This stage of the resource is designed to support you to the setting up of your childminding service and running it as a professional childcare business. It includes sections on childminding as a career, professional skills development, marketing and promotion and business development.
This section has been written in partnership with Alan Laing, former Business Gateway advisor and Tayside Regional Manager for Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland.
STARTING MY CAREER
I am aware childminding can be a rewarding and viable career choice
While childminding, you will develop skills and knowledge which will not only help build your business and provide positive outcomes for children but could also lead to many other opportunities within childcare or other sectors. Planning carefully and getting your business plan right means that you are likely to make a reasonable income and profit.
I am aware there may be local childminders who could be a valuable support to me as I begin this career
Many childminders find the informal support of a local group or other childminders has helped them develop their service. They can give you ideas and suggestions and provide personal support. Socialising with other groups is also beneficial to children’s development.
I am aware there are codes of practice for social service workers and that as a professional childcare worker I will be expected to follow these
The Codes of Practice for Social Services Workers is a list of statements that describes the standards of professional conduct and practice required of social services workers. Most childcare workers (excluding childminders) are required to register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and adhere to these standards. Even though you are not required to register with the SSSC, you will be expected to be aware of these standards and use them to influence your daily work.
The Codes of Practice can be found here
I am aware that I will need to have knowledge of various aspects of health and safety such as risk assessment, food hygiene and infection control in order to run a safe childminding business
The premises you use should provide a rich and stimulating environment for children to play, but it also needs to be free from hazards. To ensure you are keeping children safe and secure you will need to undertake risk assessments from your home and garden area before you begin childminding. At your registration visit your inspector will ask you questions about this. You might find it useful to look at the Health and Safety Executive website.
If you are intending to provide food and snacks you will also be required to register with the Food Standards Agency. Check with your local authority for guidance in your area Food Standards Scotland.
I am aware that a viable business plan will support me into self-employment and help me develop my business
A business plan will help you to set out how you will run your business. Support agencies such as Business Gateway can help you write your plan. It is useful to develop this plan before committing to the registration process as this will help you clarify your vision and aims of your business. One of the many benefits of having a business plan is that you can use it now and as the business develops.
STARTING MY BUSINESS
I am aware that as a childminder I will be self employed
You will be setting up your own business and will need to be aware of the regulation and requirements that involves. You will be expected to follow national guidelines for childcare. Running your own business will also involve keeping records about your income and expenditure and you will need to set aside time to do this on a regular basis.
You can get information about setting up your own business at HMRC
Most local authorities will also have Business Gateway support to help local businesses get started. You could also contact childminding support agencies for childcare specific support.
I am aware that being self-employed means I will be responsible for recording income and expenditure and maintaining all documentation related to running a small business.
This documentation is in addition to, and separate from, what is required from the Care Inspectorate. You can find information about this on the HMRC website
or from your business advisor.
I am aware I will need to inform HMRC when I begin my business
This is a legal requirement. You can find information about this on the HMRC website
I am aware I will be responsible for recording and paying my own tax and national insurance
Many childminders have recommended the help and support provided by the HMRC
I am aware I will need public liability insurance and what that should cover
You will be expected to have this as part of your registration process and setting up your business. It is a good idea to shop around insurance brokers; however insurance specifically for childminders is available through support agencies such as SCMA.
I am aware of the costs associated with starting up my business
The costs will include your Care Inspectorate registration fee, PVG membership, insurance plus any start-up costs associated with your business such as smoke alarms, fire blanket, toys and resources.
Registering and running a childminding service – what you need to know
However, we do advise you not to spend too much on any resources until after you have had your first registration meeting.
I am aware I will need to prepare and agree contracts with parents and carers that will outline how I will care for their children
If you are able to have a look at other contracts they will give you an idea of what your competitors are offering. Your contract should clearly describe what your service will provide. This ensures everyone involved is clear. Contracts will include details of expectations, boundaries and payment information.
I am aware of the local support agencies available to my business
The availability of support local support agencies will vary depending on the area of the country you live in. You should check out your local authority website to see what they provide (search for early learning and childcare)
Another agency that can support local businesses is Business Gateway
Enterprise initiatives may be available through your local authority from time to time. Check these out by searching for ‘enterprise’ on your local authority website.
Depending on your age you may also be eligible for support with Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland.
