Setting Up a Childminding Business: Case Study

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If you’re thinking about setting up a childminding business, it’s an idea you should have a good degree of confidence in.

One of the first things any working parent must consider is childcare; There are a vast array of nurseries and pre-schools, but these are not always convenient and many operate only during school hours and term times.

There is a huge demand for childminding, making it is an excellent prospect for those considering working from home too.

We spoke to Sarah Jayne Woodhall. She’s 37, based in the UK, and a mother of two teenage children. She has been childminding for seven years now and works from Monday to Friday between 7.30 and 6 pm.

Why did you decide to set up a childminding business?

When my children were young, I worked night shifts in a care home and then got a job in an outpatient’s department at the hospital. I had to send my own children to a childminder as I worked shifts. After a few months, I decided it was not worth me going to work.

After a few months, I calculated that it was not worth me going to work. By the time I had paid out for the childcare and petrol, I was only bringing home about GBP£20 a week!

My childminder at the time then told me she was retiring, so I thought it would be a job that I could do instead.

Photo of childminder, Sarah, at home

Did you have any childcare experience?

I had been helping out as a leader at the local Brownie (GirlScout) group for the previous five years, so I had experience in working with children. I enquired about childminding, went along to an information session and decided that setting up a childminding business was the job for me.

Is there much training and preparation involved?

I had to do a seven-week course (every Saturday), to learn about health and safety, what policies and procedures I would require, and what the Ofsted requirements were. (Editor’s note: Ofsted is the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).

I also attended training in first aid, safeguarding and child protection.

After finishing the course, I had to wait three months for the authorities to visit my property to make sure everything was in place and that the property was safe. I then had the go-ahead to start.

Were there many start-up costs?

When I started up, I didn’t have too much to pay out as the childminder who retired gave me some toys to start me off.

I had to pay out for insurance, contracts, health forms and a first aid kit.

I was lucky when I started as the police checks and training was free. Nowadays you must pay for them in the UK. Most training sessions are between £10-20 (US$14-27). The first aid, safeguarding and child protection must be done every three years when you run a childminding business.

It did take a long time to get all the policies and procedures written up, but now they are in place I just have  to update them when any changes occur.

Do you make a living from Childminding?

Yes. Running my childminding business is my only job; I currently have 17 children on the books! I have been lucky in that I have not needed to advertise and most of my children have been from word of mouth and friends recommending me on social media.

Are there any downsides to your work?

I do enjoy childminding but there is a lot of paperwork involved. I think most people think a childminder just plays all day!

I must complete daily records, activity planning, tracker sheets and observations. It can also be hard keeping up with changes from Ofsted. What they expect from you is constantly changing! 

Would you recommend setting up a childminding business?

I would recommend doing childminding to those it appeals to, because you can choose what hours you work, have lots of fun with the children, and help them learn and develop.

Being a childminder working from home has allowed me to be home for my children before and after school, and allowed me to attend school events such as sports day, taking the minded children with me.

Are there any restrictions on the number of children you can care for?

Here in the UK, I can look after six children under the age of eight. I can have three under-fives at any one time, and of those three, only one baby under one year of age.

What would you say to anyone considering becoming a childminder?

For someone thinking of doing childminding in the UK, I would say to be ready to wait for two to three months after training before you actually begin work, due to the wait for Ofsted to visit. Read up on the development areas for the children, and don’t be put off by the paperwork! Once you have the initial policies, procedures and risk assessments in place it all becomes a lot easier!

Providing an outdoor play space is a must wherever possible!

If you’re interested in starting your own childminding business IN THE UK, this book is essential reading. You’ll also find information on how to register as a UK childminder here.

If you’re in the US, the culture and rules around childminding are rather different, and it’s fair to say there are fewer legal requirements. This book is a good starting point to learn about providing daycare in the US. 

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