Do you think being a childminder is the perfect job for you? Surely, it’s easy money and you get to work from home? Well, take a look at how you get started, what’s involved and more importantly, how much a childminder gets paid.
I’m a man of many talents, without actually mastering any of them. Not only do I work full-time, help raise 3 children and blog, I’m also a registered childminder’s assistant. Not because I want to spend my days off with other people’s children, but because my wife can earn more.
My wife has been a childminder for over 15 years now so has extensive knowledge when it comes to all things childminding. She even runs a Facebook page in our local town to help people find childminders.
However, I have noticed that people perceive it as being an easy job and I’ve seen plenty of childminders give up not long after they’ve started. That’s why I thought I would write a short post about what’s involved so that people have a better idea before they begin.
Do I need to register as a childminder?
This depends on your plans. You only need to register if you plan to look after children under the age of 8 for more than 2 hours at a time. If you’re only providing child care for short periods or to children aged 8 or over, you don’t need to register. This is why you will often find that after-school clubs will only look after children for a maximum of 2 hours so they don’t need to register as a care provider.
You’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t need to complete several years of training before you become a childminder, although it’s not all plain sailing. You will need to complete a pre-registration course with PACEY or your local authority. You will also need to undertake safeguarding and paediatric first aid courses and register with Ofsted.
Everybody in your household over the age of 16 will need to complete an enhanced DBS check. You (and your doctor) will also need to complete a health declaration form to say you are fit to work.
If you are providing any food at home, you will need to be registered as a food business with your local environmental health department. They may come to check your kitchen… or may not.
Finally, you will need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office, which allows you to keep data (such as information about children and their parents) and will set you back £35 per year for the pleasure.
In total, it can take around 6 months for everything to be ready so you can start work. It may take even longer, depending on how quick your local authority is.
You may also need to register with your local council. Many parents are entitled to between 15 and 30 hours worth of free childcare for 3 and 4 years old, so you will need to be registered to receive payment.
How many children can a childminder look after?
Childminders can look after a total of six children aged under 8. However, only three of these children can be under school age, of which, only one can be aged under 1. They can have as many children aged 8 or over, as long as it doesn’t impact on childcare and their liability insurance covers the number. Usually, this number is around 12.
How much does a childminder earn?
How much you can earn depends partly where you live. In our area, most childminders charge between £5-£5.50 per hour. However, in London, you can look at earning over £10 per hour. The only way to gauge how much you can earn is to see how much your competition charges.
So, if you charge £5 per hour and have 3 children for 8 hours, that will earn you £120 per day. If you manage this 5 days per week, that’s £600 per week. Annually, if you were to work 48 weeks, that would be £28,800. However, that is dependent on you being able to fill those spaces. Most parents only want a couple of days a week or a few hours per day, so you will need some juggling.
The majority of childminders (in our area anyway) seem to earn around £20-25k per year.
You can charge more for weekends and an out of hours service. How much you charge is totally down to how much you value your free time. But there’s no reason why you can’t charge anything between 25-50% extra.
First of all, you can more-or-less choose your own working days and hours. Of course, it helps to be flexible if you want to earn more. You can also manage your working hours around your own children (if you have any).
The kids can be great company for your own children too. At the moment, our son loves playing with 2 of the boys we look after and means he does more than just sit playing on his PlayStation.
And, if you like children, this should be the ideal type of job for you. Actually, it would be quite an odd career choice if you hated kids!
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Choosing your own and hours, getting paid a decent wage and all for just looking after kids. Well, think again.
It may sound perfect, being able to work from home, but there are quite a few downsides you need to consider when working as a childminder.
You lose a lot of privacy. Your house is no longer just a home but also a workplace. It is now frowned upon if I walk around my house in my under-crackers. There are parents picking up and dropping off most days, so it needs to be kept quite tidy too. Some days, you could have up to 10 visits!
It’s great when a parent arrives one morning with little Johnny in pants and tells you that they started potty training over the weekend and it’s going great. The truth is, it probably isn’t and you will spend the day taking them to and from the toilet and changing their clothes.
The attached child
We’ve been lucky and it’s only happened a couple of times, but occasionally there will be a child who will just want to attach themselves to you. If you walk out of the room, they cry. If you go to the toilet, they cry. If you stand up…
The issue is, you may have several other children to look after and it’s not fair on them or you. Sometimes, you have to be strong and tell their parents to look elsewhere. It really isn’t worth the money.
Most of the parents we have dealt with have been lovely. But, some like to push boundaries now again. If you start at 08:00, only let the child in at that time. Otherwise, it goes to 07:50, then 07:40 and you’re giving away free childcare. And you don’t want to be listening out for your doorbell half an hour before you’re due to start work. This is the same for pick-up times. Everybody is late now and again but some seem to do it constantly. When we started to charge for late pickups, people amazingly started to arrive on time!
Although there can be benefits for your children, you need to remember it’s their home too.
We looked after one of my daughter’s school friends for one afternoon a week. However, my daughter felt pressure to entertain her, when sometimes she just wanted to watch TV.
Generally, the majority of your mindees will be pre-schoolers. I have also noticed that as my children get older, they spend more time in their bedrooms and less time downstairs as they don’t want to play with 3 and 4-year-olds. However, I guess that’s probably natural progress for kids anyway.
You also have the threat of inspections from Ofsted hanging over you. They will need to come and visit you (usually around once every 3 years) to make sure that you’re providing suitable care.
And you will also have to write a lot of policies too. Policies cover almost every aspect of your work, from what you will do in the event of a fire to how you change nappies. They are not much fun to write and take quite some time to do, although you may be able to find some examples on the net.
You will need to do all your accounting and tax returns… unless you pay somebody to do it for you.
However, thanks to the NCMA/HMRC agreement (NCMA is now known as PACEY), the accounting side isn’t too difficult to complete, although it can be very time-consuming.
You will need to remember to put money aside throughout the year too, so you have enough to pay your tax bill.
I have tried to cover most of the points with regards to becoming a childminder and I hope you have found them useful. If you have any questions, please ask below and hopefully I (or more likely my wife) can answer them.