Childminders look after other people's children in their own home. They can provide flexible individual care in a home environment as well as linking with other services in your local community such as children's centres, toddler groups and libraries.
The 'At my childminder's photobook' at the bottom of this web page gives real life snapshots taken by an experienced Ofsted registered childminder in Surrey to give you an idea of the types of experiences children can get at a childminder's.
Childminders must be registered by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) if they look after children up to eight years old for more than two hours a day, in their own home for pay or reward.
This means they are inspected on a regular basis to make sure:
All registered childminders need to complete a certified Childminding Introductory Programme (ChIP) certified by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certification service. They also need paediatric first aid training.
Childminders can look after children from birth right through until secondary school, although their registration only regulates the care of children aged eight and under.
A childminder can care for a maximum of six children under eight years old, of which usually no more than three may be under the age of five, and no more than one of these may be under one (although Ofsted may grant an exception, for example, for twins). These numbers will include the childminder's own children.
Childminders can also care for additional children over eight but they will have to demonstrate to Ofsted that they can meet the varying needs of all children being cared for.
Childminders can offer flexible hours, either full time, part time, term time and during the school holidays, to suit you and your child's commitments.
Childminders are self employed and are able to set their charges themselves as there is no national rate. However the average cost for a childminder in Surrey is usually between £4 and £6.50 per hour.
Depending on when you want to take up the place you may also be asked to pay a retainer fee or deposit to reserve a place for your child.
If your childminder has a good or outstanding Ofsted inspection report you may be able to claim your free early education for 3 and 4 year olds through them. You will need to speak to the childminder in the first instance to see if they meet the requirements and are happy to claim the funding on your behalf.
Depending on your family circumstances you may also be eligible to claim free early education for two year olds through your childminder.
You can search for childminders in your area in our Childcare finder.
You can find an overview of your childcare choices including childminders in our Childcare Special magazine. It features articles from both parents using childcare and from childcare providers.