).
Once you’ve completed the form, send it to Ofsted with your registration fee. Ofsted will then process your application and run a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check on you, and on anyone else over 16 who lives or works in your home. (The DBS check was formerly known as the CRB check).
You’ll get a home visit from an Ofsted inspector to make sure you are a ‘suitable person’ and that your home provides a reasonable environment for children. If you meet all the requirements you’ll get a registration certificate within about three months. Ofsted will visit you six to seven months after registration and following that at least once every three years.
Your local authority will be able to give some advice about starting out as a childminder, and how you can advertise your services.
We recommend joining a local childminding group and registering with www.findababysitter.com - which is a good way to find childminding jobs throughout the UK. The site also has a helpful section that takes you through the background checks required. Click here.
Important! You MUST get registered as a childminder - if you don't, you could be fined up to £5,000 and/or go to prison.
How much can I earn as a childminder?
You’ll be running your own business, so how much you charge is up to you. Rates vary by region, so ask around what the going rate is locally. Bear in mind you will need a contract with the parents of the children you look after, making sure it covers holiday pay and what will happen in the event you are ill. You'll also have to pay tax on your earnings.
How much will it cost?
If you're thinking of how to become a childminder, the Ofsted registration fee is £35, but you will also need to pay for relevant training, a document toolkit, any equipment or changes to your home and public liability insurance. However, grants are available to help cover start-up costs so ask your local authority.
Financial benefits for childminders
Newly registered childminders can receive a start-up grant (normally £250) to help cover the costs of setting up your business (e.g. paying for toys, safety equipment, Ofsted registration, etc).
If you work as a childminder with disabled children you may receive up to £500 in start-up grants.
If you work as a full-time childminder (40-plus hours a week) then you can claim the following back on expenses:
- One third of your household gas and electricity bills
- One tenth of your water bill
- One tenth of your Council Tax bill
- One tenth of your rent (but not mortgage payments)
Part-time childminders can claim these expenses but on a reduced scale, depending on the number of hours they work.
For more details on what expenses you can claim, have a look at this Fact Sheet from the National Childminding Association.
We've also got 10 easy ways you can pay less tax which you might find useful.
Is childminding for you?
Whether childminding is for you very much depends on your individual needs and circumstances.
Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider:
- If you already look after your kids at home, then childminding is a relatively straightforward way to earn some extra income
- If you currently work but find that most of your pay is going on childcare, then becoming a childminder yourself ends that financial burden (plus you get to see your kids more, while earning a bit of extra cash into the bargain)
- It's great if you love home comforts and working from home
- You can set your own hours to some extent
- You won't earn much - rates vary from £3.60-£6 per child per hour (but if most of your money is currently going on childminding costs, you may end up better off)
- In theory you can set your own hours, but in practice hours can be quite long
- You may have to deal with pushy parents, who frequently turn up late or are bad payers
- You have to complete lots of paperwork for your Ofsted accreditation, not to mention the records you need to keep for your tax returns
- Be prepared for extra 'wear and tear' to your home with all those little monsters running around!
For more information on getting help with childcare costs...
See our article 3 ways to get help with childcare costs. This is worth reading whether or not you are a childminder.
For more information on making money from home...
If you want some other ways of making money at home, have a look at: