I am going to tell you a story about two people who want to be childminders…….. Part Two   1 comment


Part one of this story was about Paula who became a childminder, at some point in the future, through a Children Centre and joined their agency as a self employed childminder.

Part two is about Jo who also wants to become a registered childminder. Like Paula Jo lives on the same estate as me, which already has several established childminder settings.

Please remember it is just a story ……..

Jo has just been made redundant and has had to very reluctantly give notice to her childminder of almost 4 years. Sally Ann has been looking after Jo’s twin daughters 3 days a week since they were 18m old and the girls have recently started school and had remained with Sally Ann for before and after school care.

Jo was dreading telling Sally Ann as she knew that Sally Ann would miss the girls and the income. However Jo did not have to worry because Sally Ann knew that Jo would have to give notice under the circumstances and so was prepared for it.

In fact it was Sally Ann who suggested to Jo that she should consider becoming a childminder, and it was Sally Ann who suggested that Jo paid the notice period over 2 months instead of the 1 month as in the contract – saying she knew things were going to be tight financially. Jo really appreciated Sally Ann’s understanding and help – something which had always been evident in the parent / childminder partnership.

Sally Ann emailed Jo later that same day with some links to websites such as Pacey, Ukcma, ICE-se and the Pre- school learning Alliance, which (at that point in the future) all had lots of information about becoming a childminder, and suggested Jo take a look and have a think about if she felt registering as a childminder was a possibility for her. Sally Ann suggested that once Jo had looked at the websites – that she popped round one evening after the minded children had gone home.

Jo did just that and boy did she have a lot of questions! It all seems so complicated she said to Sally Ann, so many options how do I know which is the best option for me.

So Sally Ann put the kettle on and explained to Jo that yes it was complicated, but the first decision Jo had to make was if she wanted to be an independently Ofsted registered  childminder or to register through a childminder agency.

It did take a while for Jo to grasp the main differences but eventually she said ‘You are an independently Ofsted registered childminder aren’t you Sally Ann – and I know that you always worried about your Ofsted inspection – but as a parent I was glad you did have an Ofsted inspection as it was reassurance that my ‘gut feeling’ about you was right.’

That ‘gut feeling’ is so important’ said Sally Ann ‘Parents should visit several childminders and nurseries before deciding on childcare for their child – with agencies that is not so easy and you get ‘matched’ with the childminder who the agency thinks is best for you’

‘Oh that is not right’ said Jo ‘ I would have hated that’

‘The thing about agencies is a lot of the personal negotiations and compromises, that are part and parcel of partnership between childminder and parents, are not possible due to the contract conditions between childminder and agency’

‘My mind is made up’ stated Jo ‘ I want to be an independently Ofsted registered childminder’  ‘BUT’ how will I find out what I need to do? Who will help and support me? How will parents find out that I am a childminder? – I am worried because it seems that unless you join an agency you are on your own’

Sally Ann smiled to herself ‘That is what the government would like you to think’

‘ You will not be on your own at all, childminders have always supported each other – it is called Peer to Peer support. The only sad thing is some prospective or new childminders just don’t get to know about peer to peer support – but things are improving thanks to the internet’

Jo is beginning to think that it may be possible to register as a childminder without going through a childminder agency, and certainly she does not fancy being told what to do and how to do it – if she joined an agency as an employed childminder, nor does she want to pay for services that she can provide herself  – with this peer to peer support that Sally Ann is talking about.

‘Ok’ says Jo to Sally Ann ‘What do I do next?’

‘You could come along to the local childminders drop in group and just chat to some of the other childminders – we do advertise these sessions and they are open to anyone because we think prospective  childminders need to know all the facts. Some will think joining an agency is the right choice for them and so we do provide information about agencies.

Then if still interested in becoming an independent Ofsted registered childminder, you could book a place on our ‘Interested in becoming a childminder session’ which we run every couple of months. There will be lots of information, including details of where you can access the training courses that you need, plus all the forms you will need to start the process – and experienced childminders to help and support you. Also if you want to,  you can be paired with a ‘buddy’ who will be an experienced childminder and who will be happy to support you through phone calls, and emails and face to face at group meetings and other events.

‘Is there a cost for all this?’ asks Jo

Sally Ann explains ‘We do ask for a contribution for any documents that we have had to print, and a donation to the group to help with the cost of hiring the hall and providing the refreshments’ but we do not expect people to pay out more than they can afford’

Sally Ann smiles again ‘To be honest, by asking for contributions and donations rather than setting an actual fee, we usually more than cover our costs because people appreciate the fact that we provide this service and do not charge for our time’

Jo is quite excited by now and tells Sally Ann that she is going to get things started straight away and will pop into the childminders drop in next time it is on.

Jo does register as an independent Ofsted registered childminder, she does have questions and stumbling blocks along the way but her local buddy and the wider childminding community via social media sites and childminding forums always provide the answers and the support needed.

Once registered Jo joins the local group and soon has her first minded child by using the groups vacancy scheme, the second child comes from a word of mouth contact when another group childminder has an enquiry that can not accommodate and so passes on Jo’s name.

It is true that Jo does not have a visit every 6 weeks from an agency staff member – but then she doesn’t need it because she has her own peer to peer support network; because she attends the childminders drop in, and has become good friends with a couple of other local childminders and they often meet up for play at each others houses or go on outings to parks etc together.

Jo has also joined a national membership organisation, and attends local and regional training/ peer support events.

Jo is very happy that she choose to become an independent Ofsted Registered childminder and is really enjoying her new career – and is now even thinking about having her own website

One response to “I am going to tell you a story about two people who want to be childminders…….. Part Two

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  1. Being an independent childminder = a far better scenario than an agency childminder! More support, less confusion and a better (and more lucrative) business model for childminders. Lovely blog Penny!

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