Childminders are a great option for families who need care for children in their own homes, but they are also available in other settings. Many childcare providers offer both home-based and centre-based services, so it’s important to understand the differences between them before you choose a provider for your child.
Childcare at home is more likely to be affordable and offers a higher quality of care than centre-based child care because of the low adult/child ratios that childminders can provide. It’s often more flexible, as well, with children being able to spend time in their childminder’s home in the same way they would in a nursery or school.
It’s important to find a childminder you trust. Ask to see the childminder’s qualifications and make sure that their Disclosure and Barring Service check is up to date. It’s also a good idea to visit the childminder for a couple of sessions to ensure that the environment and staff are comfortable with your child.
You can also try to contact childminders yourself via Facebook or email to check their availability and ask about rates and fees. Then you can decide if they are right for you.
NICMA can help you find a local childminder and give you advice on the types of care that will suit your family’s needs. They can also help you find out more about how to become a childminder and can connect you with other childminders in your area.
The best childminders will be registered with Ofsted and will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets out the learning and development standards that should be met by all childcare services. They will also have training to support their childcare practice.
They will have a contract with you which includes the fees they charge and the terms of their service. These are legally binding and you should always read the contract carefully before signing it. It should also include details about the settling in period, when they will visit your child to get to know them.
When choosing a childminder it’s important to consider the number of children they can look after at any one time. It’s usually no more than six children under the age of eight, and if they have more than that they must demonstrate to Ofsted that they can meet all their needs.
You may be able to access some forms of funding to help with the cost of childcare. The Government has produced a guide to help you find out more. It includes information about free and reduced-cost places as well as advice on how to apply for them.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can contact Luton Family Information Service who will be able to help you find childcare that meets your family’s needs and can give you an overview of what’s available locally. They also have a family directory with childminders listed by area.
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