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Finding a childminder, when and what to ask?

(17 Posts)
Eddas Mon 15-Sep-08 12:46:12

Hi there, I need to find a childminder for my son starting in January(he'll be 20 months). I'm unlikely to find a childminder that will say a definate yes now without a retainer aren't I? When would they take me on without the retainer? I don't really have funds laying around to give, but I do understand why a childminder would need me to pay.

I have begun my search regardless of the retainer situation. I am meeting with someone on wednesday, but having never tried to find a childminder before I'm unsure what questions I should be asking. I don't want to come out of there wishing I'd asked x, although i know I could ring back. Does anyone have any tips on what I should ask/look out for? I know gut instinct will count for a lot.


AbbaFan Mon 15-Sep-08 13:12:23

I would ask:

What she does with the children at home
Where they go when out
What kind of food she offers
To see her Ofsted report

You probably will have to pay a retainer. Unless you are lucky enough to find someone that has a child leaving in December.

spicemonster Mon 15-Sep-08 13:15:13

Do a search for the list that alibubbles wrote - it was what I based my questions on and I now have a brilliant CM Obviously gut counts for a lot but it's useful to have a list so that you can think about the things that are important to you

Pipsical Mon 15-Sep-08 13:40:41


Where are you based?

Childminders do normally ask for a retainer however it is at the discretion of the childminder how much and how many weeks.

I am a childminder in scarborough and know that I will have a place at that time..therefor I would ask you to sign contracts to determin you would be taking the place and would probably ask for you to pop the child in with me 1 day a week until full commencment of contract..this ensures the child is settled when it is time to go full time, it gives you an oppourtunity to get settled also..leaving a child is not only a big step for the child but also for the parent.

If I was made aware of a persons circumstance at the parent/minder interview I would certanly review and try my best to find a solution.

Thanks Pippa grin

TheConfusedOne Mon 15-Sep-08 13:54:46

Alibubbles list.

How long have you been working with children?

What training have you had? Any qualifications? Are you part of a network, achieved a quality assurance qualification, look at registration certificate, insurance details, business use for car. First aid must be no more than 3 years old, food hygiene certificate, Certificate in Childminding practice or NVQ 3, Contracts and record forms

Do you enjoy being with children and why?

Can I look around, see the rooms and outside play space? If there is no outside play space - how will you make sure my child gets the chance to play outside?

Where will my child rest?

What kind of food and drink will you give? Can I see a menu?

What will my child do all 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 hours is she open?

How much does she charge?

What about when my child is sick, holidays, days off

What do you do in an emergency?

When was her last Ofsted, can you see the report?

Top 10 Quality Pointers

When you visit possible childcare options, look for these Quality Pointers:

Are the children calm, safe, happy and busy?

Do children play and talk together?

Is the childminder listening to the children and answering them carefully?

Is the childminder friendly and proud of her work?

Is she joining in joining in with what the children are doing?

Are there lots of fun activities planned to help children learn and play? Can children plan some of these activities themselves?

Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use?

Is the premises clean, well kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area (or will the child go to parks and other places regularly)?

Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children?

If there are other things you want to know, don't be afraid to ask. Good childminders expect you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them.

Always take up references. You could ask for names of other parents to talk to about the service

Listen to your child and find out more if he/she is unhappy
Always trust your own feelings about your childcare - you know your child best

Eddas Mon 15-Sep-08 14:01:35

thanks for all the suggestions.

I'm in Maidstone (Kent)

I only need a parttime place(3 days, not all day but i'm aware I may have to pay all day anyway)

I wouldn't be able to afford to pay one day a week now until then. Be lovely if I could, then I could have time for me, although dd would still be here, lol!

Childcare is a nightmare

Scarfmaker Mon 15-Sep-08 14:02:42

I never charge a retainer and definitely wouldn't for three months. That's just me!

Pipsical Mon 15-Sep-08 14:06:13

Aw well good luck in your search...Its a nightmare up this way..there doesn't appear to be enough children!

Thanks hmm

Eddas Mon 15-Sep-08 14:25:38

the lady i'm meeting on wed, would charge half a months fee as a retainer. thing is, I need 3 days, she has mon,wed and fr free atm, but her child begins school in Oct so will have those days plus everyday free IYSWIM. So how likely is it she'll get booked for both slots? I'm not fussed which days i can have. I suppose it's a 'how long's a piece of string' question. I could just wing it and see if she's still free in Jan nearer the time. I'll need to ask when she'd say yes to having ds without a retainerhmm Mind you I might not like hergrin

I think I worry too much <<sigh>>hard not too when children are invloved and you have to work, and the current work arrangement is making you stressed. I need to see an end to the way things aresad

Pipsical Mon 15-Sep-08 14:37:26

I know its such a big desicion...I don't know what to advise you on this one.
It depends on the call of CM'S in your I said up here its incredibly quiet..I have 3 places to fill and I know its highly unlikely they will all go.
But each area is different..If you are unsure with the minder when you see her then I suppose winging it could be an option but if you really like her then the only thing you can do is to do the retainer then you know for sure you have the space...I know its not the best advise!

