When you make the decision to trust your children with a someone else, it is obviously not a choice you should make lightly. Choosing the right childminder can be a minefield if you do not know what to look out for and whoever you decide to go with, for whatever reason, should exceed a minimum standard.
Below are some of the certifications, qualifications and responsibilities that any professional childminder should be able to evidence. If you do not feel that yours can fulfil all of these basic requirements, we seriously suggest looking elsewhere.
First and foremost, childminders should have completed some kind of Home Based Childcare and Safeguarding qualifications. Although experience speaks volumes in this line of work, formal qualifications are also required to ensure that your childminder knows their responsibilities inside and out. Safeguarding is a complex and delicate topic which anyone working with children must attend training for. It includes understanding abuse and the chain of who to report it to, among other subjects. Your childminder should also hold a Full Paediatric First Aid certificate, as well as a declaration of their own health completed by their GP.
The responsibility of a childminder doesn’t stop at your qualifications and credentials though. It is a legal requirement that anyone over the age of 16 working with children must be DBS checked – this disclosure highlights any previous criminal records and should be renewed regularly (most authorities recommend every three years). Any visitors to the
centre must also be vetted to a degree. Enforcing a signing in and out process is important part of this and you must never leave children alone with anyone that is not OFSTED approved.
Moving on, physically turning a home into a childcare facility is not simply a case of opening your doors and hoping no-one bumps their head. The paperwork alone is extensive and all professional childminders should have this on hand as evidence, so don’t be afraid to ask! Public liability insurance, contents (and building if applicable) insurance and risk assessments are just the start. The childminder also needs to ensure that fundamental safety equipment e.g. fire blanket, fire detection etc are present, as well as ‘childproofing’ all areas.
Finally, a person’s passion for the job should not be overlooked as this will effect how much enthusiasm they put into your child’s daily development and growth. All childminders and nurseries must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is the equivalent of a school curriculum in a way – we observe children at play and make judgements based on this to assess whether or not they are doing as they ‘should’ for their age. We also have to encourage British Values such as sharing, making friends, being kind etc, as well as healthy eating. These are skills they will use throughout their lives and teaching them at an early age makes it much easier!
Speaking with a childminder, who chooses to remain nameless, they concluded: “I personally love my job and find it very rewarding. Seeing the children’s faces and watching them develop and learn new things brings me a huge amount of joy. They genuinely become part of your family and that is why I take my responsibilities incredibly seriously. Up to date credentials and safety checks, although perhaps not as fun as playing with the kids, are all a part of this. If you childminder does not consider these formal parts of the work important, take the time to think about whether their priorities align with your own. With your child’s safety and well-being at stake, a bit of paperwork shouldn’t be too much to ask for!”