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How to choose a childminder?

(10 Posts)
LisMcA Mon 11-Jul-11 10:42:51

DS is 10 weeks and after going to see a few local nurseries, we think that we would like to use a childminder when I go back to work in the autumn. The olny thing is I have no idea how to go about it. The health visitor said they used ot give out a list of local Cms but don't do that know and I'd be best to find one myself. But how??

Do I just contact them to find out if they are available, go and visit? I have no clue!! Plus we aren't 100% on when I will go back to work and what days etc. Is it best to know that first? Or find childminder we like and fit work in round when they are avaialble?

Is there a grading system for CMs? Or can i see inspection reports before making a decision? I'm in Scotland if that makes any difference.

Al1son Mon 11-Jul-11 16:22:42

Get the list and phone round to see who has spaces for when you are likely to need them. If there's anything which would be a deal-breaker, for instance having you take the baby on school runs, ask about that on the phone then make appointments to visit the others.

Yes you can look at Ofsted reports but TBH they don't necessarily tell you what you need to know. I would go for the gut feeling you get when you walk into the setting and whether you agree on parenting styles etc. Ofsted are still very education focussed and that's not what's important when your baby is this small.

I'd be put off by anyone who had an inflexible settling in routine because parents should be acknowledged as knowing their baby best and should take the lead in terms of settling in.

Don't make any commitments until you've seen all the settings and found one that feels right for your child. Then you can agree any deposits, start dates, etc. You may well have to pay a retainer but it's well worth it if you find somewhere you feel happy with.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly Mon 11-Jul-11 20:06:15

Hit up the website, it is run by the SCMA and they have a search facility on there.

I would contact them and find out what availability they have and a little about what they do, what hours, where do they go (toddlers, soft play, parks etc)

When you visit they will show you around their home (the areas used only for minding) and their certificates, of registration with SCSWIS (formerally the care commission), insurance, disclosure scotland, SCMA membership and any training they have completed. Mine are all up on the wall for everyone to see smile They should also be able to show you their most recent reports from SCSWIS or care commission, although don't always go just by the reports.

Here are some questions you might like to ask them these are from the SCMA website

•How long have you been working with children?
•Why do you enjoy being with children?
•Have you undertaken any training for your job?
•Do you have any qualifications?
•Can I see the rooms you use for childminding?
•Do you have any outside play space? (If there is no outside play space, ask how they will ensure your child gets the chance to play outside i.e. local parks).
•Where will my child rest?
•What kind of food and drink will you give them?
•What will my child do during the day?
•How do you encourage good behaviour?
•Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they? How will their timetable fit in with my child?
•How will you make sure I know how my child is getting on?
•What happens if my child is unwell?
•Do you have a welcome pack/leaflet that tells me about your service?
•Can I see your Registration Certificate/SCSWIS Inspection Report/Public Liability Insurance Certificate?

Also ask them about their fees (if they dont not tell you first lol) what do they charge? what about holidays theirs and yours, sick days theirs and yours, notice period for both sides etc and also settling in periods

What are of Scotland are you in? I am a cm and know alot and may be able to recomend someone smile

Paula x

LisMcA Tue 12-Jul-11 15:53:06

Thanks Paula, great post! I'm just outside Livingston.

I'm thinking about going backto work after christmas, is it too soon to start looking? If it find someone I like now, will they hold a place until I return to work? Or will I have to pay a "deposit" to keep the place?

I really know nothing about all thisconfused

FoxyRevenger Tue 12-Jul-11 15:56:58

Oh this thread could have been written by me! I'm also in Scotland and just starting to look for a CM for 2 or 3 days a week, and have no idea how to do it. I am scared of making the wrong decision as have already given nursery a go and had to quit my job as my daughter hated it so much. Can't get it wrong again.

Paula, I am in Tayport, Fife, if you have any pointers?


evitas Tue 12-Jul-11 16:51:04

Hi ladies,

I'm in Edinburgh and this was how I found my childminder.
In fact she was the one who was closest to us, just 5 minutes walking.
The first time I visited her, she insisted we would go during her normal working hours so we could meet the other children she was looking after. one of the things that impressed me the most was how organised she was. She showed us the journal she edits every 3 months with the children's news, the diary and folders of every child, the activities (play and singing groups, trips to the park), her house was very clean and all the children seemed very happy.
I also looked at her reports and she has very good rates.
But trust your gut feelings during the first visit.

Good luck

evitas Tue 12-Jul-11 16:53:17

oh, forgot to say, ask if they do a trial period (free of charge) like nurseries. That will help to see how the first visits go.

meriden Tue 12-Jul-11 17:10:21

I'd probably look at the ages of the children she's looking after too - what the mix is like and see if it's the kind of environment you're looking for. Whereas one person might like a cminder who just takes one baby at a time, others would prefer a few others there for their child to interact with. Agree with above, call some up and visit and you'll know when you find the right one through instinct.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly Wed 13-Jul-11 19:12:55

Hi Lis,

I really only know people in South Lanarkshire smile - sorry! lol

It's not too soon to start looking. Childminders in general can only have one child under the age of one, so you may find yourself looking about a bit as some may already have an under one. Once you find one you like they may ask for a retainer fee, this retains your space and is normally 50% of your usual fees. So if normally your fees would be £150 a week then a retainer fee would be around £75. This keeps your space open and the childminder can't let anyone have your space. Obviously if a cm was to keep the space open for 6 months they could lose alot of money. You might want to take a chance that they have the space, but obviously if they don't then you need to start all over again.

Most cms offer a settling in period after contracts have been signed. I offer 2 x 2 hour settling in sessions free of charge.

LisMcA Wed 13-Jul-11 20:02:54

Thanks! It appears all the CM's I've emailed are either on holiday or ignoring me!! One did get back to say she had no spaces. Ah well, I've got til the end of the year to sort it I think!!

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