What is a Childminder?

Anyone who cares for children who are not related to them for pay or gain for more than two hours a day must register with Ofsted as a childminder.

This is a person who is registered to look after one or more children, to whom they are not related, for reward. Childminders work with no more than two other childminders or assistants. Friends who care for each other’s children do not have to register if the care is without payment of money or for things like food and electricity.

Childminders care for:

  • children on domestic premises – this is in someone’s home; it is usually the childminder’s own home, but it can be someone else’s home; it is not usually the home of one of the children
  • at least one individual child for a total of more than two hours in any day; this is not necessarily a continuous period of time.

Childminders must be registered with Ofsted in order to look after children under the age of 8 years old.

Childminders, and all other early years settings comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage to provide activities and experiences that will help your child's all round development. This parents guide will help you find out more about your child's development in relation to the Early Years Foundation Stage.


  • Childminders can be registered for up to 6 children under the age of 8 years old. This will include the childminder's own children.
  • Of these 6, only three can be under the age of 5 years and only one of these can be under 1 year.
  • If a childminder is caring for older children over the age of 8 years old, Ofsted will take account of this, but these numbers will not be included on their certificate.
  • The childminder will, however, need to work within the limits of her/his Public Liability insurance.

Legal Requirements

All childminders are required by law to:

  • comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage and/or the Requirements for the Childcare Register. If your child is under 5 then the requirements set out in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage will apply. Read more in the Parents' Guide
  • hold an up to date paediatric first aid certificate
  • be DBS checked. Find out more information
  • attend an introductory childcare course
  • have appropriate insurance cover, including Public Liability Insurance.
  • help safeguard children by making a referral to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) if there are concerns a child is at risk of harm. Read more in the Parents guide to MASH

Ofsted are responsible for registering and inspecting childminders. Details and outcomes of these inspections are published on the Ofsted website.

Ofsted have produced an information document for parents about their role in regulating childcare, including childminders. Read this document here.

Why Choose a Childminder?

Registered childminders work from their own homes, so minded children benefit from being in a family environment. Childminders only look after a few children at a time so they can give each child lots of attention, meeting their individual needs. This is particularly important for babies, very young children and those with additional needs. Childminders can also care for older children so siblings can be cared for together in a real family environment.

  • Children can enjoy real-life learning experiences in the childminder's own home like cooking, messy play, gardening, mealtimes as well as outings to the park, library and group activities.
  • Childminders are self-employed and can be more flexible: many start before 8am and work until after 6pm - a great help if you work shifts or irregular hours.
  • Some childminders provide overnight care and work at weekends.
  • Most childminders will pick up and collect children from school, pre-school or nursery.
  • Childminders are regularly inspected by Ofsted and are expected to provide high quality childcare . They receive the same core training as other childcare professionals
  • Childminders work in partnership with parents and many become lifelong friends.

Find a Childminder

This site has been designed to allow all childminders in Northamptonshire to advertise their services to any parents looking for childminders in their area.

All childminders listed on this site are Ofsted registered.

Each childminder listed is fully responsible for keeping their profile information up to date. NCA is not responsible for updating information.

To find a childminder you can input your postcode or the school/pre-schoo/playgroup/nursery that you need your child to be collected from. You will then be able to see childminders advertising on our website who may meet your individual needs.

Choosing the right childminder for you

It is really important that you and your child are happy with the childminder that you choose. We therefore recommend that you:

  • check that the childminder is registered with Ofsted. You can check this by asking to see their Ofsted registration certificate.
  • visit a childminder at their home before entering into any agreement with them. If possible, try to visit 2 or 3 different childminding settings.
  • ask to see the childminder’s Public Liability Insurance, First Aid and other training certificates. Never be afraid to ask to see these important documents.
  • ask to see the childminder's parent’s prospectus, telling you about the service they provide.

What you should ask

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. For example you will want to know:

  • What toys/activities are readily available?
  • Will the childminder take your child out and about to the park or to groups?
  • Are snacks or meals provided?
  • Can the childminder offer childcare at the times to suit you?
  • What fees does the childminder charge? Are these inclusive of meals/snacks?
  • Will you be expected to pay the childminder for the place if your child is ill or on holiday?
  • What arrangements could be made if the childminder is ill or takes a holiday?

