Childminder ratios

Registered childminders are given a maximum number of children that they can care for at any one time.

Because of the differences in registration requirements between England and Wales, the number of children that childminders in these countries can care for is slightly different.

Childminders in England

In England the number of children a childminder may care for and the indoor space requirements are set out in the EYFS statutory framework for childminders, Safeguarding and Welfare requirements.

A childminder may care for a maximum of six children under the age of 8. Of these six children, a maximum of three may be young children and there should only be one child under the age of one (a child is a young child until 1st September following their 5th birthday). 

If a childminder can demonstrate to parents and/or carers and, depending on how they are registered, Ofsted inspector or their CMA, that the individual needs of all the children are being met, exceptions to the usual ratios can be made. Examples of permissible exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • When childminders are caring for siblings, or
  • when caring for their own child, or
  • to maintain continuity of care, or
  • if children aged three to five only attend the childminding setting before and/or after a normal school day, and/or during school holidays, they may be cared for at the same time as three other young children.

However, you must keep in mind these key conditions:

  • the childminder must be able to demonstrate to parents and/or carers and Ofsted inspectors or their childminder agency that the individual needs of all the children are being met
  • In all circumstances, the total number of children under the age of 8 being cared for must not exceed six per adult.

In all cases, when deciding to care for additional children in the early years age group childminders should consider:

  • the length of time they are providing care
  • whether their furniture, indoor space and equipment is sufficient
  • how they will deliver the learning and development requirements of the EYFS to all the children they care for and help them make the best possible progress
  • how they organise their day so that all children get enough of their time
  • whether they have assessed and mitigated any risks in relation to taking on any additional children, for example through considering how they might have to rearrange play spaces to cope with an extra child or manage outings.

If a childminder employs an assistant or works with another childminder, each childminder (or assistant) may care for the number of children permitted by the ratios specified above.

For childminders providing overnight care, the ratios set out above continue to apply and the childminder must always be able to hear the children (this may be via a monitor).

Childminders in Wales

Under the 'National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare for children up to the age of 12 years' childminders may care for no more than 10 children under 12.

  • of those 10 children, no more than six may be under 8 years of age
  • no more than three children may be under the age of 5
  • normally no more than two children may be under 18 months of age, although exceptions can be made for siblings.

Where a childminder employs an assistant, the same adult:child ratios apply for any additional children. However, the space available for children on the premises may also affect the numbers for which provision can be registered.

Children aged 3 to 5 years who attend full-time education provision may be classed as over-5s for the purposes of the ratios relevant to childminders.

The ratios include the childminder's own children and any others for whom they are responsible and who are on the premises. Students on training placements of 12 weeks or less are not included in the adult:child ratio.