As per the Childcare Act, 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations, 2016 (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations,2018: the definition of a “Childminder” means a person who provides a childminding service (in their own home).
“Childminding service” means a pre-school service, which may include an overnight pre-school service, offered by a person who single-handedly takes care of pre-school children, which may include the person’s own children, in the person’s home for a total of more than 2 hours per day, except where the exemptions provided in section 58L of the Act apply OR “Childminding service” means a school age service, which may include an overnight school age service, offered by a person who single-handedly takes care of school age children, which may include the person’s own children, in the person’s home for a total of more than 2 hours per day, except where the exemptions provided in section 58L of the Act (as amended) apply.
Becoming a Childminder can be a great career path option for someone who enjoys working with, caring for and nurturing children and providing a home-from-home environment.
Setting up your own Childminding Service
- Hours of Operation: Decide how you want to run your Childminding service, full-time or part-time? Will you operate at weekends, will you provide overnights (on occasion or on request)
- Where will you operate your service from? Have you the adequate space? have you a play-room/designated play area/safe, enclosed child-friendly outdoor area? Do you need a sleep area/room?
- How many children can you mind?/ How many do you want to mind? If you are minding four or more pre-school aged children, then you must register with TUSLA. If you need more information on how many children you can mind as a registered or unregistered Childminder, please see Childminding Ireland’s website here.
- Policies and Procedures: Childminders are required to have policies and procedures in place for quality assurance purposes. You can access some sample policies here.
- Tusla Registration information can be found here.
- Age Group: Do you want to cater for a specific age group? E.g. Babies only/ preschoolers only/school aged children?
- Prepare your home – Child proof the house and make sure you have enough toys and equipment and that it is all relative to each child’s age and stage. Is your house set up appropriately, are any adaptations required to make it more child-friendly? Can your house accommodate children who have additional needs?
- Drop offs/Collections: Have you the appropriate size vehicle to cater for your service? Even if you decide not to facilitate drop/offs or collections, what will happen in case of an emergency?
- Routine: What routine do you expect you will offer children? Do you plan to offer children who attend your service snacks and meals? (Always be cognisant of food allergens and consult parents/guardians around any dietary requirements)
- Rates: What will your rates be? Do they reflect the level of service that you offer? Are they fair for parents/guardians? Are they in line with the area that you live in? Will you charge per hour or per day, will you give option of full day and half day flat rates?
- Bank Holidays: Will you work Bank Holidays? Will you charge extra for them?
- Overnights: Will you facilitate overnights occasionally/where required? How much will you charge?
- Annual Leave: Will you charge for you taking annual leave/ will you charge for parents taking annual leave? How much notice do you expect for annual leave?
- Illnesses: What will you do if you are sick/the child is sick? Will you cater for minor illnesses?
- Home and Motor Insurance: All Childminders should ensure that the childminding service is adequately insured, evidenced by a current certificate of insurance. Childminders who are registered with Tusla are obliged to adhere to the requirements as outlined in the Quality and Regulatory Framework. For Childminders working from their own home, Childminding Insurance is important for their own protection. Many home insurance policies cover childminding for up to 2 children, which may be extended to mind up to 6 children. For specific childminding insurance, there are policies, such as that offered by Childminding Ireland, which are tailored packages for minding up to 6 children.
Childminding Ireland offer Insurance Packages:
As insured members, Childminders have access to the full range of services:– including free advertising space on the www.childminding.ie .
The insurance is comprehensive and provides:
- Public Liability covering insurable accidents
- All risks cover on equipment relating to Childminding, with low €125 excess
- Outings, including swimming with increased ratio of 1 adult to 5 Children
- Loss of Income if your service closes due to certified illness
- Employer Liability, to include helpers or substitutes
- Legal advice and counselling helpline
All Childminders should check with their car insurer to clarify if they are covered to carry minded children. As Childminders are paid to mind these children, the car insurance company may ask Childminders to get Class 2 insurance to cover the use of their car for business purposes. Suitable child car seats are essential if Childminders are transporting children as part of their working day, all Childminders have a duty of care to ensure the safety of children. See the Road Safety Authority (RSA) advice in relation to child car seats here.
- Additional Costs: Have you considered the additional costs associated with running a Childminding service e.g. fuel, electricity/gas, water, food/snacks
- Develop a record-keeping system: All businesses are required to maintain adequate records and childminding services are no different. Not only are Childminders required to maintain accounting records for their business, but it is recommended that all childminding services maintain certain types of childcare specific records. Records offer Childminders guidance and inform parents of best practice, regulations and protect the children in the Childminders care. Records show that Childminders are working in a professional manner, are organised and care about the work they do. Setting up an appropriate record keeping system will make Childminders work easier. For further information, please request a copy of Childminding Sample Record Keeping Forms which are available from your local CCC.
- Fire Safety: It is important and considered best practice that all Childminders have Fire Safety policies and procedures in place. This includes an emergency evacuation plan, relevant fire equipment and a fire drill should be carried out monthly with drills being recorded and documented as recommended in Fire Safety in Preschools (1999).
- Planning Permission: Childminders who are not obliged to register with Tusla are not required to have a childcare qualification, however all Childminders are encouraged to continue their professional development and participate in relevant childcare training as a measure of best practice.
Childcare Services Tax Relief:
Registering as tax compliant as a Childminder can have huge benefits as you can continue to build up your stamps which is paramount if you want to avail of various social welfare benefits such as maternity leave, illness benefit and a pension later down the line. Did you know as a Childminder you may be eligible for tax exemption depending on your annual earnings? Please refer to Revenue site for the most up to date information here.
