So, you are a working mum; perhaps a housekeeper takes a lot of the household concerns off your shoulders, and a child minder looks after your youngster while you are slaving away.
Your child minder says she is qualified and, of course, that puts your mind at rest … but what does “qualified” mean?
It’s not enough for your child minder to say they are qualified. YOU should be as aware of the regulations as they are – to protect your own interests and those of your child or children.
Certainly, at one time, a friend could take on the child minder role, perhaps looking after several children in her own home, but as they say, the times they are a’ changing… and in fact have already radically changed.
As time has passed and legislation has changed, it has become necessary now for all child minders to be registered and assessed before they can look after the children of anyone else.
So who does the assessing? The answer is Ofsted.
To become a registered child minder the person must first meet the guidelines laid down by Ofsted and these are backed up by a home visit to the child minder’s home, or where they plan to carry out their child minding.
This location must be safe from the dangers that face young children and additionally must be a stimulating environment.
Ofsted also require new child minders to carry out a paediatric first-aid course (first aid for children) as well as introductory courses in child minding and they must also have an enhanced Criminal Records Disclosure.
This CRB, as it is commonly known, is required by law by anyone who works with children, the elderly or other groups regarded as being vulnerable.
Without this CRB check, Ofsted will refuse the applicant the right to operate as a child minder.
Only when the applicant has received their accreditation from Ofsted – along with the accompanying certificate, which must be displayed – then and only then may they start as a child minder.
Child minders may also enroll and study for a diploma qualification (Diploma in Home-Based Childcare). This qualification, upon completion and award, is the equivalent to an NVQ Level 3 qualification and is now the industry standard for child minding.
There are also regulations about the numbers of children relating to age groups. Child minders may care for a maximum of six children under the age of eight. Three of these may be in the early years age group, i.e. under five, and one may be aged under one.