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What should I do when my child starts at the childminders?

Try to visit the childminder a few times before your child starts but don’t be surprised if your child is upset on the first day, this is a big experience for them. They are probably feeling uneasy but they also pick up on your feelings too and if they think they can cause a little upset they probably will!

If your child is upset at the thought of you leaving them it is not advisable to sneak out, although this seems an easy option your child may not trust you in the future. Reassure your child that you will be back and then leave. Don’t be tempted to come back, this only makes matters worse, children nearly always settle as soon as they realise mum or dad isn’t there, they see the nice new toys and are keen to play! Your childminder will be used to settling in new children and will probably have some special activities planned to help your child settle.

What about Tax Credits and funding?

You may be able to get help with your childcare fees through the Tax Credits scheme. Find out more here

Some childminders work in accredited networks so can claim the Early Education Funding for 3 and 4 year olds. This scheme is not available in all areas so if your childminder is not part of the accredited network scheme then they may be willing to take your child to another setting i.e. a school nursery where funding is available.

I’ve heard of a new scheme where a childminder can care for my child in my own home?

Yes, it’s called 'Homecarers', it allows children to be cared for in their own home, rather than at the home of the carer. A home carer must be over 18 years of age caring for children aged birth to 17 years in the child's own home or if caring for children of no more than two families, they must give the care wholly or mainly at the home of one or both families at any one time, such as a nanny share.

Home childcarers do not have to register with Ofsted but may choose to register on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register, if they do it enables eligible parents to claim the childcare element of working families tax credits. Home childcarers on the Childcare Register must meet the requirements for registration set out by Ofsted.

My Childminder wants me to pay a retainer, do I have to?

If you ask a childminder to keep a space for future use by your child, a retainer fee may be charged. This is usually 50% of the full childminding fee. A good childminder is worth their weight in gold and a small retainer is a small price to pay to ensure they can keep a space for your child.

This does not mean that the childminder is being paid for nothing. Because of the limitations of registration the childminder may actually lose income because they will have to turn away other parents who might have filled the place more quickly.

By accepting a retainer fee the childminder is undertaking NOT to fill that vacancy during the period of the retainer and must be available for work during the agreed time, so if you want a day out shopping or need to start work earlier than expected then the childminder will, with sufficient notice of course, take your child. You would then be charged the full childminding fee. For example, if £30.00 has been paid as a half-fee retainer and the place is to be used for a full week, the childminder would be entitled to another £30.00 to make up the full fee. You must however give your childminder some notice if you wish to do this.

The amount of the retainer fee should be discussed between you and your childminder and should be written into the contract.

If the place is not taken up by the parent, the retainer fee will not be returned.


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