New to Childminding? – Start Here
If you are a newly registered childminder or are considering a career in childcare then you have come to the right place!
Here at MindingKids we understand what is involved in starting up, the registration process and the reality of running a childcare business. We can we give you a helping hand to get your new venture off to a magnificent start and be here to support you with everything you need to keep organised and inspection ready throughout your exciting childcare journey!
There is lots to consider when starting up as a childminder. Not only must you ensure that you are qualified and registered so that you can legally provide care for children, you must also consider the pros and cons of being self-employed, working from home and the impact that this will have on your own family. It can seem extremely overwhelming in the early stages and not unusual to feel a bit lost. Try not to be disheartened, MindingKids can help you through the process and break down what needs to be done in small manageable chunks.
Follow our start up steps below and before you know it you will be well on your way in your rewarding new career!
Already registered? CONGRATULATIONS!… Skip to Step 6 below!
Step 1 – Consider your Ambitions and Circumstances
How would you answer the following questions…
- Have you thought about the reality of being a childminder and understand the rewards and demands?
- Is your family supportive of your ideas and do you believe becoming a childminder will impact them in a positive way?
- Is your home suitable for childminding purposes?
- Will you have access to adequate space, toys, resources and equipment?
- Is there demand for childcare providers in your area?
- Do you understand the implications of being self-employed and have considered whether or not the income you are likely to achieve through childminding will be sufficient?
If you can answer yes to all of the above then it looks as though you have already taken the time to consider what childminding will mean for you and your family.
Step 2 – Understand the Registration Process
Start by reading our FREE Guides to Registering as a Childminder:
If you live in Scotland, you will need to register with the Care Inspectorate.
If you are based in England then it is Ofsted that you must register with.
Step 3 – Organise Pre-Registration Training
Before registration can be granted you will need to complete a pre-registration training course. If registering in England you must also hold a current paediatric first aid certificate or if you are in Scotland you will be expected to undergo paediatric first aid and child protection training within your first six months of operation. Contact your local authority to see what is available in your area and get yourself booked on. There may be a waiting list or the courses may run infrequently in some areas so it is best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible so as not to hold up your registration.
You can proceed with steps 4 and 5 below whilst waiting on and completing your training…
Step 4 – Get your head around the paperwork
For many this can be a huge turn off but please don’t let it frighten you away! In the childcare world there is a lot of confusion and debate about what paperwork is necessary and what is excessive. All childminders work in different ways and use a variety of techniques to record and share information. In addition to this, modern day technology has seen an upward trend in the use of paperless systems although a fair proportion of providers still prefer to use hand written records and many feel a combination works best. It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way, it is your childcare business and it is vital that you take the time to find methods of working that suit you and the children and families you provide care for.
Take a look at the Business Documents & Paperwork sections within the FREE Guide to Registering. (links in Step 2 above). Working your way through this list will ensure you have everything required to support your application and in preparation for your pre-registration visit.
It may seem like a huge list to get through but MindingKids has loads of templates that you can use to help get you started. Focus on the important documents first, the rest you can put together or add more detail to over time.
See our Childminding Paperwork Start-Up Pack for all the essentials to help get you started:
Step 5 – Prepare for your registration visit.
Once you have completed your induction training and submitted your registration application you should begin to prepare for your registration visit. Think about what your inspector might ask you or whether you have any questions for them.
You may find it useful to work through the list provided in the Prepare for your Registration Visit section of the FREE Guide to Registering (links in Step 2 above).
Make a list of the following things:
- Your business documents and paperwork and where each item is stored.
- What equipment / resources you intend to purchase or source following registration that will enable you to meet children’s care needs and ensure their safety.
- How you will use your childminding space, what toys and activities you can offer and what is available in the local community, e.g play or activity groups, parks, library, walks, etc.
- Whether you intend to drop off / collect children from local schools or nurseries and how you will do this safely.
- What methods you intend to use to communicate with parents and involve them with their child’s progress and the overall running of your setting.
Most importantly RELAX… Remember that your inspector is there to help you and will be happy to answer any questions you have.
STEP 6 – POST REGISTRATION OBLIGATIONS
Well Done! You have completed the registration process and are now a fully registered childminder! Before you can begin to fill your spaces, you must make sure you have certain things in place as a requirement of your registration and to protect you and the children and families you will provide care for, e.g. public liability insurance, driving insurance for childminding purposes, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) registration, etc. You may also need to source or purchase certain pieces of equipment.
Our Post Registration Check-lists will ensure you have all of the necessaries covered:
Step 7 – Market your business
AMAZING! You are fully registered and have everything you need in place. All you need now is some children to mind! Think of all of the methods you can use to spread the word that you are open for business.
- Word of mouth…Tell EVERYONE you know about your exciting new career!
