Becoming a childminder in England

Click here the find out more about the Government grants

If you want to become a childminder, read on to discover more about the process and the training required. We'll also highlight some of the professional development opportunities available to you and give you the support and information you’ll need to get started on this rewarding journey.

Before you register as a childminder you need to have undertaken training and suitability checks. Find out everything you need to know about registration here:

Online briefing

Our short online briefing, updated for 2023, will give you all the information you need to help you decide if becoming a registered childminder is right for you. 

For just £5 you can explore what being a childminder in England involves and discover more about the training you need to get started.  We'll also explain about the Ofsted Early Years Register and the compulsory and voluntary parts of the childcare register. By the end of this briefing, you will:

  • Understand the legal requirements of becoming a registered childminder in England
  • Understand Ofsted's role in relation to childminding and the registration process
  • Have an overview of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • Understand the training requirements and support available to you.

Throughout the briefing you will have the opportunity to view or download and print resources and link to additional information.

Essential pre-registration training

As a registered childminder you'll have a huge impact on families, helping them manage their childcare needs as well as supporting parents in raising their children. At the same time, you'll be running your own small business, investing in your own personal development and, perhaps, managing staff, too.

It makes sense, therefore, to ensure that the training you undertake at the beginning of your career is the very best it can be.

Preparing to Work in Home-based Childcare course

We recommend that you begin your career as a childminder with the best childminding training course, Preparing to Work in Home-Based Childcare (HBCA). It's a level 3 award that covers every aspect of being a registered childminder - from child nutrition to costs and charges and from meeting children's learning needs to working in partnership with parents and other professionals.

The HBCA course has been created by childcare experts to give you the very best foundations for a successful career as a registered childminder in England.

During the course, unit one covers:

  • Children’s learning and development, including why play is so vital to children's development, and how to promote it
  • Regulations and rules about home-based childcare, including the legislation you must know about
  • Safeguarding, child protection and health and safety in a home-based childcare environment
  • How to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion in your setting
  • Day to day care routines for children
  • Working in partnership with parents and other professionals
  • The role of observation has in planning and helping children learn

Unit two of the course will help you to set up a home-based childcare business. It covers:

  • Leading and managing a home-based childcare setting
  • Creating a business plan for successful business development
  • Managing your finances, including taxes
  • Registration requirements for home-based childcarers

Free added benefits

When you study the HBCA course with The Childcare Company, you’ll get three months’ free PACEY membership*. This means that as well as access to a host of member benefits, you’ll have all the support you need. This includes not only to access the materials that will help you complete your HBCA course, but that will help you to set up your childminding business as well.

First aid training

Before you apply to register with Ofsted, you need to have taken a paediatric first aid course - this is one designed for people working with children. The EYFS guidelines for childcarers state that first aid training must:

  • cater for practitioners caring for children in the absence of their parents 
  • be a minimum of 12 hours 
  • cover what to include in a first aid kit for babies and children 
  • demonstrate resuscitation techniques using models of babies and children, and give practitioners a chance to practise on models of each age group 
  • include how to record accidents and incidents appropriately.

PACEY works with Tigerlily Training to provide a suitable paediatric first aid qualification, ideal for your initial training.

The course is delivered by experienced tutors with an understanding of childcare settings. Their experience in delivering learning will give you the knowledge, skills and confidence required to effectively administer first aid, as well as meet the requirements of registration. Plus, PACEY members get a 10% discount.

Safeguarding training

If you work with children, you have a responsibility to help to protect them. You must be aware of your roles and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding, child protection and the welfare of children. Children are vulnerable and rely on adults to help them to feel safe and secure. You have a responsibility to ensure that children are able to grow and develop in a safe and stimulating environment.

The Safeguarding children course from PACEY has been designed to help you meet your responsibilities and is fully endorsed by CACHE. It will help ensure you have the confidence to recognise, respond to and refer a child for further help if you should have any concerns.

Food safety and hygiene training

If you provide food in your childcare setting it's important that you have a food safety and hygiene qualification.

Our Level 2 food safety and hygiene for early years settings course will give you the guidance you need. Accredited by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH), our course provides learners with up-to-date food hygiene information, case studies, interactive exercises and videos to ensure learners are aware of their food safety responsibilities.

Suitability checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

The DBS will help you show yourself to be suitable to care for children. Ofsted requires that you, and anyone over 16 associated with your application (for example, your partner or teenage children) obtains a DBS check. Ofsted's full requirements for DBS Update checks are available in this document. And we've pulled together some useful FAQs, below, to help explain it.

Frequently asked questions about DBS in England

Ofsted also strongly recommends that you join the DBS update service as part of your registration. Being part of the update service helps Ofsted monitor your ongoing suitability to work with and/or be in regular contact with children. You can keep your DBS certificates up to date online and allows employers to check your DBS status online. This is especially useful if you require a DBS check for voluntary work you do, for example.

Registering for the update service

You can register online for the update service as soon as you receive your application form reference number. Ask for the number when you make your DBS check application. Alternatively, you can register when you receive your DBS certificate, using the certificate number. If you do this, remember that you must register within 30 days of the certificate being issued. Registration lasts for one year and costs £13 annually (payable by debit or credit card only). 

