With so many different choices available when it comes to childcare, it can end up being a struggle to decide on the one that is right for you and your child. However, if you believe that a registered childminder is the best fit, you might be looking for information about how to help you find one local to you. The good news is that there are countless folks across the UK who are working as registered childminders, so finding one to suit is not as difficult as it may first appear.
What Does a Childminder Do?
Before searching for registered childminders in your area, it would make sense for you to learn more about what they do and what you can expect when searching for one. Knowing what to look for in a good childminder will make your search much easier. After all, it can get confusing when trying to find out about the various childcare options available to you, especially if you are a first-time parent.
First thing’s first though, and what you should know is that registered childminders work from their own homes. They are self-employed individuals and typically care for a set number of children, which often includes their own. Childminders usually care for children of different ages; depending on where they are based though, there will be different rules regarding the age of the children they can care for.
For example, a registered childminder in England can care for up to six children under the age of eight. Nevertheless, of these six children, only three can be aged five or younger. In Wales, childminders can care for up to ten children under the age of twelve. Only six of these children can be aged eight or younger and of these six children, no more than three can be over the age of five.
There are many reasons you might want to choose a childminder to care for your child. For example, many parents like the fact that using a childminder means that their child will be taken care of in a home environment where they can enjoy spending time with a small group of children and enjoying real-life experiences.
Many childminders arrange outings to the park, beach, or soft-play area, and your child might also take part in activities such as gardening, shopping, and cooking. The kids will also have the benefit of a home-cooked meal, most likely with the childminder’s own family. So while you are at work, your child can still benefit from home life experiences.
How to Find Local Registered Childminders
There are many places to search for local registered childminders. For a start, you should look on the Government’s website. By entering your postcode, you will be directed to your local council website where the names of local registered childminders can be viewed.
You should be able to get a brief description of the experience and qualifications that each childminder has as well as contact details and their hourly and/or weekly rate. You will also see details on whether the specific childminder accepts government funding for free childcare places. In addition, you will be able to view the childminder’s Ofsted number and details of his or her latest inspection.
You may also want to look at online childcare agencies where local registered childminders can become members and advertise their services. Such an agency is required to assess the suitability of a childminder before matching him or her to a family. They would also have to ensure that the childminder is following the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, if appropriate.
They work with parents to help them find a suitable childminder while also supporting the ongoing training and development of the childminders registered with them. Moreover, for your peace of mind, childminding agencies will monitor childminders to ensure they are meeting required standards of care.
If you do not want to use a childminding agency, you can search out registered childminders within your local community. Childminders often advertise locally in places such as cafés, gyms, shops, community centres, and playgroups, so it is worth keeping an eye out in these locations.
You can also ask around; word of mouth is often the way many parents stumble across fantastic childminders that might not otherwise have been found. Talk to people you know; you never know who they will know!
Your family members and friends could have experience with a local childminder and may be able to recommend one to you. You should also speak to work colleagues to find out who, if any, they are using. Or talk to mums or dads at your local school or playgroup. Many of these parents will have used a childminder before sending their kids to primary school. Some will still be using the same childminder to take care of their children before and after school.
Can You Get Help Paying for a Local Childminder?
The cost of childcare can be quite high, but fortunately funding options are available to many parents. The Government has several schemes in operation to help working parents with the cost of childcare. For example, Tax-Free Childcare could mean you can claim back up to £500 every three months towards your childcare bill.
If you are eligible for this scheme, the Government will contribute £2 for every £8 that you pay a childcare provider; this includes registered childminders. You and your partner, if you have one, must be working and earning the equivalent of sixteen hours per week at the minimum wage. Neither of you can be earning more than £100,000 per year. The tax-free childcare payments are applicable to children aged eleven and under, or seventeen and under if they are disabled.
There are also free childcare places available for three- and four-year olds while some free childcare places are available for two-year-olds for those families in receipt of certain benefits. Schemes are available across the UK that provide free childcare places. Nonetheless, the number of free hours available varies from country to country in the UK.
You should know though that while there is now provision for up to thirty hours of free childcare per week for three- and four-year olds in England, it is not compulsory for registered childminders to offer it. Some childminders may choose not to provide funded hours while some might offer it on specific days of the week.
As a parent, it is up to you to ask the questions you need answers to before choosing on a specific childminder. If funded childcare is important to you, then you will have to check that it is available for you before making your final decision.