Childminding Development Grants (CMDG)
The CMDG offers an incentive, in the form of a small capital grant to Childminders to enhance and support their awareness of quality childcare. The CMDG is designed to assist Childminders, already providing a childminding service in their own homes, to enhance safety/quality in the service through the purchase of small capital items, equipment, toys, or minor adaptation costs. It may also give financial assistance to new or prospective Childminders with their initial set up costs. All applicants must be committed to maintaining/improving the quality of their childminding service.
Please see these documents for further information:
Establish a Working Agreement
It is important to consider developing working agreements with each parent(s)/guardian(s) of each child in your childminding service.
- Days and Hours of Childminding; this needs to be specified for each child/family.
- Payment for Childminding – date due, in advance, weekly or monthly, method of payment
- Payment for absences / holiday arrangements
- Care required: Who provides which meals (parent/childminder)? Who provides equipment?
- Notice period or arrangement if the either party intends to terminate the agreement.
Also recommend: Child details form can be part of working agreement
- Child’s Date of Birth
- Parent(s)/Guardian(s) names and telephone numbers and work addresses
- Emergency contact details of at least 2 nominated people other than parents
- Medical History and GP details
- Dietary Requirements, Allergies, Medical/Additional Needs & Routine
Experience, Qualifications and Quality Reassurance
Childminders who are not obliged to register with Tusla are not required to have a childcare qualification, however all Childminders are encouraged to continue their professional development and participate in relevant childcare training as a measure of best practice. Childminders who register with Tusla as a pre-school service are required to hold at least a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework prior to registration. This includes the care of a mix of preschool and school age children. There is currently no qualification requirement for Childminders registered with Tusla as a School Age Childcare service. This includes the care of a mix of preschool and school age children.
- Skills & Attributes: Do you feel you have the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to run a Childminding service?
- First Aid is an essential course to undertake if you want to become a childminder, there are training courses facilitated by an external trainers in Cork City Childcare’s training room throughout the year, please phone if you would like to secure a date
- Do you need to register with Tusla OR have you notified your local Childcare Committee? All depends on the number of children you mind and their ages.
- Garda Vetting: Parents expect the person entrusted with their child to be vetted and evidence of same. Garda Vetting for Childminding is a mandatory requirement for registration with Tusla. Further information on Garda Vetting can be sourced here.
- Additional Training: As a childminder you may require to undertake some further training to enhance the quality of your service:
Child Welfare and Safety
Children First Programme
Tusla has worked with the DCEDIY and HSE to develop a universal e-learning training programme called ‘Introduction to Children First’. The programme is based on Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and the Children First Act 2015. The programme takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete but it can be done in a number of sittings. To adhere to best practice in relation to Child Protection & Welfare, all Childminders should complete the E-learning programme.
Always Children First Training – Foundation Level
Always Children First training aims to create an awareness of Child Protection and Welfare issues in the Early Years sector. The aim of the training is to help Childminders understand how to safeguard children and report Child Protection and Welfare concerns. This training may be accessed through your local City/County Childcare Committee. A prerequisite of attending this training is that Childminders have completed the Tusla Children First E-Learning Programme (CMDO Team, 2020).
More information on Child Protection and Welfare can be sourced here.
Learner Fund Bursary (Registered Childminders)
The Learner Fund Bursary for Childminders provides subsidy funding to support Childminders who hold a Level 5 or a Level 6 award on the National Framework of Qualifications. The qualification must be on the DCEDIY Early Years recognised Qualification list. The Learner Fund Graduate Bursary provides subsidy funding for Early Learning and Care practitioners (which includes Childminders) who hold awards at Level 7, 8 and 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications. The qualification must be on the DCEDIY Early Years recognised Qualification list. Childminders who are registered with Tusla as a School-Age Childcare service only are not eligible for the Learner Fund Graduate Bursary.
Advertising your Childminding Service
Some sample ideas for advertising your Childminding Service are:
- via Childminding Ireland website
- word of mouth,
- attending local parent toddler groups,
- distribute leaflets at local shops/supermarkets
- Social Media Platforms: e.g. set up your own Facebook Page, it’s simple and FREE
- If you Voluntary Notify with Cork City Childcare you can be placed on their childminding database
Tips: Be sure to highlight if you are garda vetted/insurance/registered with Tusla/qualifications/experience/modes of transport/references
Exercise caution at all times when providing your personal contact information: provide your name and area and times and days of availability- it is not recommended that you supply full addresses or mobile numbers. Consider creating a new email especially for your childminding service.
Here is a Step by Step Guide for The Voluntary Notification Process.
Here is a guide to assist in registering with Tusla: Tusla Registration Information.
Help for registration with Tusla can also be accessed via Childminding Ireland’s website here.
Government Funding Schemes:
As a Tusla registered Childminder you will be permitted to offer various government Childcare funding schemes to families. For instance, the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) is a Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth funded scheme which provides financial support towards the cost of childcare to eligible families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered Childminder and School Age Childcare services.
Agencies to support you along your Childminding Journey
- Michelle Lynch is a Development Worker here at Cork City Childcare who supports Childminders in the Cork city region. Her telephone number is 021 4310500 and her email address is email@example.com
- Childminding Ireland has plentiful information and resources specifically for Childminders at hand to access on their site here. Their phone number is (01) 287 8466 and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Barnardos Ireland
- The National Childhood Network
- Early Childhood Ireland
- Nicolas Montessori Society
- The National Parents Council
- First 5