A childminder is a self-employed person who looks after a small group of children in their own home.

Childminders must be inspected and registered by Ofsted for any number of children up to 8 years old. All adults (people aged 16 years or more) living and working in their homes will be police checked.

Childminders are not required to be registered to care for children older than 8 years but can become part of Ofsted's Childcare Register (OCR) voluntarily. The OCR helps parents to claim help with their childcare costs through the childcare element of the working tax credit if they qualify for it.

Cost

All 3 and 4 year-olds, and some 2 year-olds, in Medway are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education for 38 weeks of the year. This includes being placed with an accredited childminder.

Hours

Childminders decide on their own working hours. Most are willing to work early mornings, evenings and weekends, as well as part-time. Some childminders are registered for overnight care.

All registered childminders are required to undertake a basic training course, including first aid and most go on to do further training and professional development.

Age range and number of children

Registered childminders are allowed to care for up to 6 children less than 8 years old, including their own. Only 3 of them can be less than 5 years old. Only 1 may be younger than 1 year old, unless the childminder has made a special application to Ofsted to be registered to care for twins.