Yesterday I attended the local authority briefing session. The session was 10am-3pm and the aim of the day was to gain an insight into childminding, and to help us decide whether to book onto the childminder course. The first question asked was “why do you want to become a childminder?”. The main responses were to work with children, for the challenge of being self-employed, to have flexibility at work and to socialise with other childminders. We then looked at the challenges of childminding, some of which I hadn’t considered. For example, the childminder’s own child cannot have a school friend round to play or child/adult ratios will not be maintained. Some people in the course lived in flats and the course leader said children must be able to play outside every day, regardless of weather. Living in a flat was not a barrier to childminding but outside play e.g. in the park needed to be built into the daily routine. Other challenges included start-up costs, complaints from neighbours about noise and parking, keeping up to date with paperwork and having to arrange medical appointments and training days around working hours. However, for each challenge there was a reward- the satisfaction in watching children learn and develop, the sense of achievement from being self-employed, being able to set your own working hours and opportunities for professional development
We then looked at what was needed to register for Ofsted. Some people planned to convert their outside garages into playrooms and were told they needed to apply for planning permission. We would need an enhanced DBS check for ourselves, any adults living in the house and any regular visitors to the home e.g. grandparents who visit each week. The home would need to be safe for children and a paediatric first aid course was required. We talked about ratios: a childminder can look after 6 children under 8 years of age. No more than 3 children can be under 5 years and only one child can be under 1 year old. Assistants can be employed to help with school runs etc. but they can only be left alone for two hours per day.
We had half an hour break for lunch then looked at the Early Years Foundation Stage and the seven areas of learning and development. We spoke briefly about observations of the child, safeguarding and working in partnership with parents. These will be discussed in more detail on the childminding course but it was good to get an insight into what we would be learning about. We finished to session by looking at the business side of childminding- setting contracts (think about opening hours, payment arrangements, what if a parent arrives drunk to collect) fees (usually £5-£5.50 per hour in this area), meeting parents expectations (being clear from the start about what you can and cannot offer) and how to advertise (family information service is the recommended method).
I found the session really informative and the course leaders knowledgeable. The next step is to book onto a 7 week evening course called “preparing to work in homebased childcare” which costs £175. I will also apply for my DBS check as this can take 16 weeks to arrive. Getting there slowly!