Register as a childminder in England

Remember, before you register you need to have undertaken training and suitability checks. Read more about them here.

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
  • 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?

For childminders, it can take up to 12 weeks to become registered by Ofsted.

Once you've applied to be registered as a childminder, Ofsted will visit your setting to assess and approve your application for registration. 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 of 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 or not 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.

You must also have appropriate public liability insurance (PLI) in place as soon as you are registered. PACEY’s PLI insurance, underwritten by Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance PLC is designed especially for childminders. Call us on 0300 003 0005 to get your insurance and PACEY membership.

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

What about registering with a Childminder Agency?

Whilst childminder agencies have been a legal option to register as a childminder since 2013, today there are still only 11 agencies in existence and most childminders choose to remain independently registered with Ofsted.

It's up to you to decide if the agency or direct registration with Ofsted suits you best.

You should take time to find out about the agency as they are all is different – what support do they offer? What fee do they charge you for that support? What do other local childminders think of the agency? What do parents think? You’ll then be in the best position to decide.

PACEY remains sceptical about childminder agencies because of feedback from our members and from parents. In particular:

Ofsted grades

We know that parents value Ofsted registration and take Ofsted grades into consideration when deciding which childcare to use for their child. A childminder is individually registered and inspected by Ofsted; an agency childminder is not. Instead they must rely upon Ofsted inspection of the agency. Parents and PACEY members have told us that individual inspection by Ofsted is too valuable to their business to give it up.

Fees

Each agency will make different charges for support, registration, training, or for matching you with prospective families etc. While this may make running your business seem easier, you need to consider how much the agency charges for this support and how this will impact on the income you make each month from your childminding.

Take the time to investigate what support is already available for you for free from your local authority and what alternative support e.g. from a membership organisation is available. Again, PACEY members tell us they can get the support they need from their local authority, from PACEY and/or from their local childminding groups and peers.

Members are also concerned that if the agency matches them with potential families, they lose the ability to independently decide which families they support. Some are concerned that if they turn down to many families from the agency, they would stop referrals in the end.

Future-proofing

The law makes clear that if you register with an agency you cannot also register as an independent childminder or with other agencies. What is unclear is what happens if the agency you are with closes or you decide to move to a different area.

With so few childminder agencies, there are limited options available to anyone who wants to change agencies for whatever reason. PACEY member are clear that independent registration gives them more flexibility for the future as well as autonomy to decide what services to offer as a childminder and when.

Conflicts

The agency approach has a number of potential conflicts for a childminder that you should consider before deciding to join one. If you want to work specific hours or days, will the agency accommodate this for you? How do they manage local competition and ensure all the childminders on their register receive the same support; have the same number of parents contacting them about childcare.

Ultimately, whether you register with an agency or not, you remain solely responsible for the children in your care. You will still need insurance, you will still need to meet the qualifying criteria e.g. to demonstrate up to date safeguarding, food hygiene and paediatric first aid knowledge. Training to ensure this is a cost you have to bear whether or not you join an agency.

PACEY members have recognised, once they have reflected on the pros and cons, that remaining independently registered with Ofsted is best for their future business.

Read more about Childminder Agencies.