SERVICES TO PARENTS
Help is at hand from the NICMA - the Childminding Association who have over 30 years experience of providing information and advice on all aspects of quality childminding services.
WHY CHOOSE CHILDMINDING FOR YOUR CHILD? There are many benefits to choosing childminding as your preferred daycare option.
- Individual Needs Met - Children benefit from the individual attention they receive in a childminders home and the interaction with other children of all ages. Babies, particularly, benefit from the individual, family type care provided by childminders. Childminders and children have access to small and large group activities via Drop In centres, Childminding groups, outings and High/Scope programmes.
- Low adult – child ratio – childminders are registered to care for up to 3 children of pre-school age and 3 children of school age. This low adult – child ratio allows for children’s individual needs to be met.
- Flexibility – Children can be cared for on a part or full time basis from the age of a few months, throughout their pre-school, nursery and school years. Childminding can be provided during out-of-school and holiday periods. Parents varying shift patterns can be accommodated ensuring that there is consistency with the same carer.
- Quality - A stimulating environment within a home based setting, which meets children’s individual needs. Registration of childminding services is the starting point for quality provision with many childminders accessing NICMA’s Quality Assurance initiatives.
- Sharing - Families with one child can benefit from using the services of a childminder. Their child is cared for in an environment with children from a range of ages and backgrounds. It can provide an extended family experience for families with one child.
- Part of the community - Children are cared for in their own community, enabling them to build and develop their own local connections and providing opportunities for close links with community based services and with local schools.
- Partnership with Parents - Parents and children develop a trusting relationship with the Childminder ensuring that the care provided is appropriate and adaptable to their changing individual needs. Childminders can offer support to parents to enable them to balance work and family responsibilities.
- Real life learning – Children looked after by a childminder enjoy real life experiences like cooking, shopping, gardening, mealtimes etc. From these everyday activities the children can learn basic science, maths, social skills and language skills.
- Support and back up - Childminders can provide support to parents by offering homework supervision, back up and emergency care where required
- Equality of Opportunity – Childminding offers all children equality of access to opportunities to learn and develop, taking account of the child’s age and stage of development, gender, ethnicity, special educational needs and any disability. It also offers children with special needs or disabilities the opportunity to be cared for in an inclusive setting with children of differing abilities, ages and backgounds. The children are able to attend the same childcare setting as their siblings.
- Family friendly – Childminding offers parents the opportunity for all of their children to be cared for at the one setting regardless of age, stage and ability. Childminded children are not segregated because of age or stage. This encourages siblings to bond and so encourages family relationships to fully develop.
- Registered childcare - Childminders are an eligible form of childcare that enable parents to avail of the Childcare element of the Working Tax Credit
Quality Childminding Standards
The quality assurance of childminding provision for children under 12 years begins with registration and inspection to minimum standards as set out in the Children (NI) Order 1995 and associated Regulations and Guidance. Childminders are inspected annually by the Health and Social Services Trust.
Childminding Information and Vacancy Service
We offer a FREE information helpline to assist parents in choosing the most suitable Childminder and keeping that relationship going. Our CHILDMINDING INFORMATION AND VACANCY helpline on 028 9181 1015 is open Mon - Thu 9.30am - 4.00pm and Fri 9.30am - 1.00pm and offers information on all aspects of childminding including registration, fees, contracts etc. It will also provide you with access to childminding vacancies to meet your specific needs and will give detail on the individual childminders e.g. has the Childminder had any training? Will they be able to collect my child from school? Do they provide an after school service?
CHILDMINDING INFORMATION, ADVICE & VACANCY SERVICE
NICMA’s Childminding Information, Advice & Vacancy Service is a key element of the services provided for parents, childminders, employers and other stakeholders. We offer access to:
•A database of detailed Childminder vacancies to match to parents specific childcare needs;
•A telephone Information & Advice service to answer all queries related to childminding services;
•A ‘Childminding Business Pack’, updated annually, to assist childminders in offering a professional childcare service;
•A range of publications and resources to enhance childcare practice.
To use the service and access information of details of childminding vacancies please contact the Information Officer on 028 9181 1015.
CHILDMINDING CONTRACTS FOR PARENTS
•NICMA recommend that both childminder and parent read the Guidance Notes in the Membership Pack before completing contract forms
•Terms and conditions should be negotiated, agreed and considered before contracts are signed by either party
•Childminder and parent should have a copy of the agreed contract for their own reference
•The contract will clearly state to the parent, the childminding fees, agreed dates for payment, when and how to pay and exactly what the payment includes
•The contract will clearly state to the childminder the childminding fees to be paid, agreed dates for payment and exactly what the payment includes
•Should the terms and conditions of the contract change, then a new contract should be negotiated, considered, agreed and signed by both parties
•A contract signed by both parties is a legally binding document
•A signed contract is open ended unless an end date is stated and thus will remain valid until terminated in accordance with agreed terms or superceded with newly agreed and signed one.
What to do if a childminding arrangement breaks down?
•Read through the contract to ensure that you know what was negotiated, agreed and signed up to
•Keep calm, be professional and arrange to meet the childminder to discuss the disagreement by talking it through when no children are present
•If a new arrangement to those already agreed is required and the childminder is unable to facilitate this new request then it may be best to terminate the contract under the agreed notice period
•The period of notice applies to either party in the contract – both childminders and parents
•The childminder should provide the childminding service during the notice period or they may be asked to pay the parent the amount of fees due in lieu of notice
•The parent should allow the childminder to care for the child during the notice period or they may be liable to pay money to the childminder in lieu of lost fees
•It should be remembered that when a contract is terminated the terms and conditions end
•Any agreed paid time off must have been taken before the contract is terminated
•Notice of termination of the contract by either party must be given in writing and should not include any holiday period. The notice period should be given on the first working day after any agreed holiday period
The Business Side of Childminding
Please note that a new tax year began on 6th April 2015 - Further information on what has changed (including personal allowances) can be found in NICMAs Getting Off to a Good Start Booklet, available for members free of charge in the members area.
Got a lot of questions about tax, National Insurance, business records and expenses?
This online tutorial from HMRC will build your confidence by guiding you through everything you need to know to get started. There are useful tips from others who have been where you are now and practical case studies to help you along the way.
Webinars highlighted this month are:
10 December 2015 at 7.30pm using this link: HMRC Childminder webinar