Many of these things will be included in a written contract between you and the childminder. It is extremely important that you both sign a written contract, even if your childminder is a friend, or comes highly recommended.

The contract should include details of:

  • Hours that your child will be cared for
  • What you will pay
  • Additional costs for meals or activities
  • Holiday arrangements
  • Emergency cover
  • Any individual requirements for your child

You and the childminder should both sign the contract and you should both keep a copy so that you can refer to it if necessary

Paying for Childcare

Childminders run their own business and set their own fees for their childminding service.

Some childminders will charge an inclusive fee and others charge a basic fee and charge extra for food, outings etc. Some childminders charge an hourly rate only and some charge a daily or weekly rate which slightly reduces the hourly rate. Remember to ask what your childminder's fees include or exclude.

For a general idea of current childminding fees in Northamptonshire, please refer to our Rates of Pay Guidance for Childminders

Help with Paying for Childcare

Funded Childcare Places for 3 & 4 year olds (Free Entitlement)

All children are entitled to a free place from the funding block following their 3rd birthday for 570 hours a year, spread across 3 funding blocks for a maximum of 15 hours a week. Childminders may offer term time only or all year through and it is possible to divide your entitlement between two providers. for more information and to calculate when your child can start please visit the Northamptonshire County Council website. You will need to check with the childminder of your choice if s/he is eligible and registered to provide this service for your child.

Some 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for extra funding which is paid directly to your childminder, but has to be spent specifically on your child. This can be on toys and resources, outings or training for the childminder if this will help the childminder cater for your child's individual needs. The County Council website has details of this and an online eligibility checker which will tell you if your child is eligible. If eligible, you will be given a reference number that you need to pass on to your childminder so she/he can claim the funding.

Free Childcare and Education for 2 year olds (formerly Funded Early Learning)

Some 2 year olds are able to access their place from the term following their second birthday. This is means tested so you will need to check your eligibility. For more information and to use the online eligibility checker please visit the Northamptonshire County Council website. You will need to check with the childminder of your choice if she/he is eligible and registered to provide this service for your child.

Financial help may be available for parents to help pay for childcare. In order to claim the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit, Care to Learn funding or Employer Childcare Vouchers, the childcare you have chosen for your child has to be Registered with Ofsted.

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit

This benefit is means tested and so any funds that you are eligible for are based on your income.Please ring 0345 300 3900 for more information. Lines are open 8am to 8pm Monday - Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturday, Closed Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing day and New Years Day or visit the Revenue and Customs website.

If you are eligible for the childcare element of Working Tax Credit and you take up a funded place for your 2, 3 or 4 year old, you must notify HMRC as soon as possible if taking up a free place reduces the cost of your childcare by £10 or more a week. You do not need to notify HMRC if your cost does not change, for example if you use the free childcare to increase the number of hours your child attends.

You will always be better off taking up a free place as tax credits only contribute to a part of the full cost of childcare and not all of it.

Employer Childcare Vouchers

Many employers offer their employees the opportunity to receive childcare vouchers as part of their salary.

  • This scheme gives parents the option of having part of their salary paid in vouchers rather than cash. The employee will not pay Tax or National Insurance on this amount.
  • The childminder then redeems the vouchers as part payment for childminding services.
  • Any salary that is paid in childcare vouchers cannot be used to apply for the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit so you may need to consider carefully whether childcare vouchers are beneficial to you.
  • To find out more contact Northamptonshire County Council by email and ask for information.
  • To claim childcare vouchers as part of your salary, contact your employer.
  • If you are an employer looking to offer assistance with childcare costs, HMRC have a factsheet available

Tax Free Childcare

From Autumn 2015, the Governments new Tax Free Childcare Scheme will be implemented. Parents will no longer be able to apply for Employer Childcare Vouchers, but will be able to continue to use them if they are already registered OR swap to the new Tax Free Childcare Scheme. These 2 forms of tax free help are not the same and some parents will be better off with Childcare Vouchers than with the new scheme. This parent booklet explains the changes. It is written by one of the Childcare Voucher companies, but there are many others out there too.

Care to Learn

If you are a parent under 20 years of age and wish to attend training, there is financial help available to pay the cost of your childcare from the Government under the Care to Learn Scheme.
For more information please ring the Care to Learn helpline on 0800 121 8989 or speak to your local Connexions Personal Advisor.

