Questions to ask a childminder

When you're looking for a suitable childminder to take care of your child we recommend that you start by asking a series of questions to get a feel for their knowledge and experience. We've put together some suggestions that will give you an understanding of their skills along with appropriate answers to look out for. Helping you feel confident and trusting in your choice of quality childcare.

The PACEY childcare-ready to choose? brochures for England and Wales include examples of questions to consider and other useful information. In addition please see the link below to Finding Childcare which is a guide for parents in England available from the PACEY shop.

Finding childcare - a guide for parents

What experience/qualifications do you have?

All childminders will need to have completed a pre-registration course before they register in England or Wales.  This also enables them to deliver the EYFS in England. Some childminders may also go on to gain a level 3 qualification or higher. They should also have a current paediatric first aid certificate. In addition they should undertake regular CPD which may include workshops, online training, reading childcare magazines etc. 

What schools/nurseries do you drop off/pick up from?

Childminders may be caring for a number of children who attend nursery and school, you will need to find out if they are available to collect from your specific nursery/school.

How many children do you currently care for, and what are their ages?

Childminders can care for up to six children under the age of 8, additionally they may care for children aged 8 and over. It's as well to check the numbers of children being cared for and their ages as well, as the days they attend. That way you can see which aged children your child may be mixing with. 

How do you ensure the safety of the children in your care?

Childminders are required to carry out risk assessments both of the home and garden and whenever they take children out. They are also required to record any accidents or incidents and any medication that is given.      

Do you offer funded 2-, 3- and 4-year-old places?

Some childminders are able to offer the free entitlement, it's worth asking if this is something you are interested in. There's more information about the free entitlement in England and Wales here.

Do you work with any assistants?

Many childminders may work with either assistants or another registered childminder. This enables them to care for larger numbers of children if there is sufficient space. Children are only allowed to be left for a maximum of two hours in the sole care of an assistant. Ask about the experience and qualifications of any assistants.     

How do you ensure the safe recruitment of staff?

If a childminder employs any assistants they will need to have obtained an enhanced Disclosing and Barring Service check (formerly known as a CRB check). Anyone over the age of 16 years living in the same house as a childminder must also have this check.

What activities do you provide?

Childminders will be providing a range of activities both within the home and out in the community. These should meet the needs of children of all ages. Make sure you share your child’s particular interests and find out how they could be catered for.

How do you support children's learning and development?

Childminders in England are required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage and provide activities that are based on your child's interests and that help them to progress in their development. In Wales, childminders work within the regulations and the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare in Wales.

How do you keep parents informed of their child's progress?

Childminders carry out observations of children that help them to ensure each child is making progress and also identify any area of need. They are required to provide ongoing feedback and, at the age of between 2 and 3 years provide a progress check.

What types of meals and snacks do you provide?

Some childminders provide meals, whilst others prefer parents to provide packed lunches and they will supply snacks. All childminders must maintain good food hygiene and provide information on any allergens contained in the food they provide. They must work closely with you to meet the dietary requirements of your child.

How do you manage children's behaviour?

Childminders may have a behaviour policy and display house rules. They will be using positive methods such as distraction and must not threaten or give corporal punishment.

What happens if you or your own children are unwell?

Childminders may have an emergency back-up childminder or may work with others to cover illness or holidays. If their own children are ill, they will often inform you and ask that you make alternative arrangements to prevent infection.

What do your fees include?

This will vary, some include meals others may ask for an additional payment for food and outings for example. It is advisable to know this information from the outset. There's more information about paying for childcare here.

How did your last inspection go?

Childminders are regularly inspected by Ofsted in England and CIW in Wales, and you could ask the childminder to see the report of their last inspection. You can also look at Ofsted inspection reports  and CIW inspection reports online and see if there are any complaints or compliance notices against childminders. 

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