Childminder team Nursev and John Morris talk about their experience setting up in the sector and being able to support the growth of the next generation while spending time with their family and earning a living.
In 2015 we found out that we were having a baby with down syndrome. Around the same time our job situations changed and we decided it would be a good time to change career. I was in HR in the financial services sector and John was a fashion designer and was working in retail. We decided upon childminding as it would enable us to be at home with our three children more and we could learn about child development in order to help our son with additional needs. We were able to apply our skillset from our previous occupations to our new childminding business as John was creative and I had business skills to support the admin and business requirements. So in 2017, we set up Bright Stars Childminding and haven’t looked back.
For us, childminding enables us to be there for our own family. We believe that children really need both male and female role models in order to be more balanced as individuals and learn about the world around them. Being able to deliver this together as a team works really well for our situation. It’s great being your own boss! We love being able to work together as childminding can be challenging work sometimes (especially when our own children haven’t slept) and we keep each other sane.
And of course have to mention our son. We were able to give him a fantastic foundation in our setting but to enable us to access 1:1 care and additional support for him, we made the decision to send him to nursery, and he is absolutely thriving. However, our career stills gives us the flexibility for when our son has medical or therapy appointments to attend, as long as we’re in ratio, one of us can be with the minded children whilst the other can pop out for the appointment.
The children and their parents love that we have a very homely and family-oriented environment. They are also pleased that we have experience of raising our own three boys and having a child with special learning needs means we have taken steps to introduce elements such as Makaton which the parents have really enjoyed as well. Not to mention the fact that they also get two registered childminders for the price of one!
Having a man in the setting is not only a selling point but it has really benefitted those children who have had particularly difficult times with male influences in their own lives. It has helped and enabled them to be able to trust, be comfortable with, and relate to a male again. Being a male childminder can be daunting sometimes, it’s a female dominated profession and when we network with our peers John is usually the only male. But on the other hand, to be able to be a role model for young children who do not have a male figure in their lives is a huge benefit, and it’s a great comfort to some parents.
It’s important for us personally that John also gets to be a positive black role model. We have built up our business from scratch and it is now very successful. We have a great reputation, we are unique, and we even have a waiting list! We are very proud of what we have built and we want to continue future plans to potentially transition into a nursery setting and grow even more.
One challenge we have faced together is funding. While it’s a great selling point to parents, we are struggling with it for a few reasons. The rate in our area is not high enough and because it’s only paid termly this makes cash flow management more challenging. Monthly would be much more practical for us. The children who are currently with us all became eligible for funding at the same time, which now means that we will not be able to offer any more funded spaces as it would be too difficult for us financially.
So, what would we say to someone looking at becoming a childminder? It’s very rewarding, and great for young families but it’s also hard work, so do your homework. Make sure you network with other childminders and ask them questions. Join PACEY and sign up to their training. Being a PACEY member has been an absolutely essential go-to for us in running our business. The training, sample policies, and advice has been brilliant and practical. We feel comfortable knowing we can ask for advice if we’re ever stuck. Also, don’t forget to speak to your local council as they tend to have a lot of information and support specific to your area.