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Childminders

Registered childminders provide care and learning opportunities for other people's children from their own home.

What is a childminder?

Childminders can care for up to six children under 12, including their own. Only three of these may be under five and usually only one under the age of one. There are some exceptions - for example, twins.

Both the home and the childminder are checked every year. All adults living in the childminder's home are checked by the police.

The Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA) provides guidance and training to childminders.

Childminders:

  • can be flexible about the hours that they work
  • can provide care, fun and learning in a home setting
  • children of different ages can be cared for together
  • are ideal for babies and under-twos, who need to be close to an adult
  • often offer a school pick-up-service
  • can be experienced mothers

Things to check with childminders:

  • that they are registered with the Early Years Team in your local Health and Social Care Trust and have insurance
  • that their home is safe with plenty of play and learning opportunity
  • that if your child will be travelling by car, the childminder has properly-fitted car seats
  • that the agreed contract covers hours, pay, illness, holidays

Questions to ask childminders:

  • how long have they been childminding and how long will they continue?
  • can they put you in touch with other parents they work for?
  • what are the ages of the children they look after?
  • what is the routine? How often do they take the children out and where? What activities will they do with your child?
  • what kind of food do they provide and is it included in the fee?
  • what other adults will be in the house?
  • who would the childminder call on in an emergency?
  • what do they do about things like sleep, potty-training and setting boundaries on behaviour? Discuss and agree the approach for your child
  • how does the childminder fit in household chores? Do they shop or take other children to school while your child is in their care?
  • can you see the last inspection report?
  • what are the costs, hours, holiday pay and other conditions?

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