Help and advice about potential support in work benefits is available at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website
The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) is a national organisation supporting childminders in Scotland. They offer advice, support and training which is open to all childminders in Scotland
In Highland and Moray, Care and Learning Alliance provide support and training to childminders
I am aware it is my responsibility to make sure I have permission from the landlord or mortgage company to run my business if required
You will need to check your lease agreement or mortgage to ensure you can run a childminding business from your home. We will expect you to have checked this before your first registration meeting.
I am aware there are legal requirements if I intend to transport children
If you are going to be using a car to do pick-ups and so on you must consider what type of insurance you will need to transport children. You can get advice about this from an insurance broker or from a childminding support agency.
You will also need to have the correct child seats for the ages and stages of children you will be transporting.
I am aware I will need to take into consideration local rates and price sensitivity and to balance these with the need for delivering quality care to children while maintaining a profitable business
Take into consideration what other child carers charge but use this as a guide only. Each service will be unique and you need to make sure you are not only covering your costs but that you are also making a profit. Remember you will need to pay tax and national insurance too. Parents will be looking for affordability, but will not necessarily choose the cheapest option.
I am aware I could be entitled to additional in-work benefits in support of my income.
To find out if you are eligible or entitled to any of these benefits visit Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
I am aware that my income may go up or down according to how many children I am minding and spaces I have available
As children enter and leave your service, your income may vary. Ensure you have considered how you will budget for this.
MARKETING AND PROMOTING MY BUSINESS
I am aware of the benefits of creating a unique identity for my business
Consider how you might attract people to your business through advertising your unique identity and ideas. This will help you stand out from other childminders and will be an important marketing tool.
I am aware that how I present myself and how I act represents not just me but my business
Before you start your business you should consider how you want your business to be regarded by others. You are your business, and how you present yourself will influence how other people see you. This is particularly important when out and about in your community and on social media sites.
I am aware of the market (and potential market) for childminding in my area
Consider what other childminders and early learning and childcare services there are locally. Is there a market for your service? Can you identify any gaps in provision locally? From 2020, the number of funded Early Learning and Childcare hours a child is entitled to will increase to 1140 per year. It is likely that some childminders will be part of the range of service providers working in partnership with local authorities to provide Early Learning and Childcare places for eligible 2 year olds and 3 and 4 year olds. If you are interested in providing this service contact your local authority early years team to register your interest.
I am aware that my business may develop over time and I should be open to new ideas
When starting your business you may have a good idea about what type of service you want to offer. However as you become more experienced you may want to, or need to, change this. Know your capacity as well as your limitations. Seek all the advice and information you can to help you to realise your goals and targets. You should also be prepared to consider different marketing ideas to raise the profile of your business in your area. You should also be aware of any potential business that could be offered in partnership with your local authority.
I am aware of the current rate for child care in my area and how to use this to plan my pricing structure
Research the rates for childcare in your area before you decide how much to charge. You could do this on the internet or the family information service available from your local authority. Being aware of the rates for childcare in your local area will help you to decide what you charge for the service you provide.
I am aware of the potential of social media to market and promote my service
Setting up a social media site or website can be a quick and inexpensive method of advertising your business and communicating what you do. You will need to be aware of privacy settings and have a good understanding of what information you can and cannot share on public sites with regard to your service.
MY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
I am aware I may be eligible for funding to help with the cost of training courses
Some local authorities can help with funding for training courses and qualifications, or you may be able to apply for funding through local enterprise organisations. Local colleges or training agencies may have more information about funding.
You may be eligible for funding from Skills Development Scotland. The revised scheme will be called an Individual Training Account and will be available from October 2017
I am aware I will be required to undertake continuous professional development to develop and support my business to effectively meet the needs of children and there is likely to be a cost involved in this
Keeping up to date with best practice will help you develop yourself and also support you in improving outcomes for children. Attending training courses is just one way of updating your skills and knowledge. You can also access websites, professional publications and magazines and reflect on these to demonstrate you are updating your knowledge.
Some training may be available locally, or may be available online. Think about what type of training would suit you. Your local authority Early Years Team may provide training that you can access, or colleges or private training agencies specialising in Early Years training may also provide opportunities for childminders. The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) is a national organisation offering training which is open to all childminders in Scotland.
There may be a charge for some or all of these training opportunities, so you should consider adding in the costs of training to your pricing structure.