What is a childminder agency, and why should I use one?

A shortage of skilled early years educators across the childcare sector means there’s never been a better time to become a self-employed childminder.

Recent figures from educational charity the Early Years Alliance found that 84% of early years settings – including nurseries, pre-schools and childminding businesses – are currently finding it challenging to recruit staff.

Around half have had to either stop taking on new children or limit the number of children they work with, while one in six are concerned that staff shortages may see them having to close their settings permanently over the next 12 months.

Separate statistics, from Ofsted found that the number of registered childminders in the UK had dropped from 36,600 in August 2020 to 34,800 in March 2021. Since August 2015, the number of registered childminders has declined by 27%.

The real-life impacts of this recruitment crisis are reverberating across the sector.

The shortage of skills staff means that some childcare providers, such as day nurseries and other settings, are being forced to reduce their opening days, while others are closing completely.

The result is fewer childcare places, which is driving increased demand for high quality childcare, particularly in some of the worst-affected parts of the UK.

The stark figures show that now, more than ever, families across the country are crying out for high-quality, trustworthy and reliable childcare, which makes becoming a self-employed childminder early educator a viable career opportunity for anyone with a passion for helping children.

Here, we look at how you can start a home-based childcare business with an Ofsted childminder agency like @Home Childcare.   

What is an Ofsted childminder agency?

High-quality childcare provision – especially for early years children – is a key Government priority. It wants to increase the number of childcare places available for parents to help give all children the best possible start in life.

Home-based childcare, delivered by skilled and professional childminder educators, is a service parents value, as it gives them more flexibility around their working arrangements, so they can create a better standard of living for their families.

The Department for Education introduced childminder agencies in  2014 to increase the number of childminder educators entering the childcare sector and improve professional standards. They have several statutory obligations to deliver, including: 

  • Vetting and assessing potential and existing childminders to ensure their suitability
  • Registering and inspecting home-based childminders, in accordance with Ofsted’s framework
  • Ensuring early years childminder educators have the capacity to deliver the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage requirements
  • Ensuring childminders provide good outcomes for children
  • Supporting the ongoing training and development of childminders, to improve standards
  • Helping families find and access suitable childcare
  • Improving the quality of childcare provision
  • Monitoring the standard of care provided by their registered childminders

As well as their obligations around childminder educators’ registration, quality assurance and Continuous Professional Development, childminder agencies can also offer a host of other services to the childminders they work with, including business support and mentoring, marketing and advertising support, and help in securing funding and other forms of Government support.

How can a childminder agency help me start my own childcare business?

Childminders are self-employed professionals who offer quality home-based childcare and early education. They usually look after small groups of children of all ages, from a wide variety of families and socio-economic backgrounds.

While you don’t need any prior experience to become a childminder, if you are passionate about helping children develop, thrive, and reach their full potential, it could be a career for you.

That’s why many former teachers and other education specialists often make the switch to becoming a childminder educator at some point during their working lives.

However, if you’re interested in becoming a childminder educator, then a childminder agency can help you acquire the skills and qualifications you need to start your journey, get registered and get your home-based childcare business up and running.

As well as the initial start-up training and support, some childminder agencies can provide your new childcare business with ongoing ‘back-office’ support to help you:

  • Find families to use your service
  • Enrol parents/children
  • Manage invoicing and collect fees
  • Deal with parents who don’t pay
  • Administer early education funding

The best thing about registering your childcare business with a childminder agency is that you still get to be your own boss. You remain in charge of the business, with complete control over the hours you work, the children you work with, the activities you provide and the structure you create.

A childminder agency is there to provide ongoing training, personal development and business support to help you continue to raise standards and offer a high quality, professional service. 

How to find the right childminder agency for your needs

Childminder agencies have a statutory duty to provide support and regulation, guided by Ofsted, to enable childminder educators to deliver the best possible service.

This is done through ongoing training and annual inspections to ensure all childminders meet the latest professional and quality assurance standards.

If you’re interested in becoming a childminder educator and registering your business with a childminder agency, you should look for one that shares your passion for helping children thrive, as well as your personal values and outlook.

However, the main advantage of working with a childminder agency is the ongoing support they provide.

Working with a childminder agency like @Home Childcare can empower you to create and run a profitable, sustainable business providing quality care and early education.

It also means you’ll get all the training and development you need to deliver the best outcomes for the children you work for. What’s not to love?

If you’re interested in becoming a childminder early educator but aren’t sure where to start, we’d love to hear from you. 

Book onto our next FREE introductory webinar, where you can find out what it takes and get all the information you need to embark on this exciting and rewarding new career path.

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