Eddas Mon 15-Sep-08 15:30:48

thanks pipsical, there's not much more advice you could offer, I don't think, it all depends on so many factors.

One thing in my favour is that I only need care for one child(i did look briefly before for 2 under 5's, which was pretty impossible) and that I am totally flexible with which days I have. Basically i'm not fussed and work don't care either as long as I do my hours(they're very good to me)

I think i'll just be honest and say I can't afford the retainer. Maybe she'd agree to take ds on, but if she finds another mindee before a certain date then I either pay the retainer or lose the place? I don't know, i'm sure it can be worked out. When she mentioned a retainer she did say that since it's so far ahead(mentioned 6 monthshmm) blah blah, but it's not it's 3 months, if that, and her 2nd free space doesn't start til October anyway.

We'll see.

There are other people I need to contact anyway.

My head's just buzzing with questions that have no answers, lol. The control freak in me can't take it!

Eddas Mon 15-Sep-08 16:12:56

i've just spoken to another childminder, she sounded lovelysmile She is new to childminding, so what else should I ask her? There must be different questions for new ones, lol!

elkiedee Tue 16-Sep-08 00:49:06

Of the two CMs I met (I know it sounds a bit lazy but I really really liked the first, actually the 2nd was pleasant but... and it's worked out well), I chose the CM who was newly registered. Can't remember exactly the questions or how I found out, but I learned that she had kids of her own (5) and that at the time she had two other mindees - aged 7 and 3.5 - she now has their younger brother as well, who's a few months older than ds, probably 2 maybe even 2.5.

One of the things that impressed me was that she sent out a written document outlining some policies (I'd emailed as she had an email address) and although it read like a piece of coursework and probably was, it answered a lot of questions I'd have been trying to pluck up the courage to ask, like discipline and restraint (what's needed, no smacking, and keeping a child safe but doing it nicely, and I've seen her with him and other kids and it goes with what she says), she takes them out etc.

I asked about holidays and sickness etc.

She's already agreed to take dc2 in over a year's time (he's not due until end of Jan and I'm asking about October/November!) and ds and she seem to really like each other.

Eddas Tue 16-Sep-08 08:43:49

thanks elkiedee.

I think i'm just gonna go and see the lady tomorrow and see how i feel, but she wants a retainer so i'll just be honest and say i can't afford it. I don't expect her to keep the place so if I like her best then i'll just have to take a chance and see if she is still free nearer he time.

I really like the sound of the 2nd and newly registered lady though. She semed really nice. ok i am basing this on a 5 min conversation but stillgrin I also liked the fact that she is in my village(this is quite rare as it's smal) and has 2 children but they are 10 and 15. I don't want to get too exicted but she did seem nice.

I think the good thing is I can go and visit a few childminders before the newly registered one and then I have something to compare to. I just have to find some more to visit.

The search continues..........

JenniPenni Mon 22-Sep-08 00:56:39

Whatever you do do, go with your gut feel. Most of my parents told me they visited me and decided on the spot they wanted me to mind their kids (huge compliment!). You can gauge a lot about someone on the phone too.

I know money is a huge factor, but rather pay a little extra, or that small retainer, and get the RIGHT minder for your child

Good luck with your hunt!

dianafoliveira Wed 24-Sep-08 12:19:21


I'm a 26 years old portuguese girl with a degree (5 years course) in Pedagogy. I absolutly love children and I know how to explore their skills! I'm very outgoing, friendly and organized! During university I've studied special needs like autism
I'm going to live in London in 2nd December. If you need me or if you know someone who needs please let me know. My mother is a children doctor in Portugal and I've worked with children in Portugal too so I can give you some people who can recomend me.
I'm avaiable for a personal interview because I think that's the best way for us to know each other.
But I think we can find other ways, I would love to help your family!
You can contact me to

With my best regards,

Diana Oliveira

mumnosbest Wed 24-Sep-08 18:37:44

I'm a 'NEW ONE' childminder that is, in Doncaster
Here's a list of questions/info we should be prepared to tell you on first visit:

Where children spend the day.
What equipment you have.
How many other children are cared for and ages.
Food provision, example menus.
Behaviour approaches and beliefs.
Experience and training, see certificates or reccomendations).
Who else lives in or visits the house.
Any pets and children's access to them.
What safety equipment they have, inc car seats.
Check car and public liability insurance (must have).
Do they have an emergency plan? (again should have)
When they are available.
Fees, retainers and holidays.
Check Ofsted registration and first aid (both legal requirements)
smoking policies,

hope this is of some use and anyone in the Doncaster area, I have vacancies and am a qualified primary and SEN teacherand mum of 2 under 5's

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