Every parent knows that for them to work, they need a reliable and trustworthy childminder. It is a big decision for any parent to choose to leave their child in the care of another adult, especially someone that they may not know that well.
But every parent also understands that these early formative years of their children are too important to waste and that by engaging a professional childminder their children are not only safe and nurtured but challenged to learn about the world around them. So how do you find a professional childminder you can trust?
Choose a registered childminder
Anyone offering their services as a professional childminder, offering to care for children in exchange for money, must be registered with OFSTED in England – this inspectorate differs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A registered childminder will be inspected and the reports about the provision they provide from their last inspection will be published online.
Resources to look at
As you would expect in the digital age, turning to the Internet for help in finding a local childminder is a good place to start. And there are a few around;
- OFSTED is the main authority on childcare, always check out their site
- Yoopies is a search site that allows you to search for OFSTED registered childminders in your area.
- You can also use the GOV.uk site. You simply type in your postcode and it gives you a list of local search results for registered childminders in your area.
- GOV.uk may also suggest you try to find a registered childminder in your area by searching your local council website. This is also a great move because again, childminders need to be registered with their local council too and so you know anyone on the list should have all the paperwork up to date.
- There are also other third-party sites such as Childcare.co.uk. what you need to remember with third party sites is that they may not necessarily verify the information that childminders upload onto their profiles. In other words, they may not verify that the childminder is registered with OFSTED, have a DBS check etc. suggesting that it is your responsibility to do so.
Finding the right childminder – the questions to ask, the things to look for
Choosing the right childminder is about making sure that everything is in place and that your children are safe and nurtured. It also comes to personality and your gut feeling. So don’t be frightened of visiting different childminders and getting a feel for who they are and what they offer.
What questions could you ask?
- A bit more about them – find out more about them as a person, what brought them to childminding and so on. There are no right and wrong answers but is more a chance to get to know them a little better.
- Will anyone else be in the home when the children are there? What about pets? – most childminders work from home, something that many parents find attractive. Find out more about this home situation.
- Are you qualified? – a childminder doesn’t have to have a formal childcare qualification aside from paediatric first aid, but most people will have completed some kind ofchildminder courseor broaderonline childcare course. They will usually stay relevant too, as new topics and subjects come to the fore.
- What about children with learning or physical disabilities? – not all childminders can accept children with disabilities.
- Discipline policy – it is important to understand how childminders will deal with unruly or disruptive behaviour. What you are looking for is a response that is appropriate discipline for a child of your age. Most childminders will use timeout, as well as reasoning and so on.
- What activities do they have in a day? – some childminders will have a timetable to show you of the activities that they do during the time they are looking after the children.
- How do they communicate with parents? – you will want to know what your children have been doing and what they have enjoyed, as well as what they have eaten throughout the day as well as any concerns a childminder may have. Many childminders complete small diary inserts so you have information about your child’s day.
Once you have found the right person, you’ll have peace of mind that your children are being well cared for.