Once you've successfully registered you can view your details online, using the ID number you'll be given with your registration.

When you register for the update, you’ll get an online account that lets you:

  • take your certificate from one job to the next
  • give employers permission to check your certificate online, and see who has checked it
  • add or remove a certificate.

Read the detailed guidance for applicants.

If you're awaiting the completion of a DBS check, you can monitor its progress using the DBS tracking service.

Health declaration

Before you can register, you need to prove that you are "physically and mentally capable of caring for children". You can do this by filling in Ofsted's health declaration booklet. You'll need to take your completed form to your doctor to sign. This will usually cost a fee.

Next steps

Once you have completed your training courses and got your DBS check and health declaration in place, it's time to contact Ofsted to join the relevant registers.

How much will it cost?

Like any new venture, there are start-up costs involved in becoming a childminder. These figures are for illustration purposes only but will help you understand how much the process is likely to cost.

Have a conversation with your local authority Early Years Team to see if they have funding available to help you set up as a childminder. This page about PACEY's Quality Start scheme will give the Early Years Team the information they need. 

Is childminding right for me? Online short briefing from PACEY (optional) £5
PACEY's recommended pre-registration training course, Level 3 Award in Home-based Childcare (HBCA).

***For May only***

£250 saving £44

Paediatric first aid training course From £85, depending on provider
Disclosure and Barring Service check From £46.10 (includes admin fees) plus optional annual renewal fee (currently £13)
Health declaration check From £35, depending on your Doctor's fees
Registration on Ofsted Early Years Register (if you're caring only for children under 5) £35*
Registration on Ofsted Childcare Register (if you're only caring for children aged 5-7) £104*
Full membership of PACEY including PACEY Practitioner insurance From £12.66 per month**
Registration with Information Commissioner's Office £40

*If you join both registers, you'll pay the lower fee. Different fees will apply if you join a childminder agency.

**Save £30 on PACEY Practitioner membership when you complete the HBCA with The Childcare Company and PACEY. 

There may be other associated costs as well, depending on your business model. For example, if you plan to play recorded music, you may need to apply for a joint PPL and PRS for Music licence and you're also likely to need to register with the Information Commissioner's Office which costs around £40.

If you've just started on the path to a career as a registered childminder you'll find our Business Smart section useful. It contains the lowdown on all you need to get started in this fantastically rewarding career, including details on accessing start-up loans.

Support

PACEY membership is the best way to get the support of experts and the reassurance of belonging to your professional association.

It's always worth getting in touch with your local authority early years team to see what help and advice they can give you in getting started as a childminder too. You can find contact details for your local council here.

PACEY Advisors

Exclusive to PACEY members, our advisors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the childcare and early years sector; offering 1-2-1 support, advice and guidance if you are in need of reassurance and inspiration.

For January only, you can speak to our PACEY Advisors, for FREE, about becoming a childminder, Monday to Friday 6.30pm- 9pm during January. Please call our Membership services team, Monday to Friday 10am- 3.30pm on 0300 003 0005 who will help book in this exclusive service for you.

Childminder grants scheme (England only)

Following the announcement of the new start-up grant for childminders at the Spring Budget on 15 March 2023, a £600 grant for those who register with Ofsted, and £1200 for those who register with a childminder agency, will be payable to any individual who has completed their childminder registration on or after 15 March 2023. New childminders will be able to apply for the grant from autumn 2023.

We are awaiting further details about the claim process.

Join our community

If you're starting on the road to registration as a childminder, come and join our specialist Facebook group First Steps to Childminding. You'll get support from others joining the profession, those newly registered and from our fanastic team of PACEY Advisors, on-hand to give you the support you need. 

Registration

Before you register as a childminder you need to have undertaken training and suitability checks. 

If you want to be paid to look after children under 8 in England for more than two hours a day, you must:

  • register with Ofsted on the Early Years Register if you plan to look after children aged 5 and under - that is from birth up to the 31 August after their 5th birthday
  • register with Ofsted on the Childcare Register to look after children aged 5 to 7 
  • if you want to look after children of all ages, you must apply to both registers.
  • Alternatively, you can register with an approved Childminder Agency.

Registration is essential if you want to be paid to look after children. You can receive an unlimited fine, be sent to prison, or both if you're providing childminding or daycare services without being registered.

Can I register?

Before you register, you must ensure that you:

  • have the right to work in the UK
  • are aged 18 or over
  • are allowed to work with children - you’ll need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check beforehand, along with everyone else you live with over 16. Questions? See our DBS FAQs.
  • are physically and mentally capable of caring for children. Your doctor will have to sign a health declaration booklet to confirm this.

You can’t register if you’re disqualified, for example:

  • if you're barred from working with children
  • if you've been refused registration previously
  • if you have had your registration cancelled for a reason other than for not paying your annual fee
  • if you live in the same place as someone else who is disqualified.

How long will it take to be registered?

It can take up to 12 weeks to become registered by Ofsted.

What about registering with a Childminder Agency?

