A few months ago I decided to not return to my full-time job as an account director in a digital marketing agency in London. Instead I opted to work as a childminder, looking after our two girls and an additional two children of similar ages.
I got mixed responses – some people thought I was crazy (and I’m sure there are many more who haven’t voiced it), and quite a lot of people supported me in my new life, where I’ll be around for my children. But a surprisingly large number of people seemed to have a warped view of what a childminder is/does.
So this post is all about busting those myths. Here are some facts you may not know about what being a childminder involves in 2013:
- If you want to look after a baby/child for more than 2 hours consecutively for pay you have to be Ofsted registered.
- If you want to look after babies/children under 5 years old you have to provide the same EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) as nurseries and schools.
- You have to complete 12 hours of paediatric first aid training.
- You have to complete a training course on setting up a home based childcare business. This course takes about 30 hours to complete and covers things like looking after different children at different stages, but it also teaches about data protection and confidentiality (concerning the child and his/her family), and how to detect abuse in children, so it’s not light-weight in any way, shape or form.
- You, and all adults in your household, have to be DBS (formerly CRB) checked.
- You, and your GP, have to complete a medical form about your suitability to look after children (this looks at physical and mental health).
- You have to submit your application form to Ofsted and they will contact two character references.
- Once you have completed all your training you will be inspected by Ofsted. This takes around 4 hours and is essentially an oral exam about EYFS, child abuse detection, data protection and confidentiality, risk assessment, how to deal with different aged children and much more, including a thorough check of your home and the areas where you intend to childmind.
- If you manage to get through all of this you will get your Ofsted registration number and you can start working.
- Then it’s the simple task of marketing your services, finding families you want to work with/who want to work with you, setting up your childminding bank account, keeping track of all your finances (income and expenditure), buying all the necessary equipment, contacting the ICO to let them know you intend to store other people’s personal data, contacting your local food hygiene department if you intend to provide food, setting yourself up as self-employed, doing tax returns….
Once you’re actually working with the children you need to be constantly working through the EYFS with them, providing feedback to their parents and planning balanced meals, activities, assessing risk for outings and much more.
So, no, childminding is not all about taking people’s money and putting their kids in front of the TV while you do what you want. From what I can tell so far it’s a very rewarding, pretty exhausting, immensely valuable job. Most childminders see the children they look after for far more waking hours than their own parents do, so they are helping to shape the next generation. And I, for one, can’t wait.