- Ensure the Care Inspectorate / Ofsted have your correct contact details for use on their website
- Register with the local children and families’ information service
- Social Media
- Create your own website
- Flyers, business cards, posters, community notice boards, your car, etc
Take a look at the Parent Information & Marketing Pack for some useful templates and marketing ideas:
Try not to feel disappointed if business is slow to start. It is tough being a new childminder but as time goes on your reputation will proceed you and before long, confidence will build as families get to know you and the quality of service that you provide.
Step 8 – Dealing with enquiries and preparing to welcome children and families
EXCITING times! The word is out…you are open for business!
Meeting parents and new children can come with a mixture of emotions. A combination of excitement at the prospect of new business and nerves as you try to impress parents and convince them that you can offer the best care for their child. Putting together a service information booklet will help you to come across as professional and organised and will also help you to answer any questions parents may have. Whilst you will be keen to fill your spaces, always remember that meeting new children and families is a two way process. Can you deliver the care requirements the family is looking for and will you be able to establish a positive working relationship?
The Parent Information and Marketing Pack contains some useful guidance on how to deal with enquires, prepare for welcome meetings and also includes a service information booklet template.
Step 9 – Settling In Sessions
Settling In sessions can be extremely useful and allow for everyone to get to know each other better before contracted hours commence. New children will be able to get to know you, any other children attending, and your setting in small manageable sessions which will help them and their parents to feel at ease. In addition to this, you will have the opportunity to gather lots of information about the child, their likes and dislikes, routines, favourite activities and how to comfort them should they become upset.
Not everyone uses settling in sessions, and in certain circumstances time limitations or parent shift patterns may not allow for them. Some providers charge for settling in sessions and some do not. Some offer half days and others a couple of hours over a few days. Whether or not you offer settling in sessions and how you implement them is entirely up to you. Investigate what other providers in your area offer but most importantly consider carefully what you feel will work best for you, your circumstances and the child and family involved.
Step 10 – Agreeing Terms & Contracts
Before contracted hours commence you should ensure that parents have been provided with all of the necessary information they require. In addition to a welcome / service information booklet, you should advise of the policies and procedures you have in place. Whilst it is not a requirement to have a written set of policies, it can help to ensure that everyone is clear on what will happen in certain circumstances or situations. Rather than printing out several sheets for every family, you may prefer to send a copy of your policies via email and keep a folder of your policies within your setting that parents can refer to if they wish. Sending via email will also allow you to easily provide new or updated policies should any changes be made.
Template policies & procedures can be found in the Policies & Procedures Pack – simply use the ones you need and edit them as you require to suit your setting and circumstances.
Again, whilst not a legal requirement, it is always sensible to draw up an agreed contract at the beginning of any childcare arrangement. This clarifies from the start, the terms and conditions between all parties involved. A contract allows for any special arrangements to be agreed and sets out fees, charges and payment instructions clearly. An agreed contract will therefore help to avoid disputes occurring further down the line. It is important that all parties receive a completed, signed copy of the contract and keep it in a safe place until the contract is either renewed or terminated.
Contract Forms can be found in the Childminding Contracts Pack. Different versions are provided to suit a variety of childcare circumstances.
Enquire about our customisation service to have your business name and logo added to the forms.
Congratulations! You are now well on your way in your exciting new career as a childminder!
Now all you need to do is:
- fill the rest of your spaces
- plan and organise activities,
- observe and support each child’s learning
- plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks
- attend regular training
- keep on top of your paperwork
- manage your business finances
- ensure all toys and equipment are kept safe and clean
- regularly communicate and involve parents
AND somehow find time to look after your own family and yourself! …..AArrgh!
In your initial months of childminding it is quite normal to feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on. It is important that you prioritise what is important, for example; getting to know children and families, making them feel welcome and establishing routines, taking note of interests and finding resources and activities to support these and ensuring children’s individual care needs are met.
Whilst legally you will need to keep certain records, try not too get too bogged down with paperwork in the first few months. Consider what is actually required and what is excessive. Although you have the best intentions of keeping daily observations for every child, once you have several children on your books, you may find this level of reporting impossible to maintain. Start with small steps and gradually you will build confidence and find your feet!
How MindingKids can help you…
Here at MindingKids we have first-hand experience of what it is like to run a childcare business and what it feels like to be a newbie! We understand how challenging it can be to keep on top of paperwork and business planning whilst physically caring for children.
Whether you prefer to work digitally or on paper, we have a wide range of OUTSTANDING Resources to assist you with business management and organisation, learning and development, self-assessment, planning and activity inspiration.
Via our email newsletters we will keep you up to date with the latest legislation, guidance and resource updates
AND you can also make use of the MindingKids App, keeping you even more organised with all of the essentials right at you finger tips!
Purchase only for what you need or become a MindingKids member for UNLIMITED ACCESS to EVERYTHING!
Stuck with anything at all? Don’t worry you can get in touch using our contact form and we will try our very best to assist!