A childminder agency is an organisation that is able to register childminders in England and may provide a range of services to its members and parents. Introduced by the Department for Education in 2013, childminder agencies are obliged by law to:

  • ensure a childminder’s suitability, including, where appropriate their capacity to deliver the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • support the training and development of childminders
  • help parents find and work with a suitable childminder
  • improve the quality of provision
  • monitor the standard of care provided by the childminders they register.

Childminder agencies may provide childminders with support services such as marketing, administration, training and development. They also carry out assessments of the childminders registered with them. Agencies may provide parents with matching services to help them find a childminder, as well as access to holiday and sickness cover.

How many childminder agencies are there?

Here is the current list of childminder agencies

How much does it cost to join a childminder agency?

It depends on the agency. Childminder agencies are self-financing businesses. This means that they have to charge childminders and/or parents who use their services a fee. Each agency is likely to operate differently and provide different services priced in different ways, depending on how much childminders and parents are willing to pay. Some charge a joining fee and then a monthly fee. They are also likely to have different terms and conditions for childminders who choose to join them. Childminders are advised to contact their local agency for more information on fees, as well as terms and conditions.

Do I have to join a childminder agency?

No. Individual childminders have a choice between individual Ofsted registration and joining an Ofsted-registered childminder agency.

Can I register with an agency and still be self-employed?

It depends on the agency. While some choose to employ the childminders who register with them, others allow childminders to remain self-employed.

Can I register with a childminder agency and still retain my individual Ofsted registration?

No, you can’t register with both Ofsted and a Childminding agency.

How are individual childminders inspected under the agency model?

Childminders who are registered with a childminder agency are not inspected by Ofsted. Instead, their performance will be assessed by their agency, which has a statutory duty to monitor the standard of care provided by the childminders it registers and improve the quality of provision. Each agency will have a different means of doing this, but it is likely agencies will carry out their own inspections of the childminders on their books.

How are childminder agencies inspected?

Childminder agencies are required by law to register with and be inspected by Ofsted. An inspection handbook has been published by Ofsted. During the inspection, agencies are assessed on three main areas:

  • the effectiveness of the leadership and management of the agency
  • the quality of the agency's services
  • the impact of the agency's services on the quality of the education and care provided by its childminders

Inspectors will visit a sample of childminders on the agency's books – normally 10% – to assess the effectiveness of the agency's arrangements for assuring the quality of its childminders and the accuracy of the agency's evaluation of quality.

Following their inspection, childminder agencies will receive a grade of 'effective' or 'ineffective'.

What happens next?

Once you've applied to be registered as a childminder, Ofsted will visit your setting to assess and approve your application for registration. This is called a pre-registration visit.

At this visit, the inspector will expect you to be ready to begin childminding, so you should ensure that you have everything ready.

If you want to work from more than one place you will need to state your request to use different settings in your application. You can also add additional premises to an existing registration, without having to complete a new registration application.

During their visit, the Ofsted inspector will:

  • check your identity, premises, and equipment
  • ask to see your DBS disclosure certificate
  • ask you how you plan to deliver all the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • assess how you will help children to make good progress with their learning and development while they are in your care
  • assess how you will meet safeguarding and welfare requirements.

All this helps them to decide your suitability as a childminder.

The inspector will usually tell you soon after the visit whether Ofsted is prepared to register you as a childminder.

Once you're registered

Congratulations! You’re now able to begin your career as a registered childminder, providing high-quality childcare and education for children.

Once you receive your certificate of registration from Ofsted, you must display it in your childminding setting where parents and carers can see it.

Ofsted registration requires you to hold appropriate public liability insurance (PLI) in place as soon as you are registered. PACEY’s Practitioner insurance, arranged and administered by Morton Michel Ltd and underwritten by QBE UK Limited, is designed for childminders, and included in membership. Call us on 0300 003 0005 to get your PACEY membership.

PACEY's Practitioner insurance provides PLI cover of £10,000,000 and professional indemnity cover of £100,000.

Inspections

Childminders in England are registered and inspected by Ofsted – the same body responsible for inspecting schools. All childminders registered on Ofsted's Early Years Register are inspected against the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

New childminders are inspected within 30 months of their registration to ensure the quality of the care they are providing. Inspectors visit the childminder and check that their home is safe and secure.

The inspector assesses the provider on three key areas of their provision:

  • how well their provision meets the needs of the range of children who attend
  • how well they identify any particular needs children may have and arrange appropriate help
  • the contribution practitioners make to the well-being of children and the effectiveness of leadership and management.

Inspection will consider the extent to which all children are supported to acquire the skills and capacity to develop and learn effectively and be ready for the next stages in their learning, especially school.

Childminders in England are registered on one or both parts of the Childcare Register. They must therefore always meet the requirements of one or both parts of the register when providing childcare.

Ofsted will normally only inspect a childminder's setting when they are caring for children. If the inspection is on a day when you don't have children with you, it is unlikely you will get a top grade, as the inspector considers the views and experience of the children and their families.

Join your professional association

Joining PACEY is the best way to demonstrate your commitment to your childminding career. As a member of the largest and longest established professional association representing childminders, you can be sure of getting the support, advice, training, backing and information you need.

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