Hi Scorpio - sorry, completely not able to help - but just wanted to let you know I'm also in Maidstone! How old is your little one (or ones)? My dd is 21 months and in nursery (at St Peter's Street). Hubby and I work full time - we own a DVD shop on Week Street. I went back to work when dd was 9 months and it's great having some of "my" time back but I miss her like crazy when I'm at work. You get used to it, and so do the little ones. The only reason we chose nursery over childminder is the extra social life she is having - loads of little friends, they do millions of activities together and she gets to go to a lot of Birthday parties which is always a good fun as we get to meet lots of new friends too. Anyway, good luck with your childminder hunt, I hope someone will be able to recommend one to you.
I am a childminder but sorry I am in Lincolnshire. You can find childminders on www.childcarelink.go.uk for everywhere in the uk.
I look after an 16 month old and a 2 year old and they both hide when it's time to be picked up cos they do not want to go home.
I have found that it is much harder for mum than it is for the kids when it comes to returning to work, so make sure you find a childminder who is approachable and you feel comfortable with and that they either fill you in verbally or with a daily diary (especially good for babies) then you know what they have been up to at the childlminders and you feel part of it and can then continue themes or projects at home and you can also fill in a daily diary to let your childminer know whats been happening at home too.
Good luck and check out a few of them and I think that you instantly click when you find the right one.
Best thing I feel to do would be to call Kent Children's Information Service on 08000 323230. Ask them about Childminders who have vacancies in your area AND the area near where you will be working - that way you get more choice. Make sure they know the age(s) of your child/children, as childminders have restictions on how many children of particular ages they can care for and while they may have a spare place, it may not be for your child's age.
Quite agree Feelingold, when meeting any childcare provider, you instantly click when you find the right one. Either that, or the children instantly click!