Childminders care for babies and children, aged up to 16. They usually work in their own homes.
You could be:
making sure the children you care for are safe and well looked after
changing nappies, cooking, feeding and washing the children
giving emotional support to children, making sure they are secure and happy
encouraging children to learn through books, toys and games
taking young children to parks, toddler groups and playgroups, and encouraging them to play with other children
taking older children to nursery and school and collecting them at the end of the day
respecting the wishes of children’s parents about daily routines, diet and religion
negotiating contracts and fees with parents.
You might specialise in looking after children with special needs.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates vary, depending on:
where you work
the demand for the job.
Childminders are self-employed and therefore negotiate their own rates of pay and working conditions. They are responsible for their own tax and National Insurance (NI) payments.
There is no national rate for fees but across Scotland current rates advertised are between £3.50 and £5.50 per child per hour. Most childminders offer a reduced rate if they look after more than one child from the same family.
In 2018 the average hourly rate for a childminder in Scotland was £4.29 per hour (from the Scottish Childminding Association Pay and Conditions Survey 2018).
You would be self-employed, usually working from your own home, so work arrangements vary.
Young children need a lot of physical care such as feeding and toileting.
Children can be noisy and demanding.
You would probably have pre-school children all day and school age children before and after school, so hours can be long, including early mornings, afternoons and evenings.
To some extent, you can set your own hours of work but you might need to be flexible and negotiate with the parents of the children you care for.
Depending on your home, you can care for no more than 6 children under 12 (including your own children). No more than 3 of these may be of pre-school age and no more than 1 should be under 1 year old.
If you provide a food service for the children, you will have to register with the local authority's environmental health department.
You could choose what ages of children to care for – some childminders do not take babies under 2, some do not take children over 12.
You do not always need formal qualifications but previous experience with children is very desirable.
If you want to study, you could take a National Qualification (NQ) or National Certificate (NC) in Early Education and Child Care or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in Social Services (Children and Young People) (see Early Learning and Childcare Practitioner).
The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) run a Childminding Induction Support Programme. This costs £200, but you may be able to fund this with an Individual Training Account (ITA).
You must be registered with the Care Inspectorate to look after a child in your home for more than two hours every day.
The Care Inspectorate will interview you and visit your home to check that it is safe for children. They may ask you to put in, for instance, stair gates. You have to meet fire regulations.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need. This applies to all members of your household aged 16 and over. The Care Inspectorate will do further checks each year.
You must be at least 18 years of age.
You must be fit and healthy to supervise and care for children.
warm and friendly – to give children emotional support
interested in the education and development of young children
able to get on well with children
able to multitask and look after several children at once
able to remain calm and have lots of patience
You should have:
imagination and initiative for planning activities
the ability to stay calm in an emergency
an understanding of different cultures and parenting styles.
The SCMA runs approved short courses, usually in association with local authorities or colleges.
The SCMA also offers continuing professional development (CPD) workshops to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. Contact the SCMA for details.
You may wish to do further training to get a full qualification in childcare and education (see Early Learning and Childcare Practitioner). This will develop your skills but will not change the work you do as a childminder.
You may choose to be a childminder if you have young children and then move into work as a nursery nurse when your children are older.
Remember that when you set up as a childminder you will have to pay for:
your registration with the Care Inspectorate
insurance to cover you in case of any accidents
possible alterations to your house or garden to make them safe
equipment, including high chairs, toys, games, books, smoke alarms, fire guards and fire blankets
first aid training.
Total start up costs could range from £80 to £500, depending on how much you need to do to comply with regulations. Depending on where you live, you may get a grant to help with some of these items.