For more information about possible help to pay for childcare while you attend training please see www.direct.gov.uk

For Parents with Disabled Children


If you are a parent of a child with disabilities and are looking for a childminder with the skills and expertise to care for your child, please contact us and we will do everything that we can to help you find a childminder who will be able to help you.

If you have a child with a disability, it can often be very hard to find anyone who is willing and able to babysit. The Specialist Sitters Service is an initiative run by NCA in partnership with the Disabled Services Team at Northamptonshire County Council. Please note that due to Government funding cuts, the funding for the Specialist Sitters Service is being withdrawn on March 31st 2016. We hope that our Specialist Sitters will still offer this service from April as private arrangements with families. Please revisit this page nearer to April to see hints and tips of how to choose a Specialist Sitter.

The service is designed to offer occasional evening babysitting and unfortunately is not funded to provide regular respite care.

Specialist Sitters are qualified, experienced Ofsted registered childminders who offer an evening service on weekdays and weekends. View the Specialist Services leaflet here.

How much will it cost?

You will only need to pay the childminder £5.00 an hour for the time you use. The remaining fee is paid for by the Sitters Service.

How do I register for the Sitters Service?

There are 3 forms that you need to complete in order to register to use the service. When you register with NCA you are asked to complete a 'My Profile' about your child and an agreement form in order to use the service. These forms can be returned by email or post using the contact details on the form. Please put Specialist Sitters in the subject line of the email.

How does the service work?

  • When you need to use the service, contact NCA with dates and times and they will email all the Specialist Sitters asking who is available.
  • You will then be contacted with details of all who have said they are available. Sitters prepare a profile about themselves and these are sent to parents by email to help choose the right sitter for them.
  • You then make arrangements with your chosen sitter and let NCA know who you have chosen, so that NCA can email your child's profile and other details to them.
  • NCA cannot guarantee to find a Specialist Sitter for every request as it depends on the availability of Sitters for the dates and times requested, but please do try to give as much notice as possible.

How can I be confident that my child will be well looked after?

Specialist Sitters all have Good or Outstanding Ofsted Grades. In addition, many have passed NCA's quality assurance process. They all hold a current First Aid certificate and have a Level 3 qualification in childcare or experience of caring for children with additional needs. They also have access to relevant training/workshops.

Can I request the same Sitter to offer continuity of care for my child?

Yes. Many parents do request a Sitter they have used before and some parents request initially that they have the same Sitter if their child's needs mean that they require this consistency.

When I have chosen a Specialist Sitter can we meet her beforehand?

The Sitters Service will pay £5.00 for the Sitter to either visit with you beforehand or to arrive earlier on the night. If the needs of your child mean that a longer settling in process is required, then longer sessions can be arranged at the normal sitting rates.

Once a relationship is established, can parents contact the childminder directly with dates and times?

Parents will need to contact NCA each time they wish to use the service as funding is limited and each occasion has to be approved beforehand. However, you can contact the childminder to provisionally ask if he or she is available for the dates and times you need and then contact NCA with this information to see if the funding can support your request.

What times does the service start/finish?

Times are negotiable between the parents and the Specialist Sitters and rely on availability only rather than set times. The Sitters all are working Registered Childminders and so are not normally available before 6 or 7pm.

Is there a limit on the number of times that parents can use the service?

There is no set limit on the number of times or hours parents use the service for. It is determined by the level of funding available. However, the service is designed as an occasional service and is not funded for regular respite care.

If my disabled child is in respite, can I use the service for my non-disabled children?

Unfortunately the funding is only available if your disabled child is there but of course you may make a private arrangement with the childminder for this.

Contact NCA on 0845 838 3724 or email us if you have any further questions or when you need to use the service.

Other Support

Information about all services to support disabled children and their families in Northamptonshire can be found on the County Council Website

Brainwave works with families to deliver individual home based therapy and exercise programmes that help children with disabilities and Developmental Delay to achieve their potential.

SEND Direct is a new website for parents and professionals and was developed by nine disability charities. The website holds lots of information including:

  • The law and your rights
  • Helpful questions to ask before you buy a service
  • Assessment of need and what this means for your child
  • Guidance on how to choose a service that's best for your child