Choosing a Childminder

What is a Childminder?

A childminder is a person who single-handed, cares for children in their home or in the childs home.

Not all childminders are officially inspected. The Childcare (Pre-School Services) Regulations 1996 state:

  • A single-handed childminder should look after no more than six children including her own who are under the age of 6 years of age and no more than 3 of these should be under 1 year of age,
  • A childminder is allowed to look after 3 pre-school age children before they are required to notify the HSE
  • A childminder caring for 4 or more pre-school age children is required under the Childcare (Pre-School services) Regulations 1996 to notify the HSE. An application form may be obtained from the HSE
  • If a childminder notifies the HSE, then they will be subject to official inspections of their service.

How do I find a childminder?

  • Contact the HSE for a list of notified childminders
  • Contact the Cork County Childcare Committee for details of childminders in your area
  • Ask friends, relations or neighbours for recommendations
  • Look out for childminder's advertisements
  • Advertise in your local area

Steps to Choosing a Childminder

  • If possible contact a number of childminders and arrange to meet a few in your area
  • Prepare a list of questions and issues you want clarified to help you choose your childminder

What should I ask when I first make contact with the Childminder?

  • What are your opening hours?
  • What are your fees?
  • Is there flexibility around part time arrangements?
  • Is your service fully insured, including outings and car travel?
  • Is your service notified to the HSE or the Cork County Childcare Committee?
  • How many children are you caring for now? What ages are they? What would be the maximum number?
  • Do you have references and are copies available?

What should I ask when I first visit the childminders home?

  • How long have you been caring for children?
  • What training have you undertaken?
  • Do you have first aid training?
  • What will my child do all day?
  • How often do the children go outside?
  • Where will my child sleep?
  • May I look around the rooms and outdoor area used by the children?
  • Do you provide meals? Do you have a menu plan?
  • What happens if my child has an accident or becomes ill?
  • What happens if you have an accident or become ill?
  • Who else will have contact with my child?
  • How do you encourage positive behaviour?
  • Can I visit anytime my child is with you?
  • Do I fill in forms providing information about my child?
  • Will there be time at the end of the day to discuss my child and his/her development?
  • Will we sign a written agreement?

What do I look for in the home?

  • Is the environment bright, clean, safe, warm and caring?
  • Is the area being used suitable?
  • Are there toys and equipment available for the needs of all age groups of children in the service?
  • Are the toys clean and well maintained?
  • Observe the childminder at their work and their interactions with the children. Are the interactions positive? Are the children happy in the childminders company?
  • Where do the children sleep? Do they have individual places to sleep? How are they checked?
  • Where will nappy changing/toileting take place?
  • What kind of activities are the children involved in?
  • Is there a safe, well fenced outdoor area for children to play in each day?

Helping your child settle in

  • Agree a settling in plan with your childminder
  • Allow time to support your child through this new experience
  • Introduce your child with short visits initially
  • Gradually increase the length of stay
  • Always say good bye and collect at the time agreed
  • Make sure your child has their favourite toys or comfort objects as a link with home
  • Ensure your childminder understands your special words and routines
  • Plan a time with your childminder to exchange any relevant daily information
  • Talk things over with your childminder about how you want your child cared for.
  • Phone during the day or turn up unexpectedly occasionally if you need to reassure yourself that your child is happy
  • Always discuss any concerns you may have with your childminder

Valuing your childminder

It is important to recognise Childminders as professionals, offering a professional service. The service they provide is home-based, personal, flexible, adaptable and child-centred. Your child will be cared for in an environment which will take into account his/her individual needs and routines. Childminders can offer all the time, attention and patience needed when babies are learning to walk, talk and feed themselves. Childminders often care for children from the time they are babies until they start secondary school. Children benefit greatly from this kind of stability. Children looked after by a childminder enjoy real life experiences within a home setting. They will be sharing the care of your child with you.

Childminders will feel much more valued if you:

  • Abide by your written agreement
  • Are punctual
  • Do not overstay when picking up your child/children
  • Pay on time
  • Discuss in advance any changes in agreements
  • Talk regularly about your childs progress
  • Communicate concerns
  • When the childminding arrangement comes to an end, do so in a planned and positive way

General Information

Parent/Childminder relationship
Regular communication is essential for keeping a good working relationship. Your childminder is a very important part of you and your childs life and mutual respect and courtesy are essential.

Written contract
We would recommend that you have written agreement setting out childminding times, payments, holidays, collections, illness, food and baby needs etc. Written agreements ensure that everyone's expectations are clear from the start of the working relationship. Reviewing the contract every 12 months gives the parent and the childminder a chance to talk about the childs needs and the parent's expectations

Child Protection
Parents have the primary responsibility for the care and protection of their children. Childminders have responsibility to ensure the health, safety, welfare and protection of children whilst in their care.

Behaviour Management
Children come from a variety of backgrounds with different parental expectations about their childrens behaviour. Discuss positive behaviour management with your Childminder. Ensure agreement is reached on what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and how unacceptable behavious is dealt with.

Equal Opportunity
Children learn to respect the individuality and diversity of others when they are cared for by adults who themselves show the respect.

New Relationship
Your child will need time to form new relationships with the Childminder and any other children they may be caring for. There are no hard and fast rules and each child and each Childminder will be different. Patience, understanding and an awareness of the childrens needs are essential.

What if things don't work out?
If any thing is worrying you, you should speak to your childminder straight away. Encourage your childminder to do the same so that small problems dont build up to be big problems. Most difficulties can be settled through a friendly chat or by referring back to the contract.

Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information s accurate and up to date. No responsibility for loss or distress to any person/ setting refraining from acting as a result of the materials in this publication can be accepted by Cork County Childcare Committee Ltd. and/or their respective servants or agents.