Should you employ a childminding assistant?

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Many successful childminders started their careers as childminder assistants. This valuable experience helps newcomers to see whether childminding is for them and gain the skills they need to become professional childminders themselves.

There are also many benefits for childminders as, by taking on an assistant, you are able to care for an increased number of children and become more flexible with the service you provide.

What is it?

A childminder assistant works alongside a registered childminder in domestic premises, providing an extra pair of hands to care for and supervise the children.

Sometimes, partners and husbands train to become childminder assistants but equally, ideal apprentices can be found by recruiting school leavers who are eager to gain hands-on experience of working in a setting.

What are the benefits?

  • If your apprentice holds an appropriate paediatric certificate and you have parents’ permission, they can provide extra cover on school runs so that you don’t have to take all the children out at once.
  • With an extra person on board your adult: child ratios double, which means you can expand your business by being able to look after more children.
  • You can give back to your profession by being a mentor and role model for next generation of childminders.
  • Childminding can be very isolating, so it’s great to have another adult working alongside you to indulge in “grown up” conversations during the day.
  • If any children at your setting need particular care or attention, such as those with special educational needs, having an extra person working beside you can be really beneficial.

What you need to do?

  • If you’re planning to take on an assistant, you’ll need to register with HMRC as an employer, as any assistants must be on your payroll. Your apprentice will need to be paid the minimum national wage for apprentices, too.
  • You must also hold Employer’s Liability Insurance. Your public liability insurance policy might already have employer’s liability included, but if not, you’ll need to arrange separate cover.
  • Advertise the position! You can use newspapers, flyers in shop window, or online job boards to let people know that you are looking for someone to join your setting.
  • Before they start work, your assistant must pass a full DBS check to ensure they are suitable to work with children.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that assistants are fully aware of the policies and procedures in your setting and explain how they are implemented. For peace of mind, it is useful to print out a hard copy of your policies and procedures and get your apprentice to sign and date each topic after you have covered it.
  • If you are planning to leave children in the sole care of your apprentice, you will need to ensure they have taken the full and relevant training, including holding an up-to-date first aid certificate.
  • As a diligent employer, you should carry out appraisals and set objectives for your apprentice to reach each year.  You will also want to contact a training provider and refer your assistant to take their childcare qualifications, such as their Level 2.

In summary, taking on a childcare assistant is an ideal way to grow your business, without having to spend lots of money in the process. What’s more, there’s so much satisfaction to be had by teaching someone else everything you know, so they can grow into an experienced childminder themselves.

Taking that first step to become an employer can be daunting, but will be so worthwhile for your business in the long term!
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