Home childcarers

A home childcarer enables parents to have their children cared for in their own home. Parents may be eligible for financial help towards the cost, for example, through the Working Tax Credit or National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and childcare vouchers.

What is a home childcarer?

Home childcarers are professional childcarers, offering children safe, good quality care and providing them with play and learning opportunities that contribute to their development.

Some families, for example, those who work outside the traditional Monday to Friday, nine to five working hours, families with children with disabilities or larger families, may prefer childcare in their own home.

The Home Childcarer Approval Scheme

The Home Childcarer Approval Scheme provides recognised status for individuals providing childcare in a child’s own home. Whilst this type of childcare is not required by law to be registered, the checks undertaken by Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCT) provide a basic level of assurance for parents. Using an approved home childcarer also entitles parents to access childcare benefits and support that is made available by the Government.

The scheme:

  • verifies that the home childcarer has a relevant childcare qualification or has attended an induction course
  • verifies that the applicant has undergone suitable first aid training
  • confirms the identity of the home childcarer
  • undertakes a criminal records check, including the disqualification lists held by the Department of Health, (DoH) and the Department of Education (DE)
  • checks other HSC Trust records to make sure that there is nothing in the home childcarer’s background that suggests they are unsuitable to work with, or have unsupervised access, to children

The Home Childcarer Approval Scheme does not:

  • verify whether the home childcarer is eligible to work in the UK
  • clarify the age group the home childcarer is suited to work with
  • check the medical history of a home childcarer
  • guarantee that parents using an approved home childcarer are entitled to financial support
  • remove the parent’s ultimate responsibility to make sure that home childcarers are individually suitable to look after their children
  • allow parents to claim childcare benefits and support if using relatives for approved home childcare

Thinking of employing a home childcarer?

  • by using an approved home childcarer, you know that they have been checked and met basic criteria
  • you know the home childcarer has some understanding of children’s needs and what to do in an emergency
  • by using an approved home childcarer you may be able to access a range of financial support that is made available by Government to support the costs of childcare
  • you can arrange to have your child looked after in your own home
  • you have responsibilities as an employer of the home childcarer, for example, PAYE, terms and conditions of employment

If you are interested in employing a home childcarer, you can find out more by referring to ‘Employing a Home Childcarer: A Guide for Parents'.

 Family Support NI  details all approved home childcarers listed on the public register of registered and approved childcare in Northern Ireland.

Thinking of becoming a home childcarer?

If you are interested in becoming a home childcarer, you must:

  • be 18 or over
  • hold a childcare qualification or have attended a suitable induction course
  • have completed paediatric first-aid training
  • agree to a criminal records check, including a check of the disqualification lists held by DoH and DE and checks other HSC Trust records

By becoming a home childcarer you may widen your employment prospects in childcare, particularly through increased opportunity for employment with parents who may benefit from claiming financial support through the Working Tax Credit or NICs and childcare vouchers.

A career in childcare is highly rewarding and enables you to contribute to children’s development through providing developmental play and learning opportunities and approval provides recognised confirmation of childcare training and status

If you meet the above criteria, you can find out more by referring to ‘Being an approved home childcarer: A guide for home childcarers' and downloading an application form.

Home childcarers must have a relevant childcare qualification or have completed induction training before applying to become a home childcarer. Information on relevant training is available by contacting your local Childcare Partnership.  

Family Support NI

Family Support NI holds the Northern Ireland public register of all registered and approved childcare providers in Northern Ireland. You can use their website to search for registered and approved childcare in your local area.

Childcare Partnerships

Childcare partnerships are operated by the HSC Board to offer information and support to childcare providers, parents and employers.

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