Registered childminders are professional day carers who work in their own home to provide care and education for other people's children in a family setting.

Registered childminders are allowed to care for a maximum of six children under eight years old, of which usually no more than three may be in the age range birth to five years. These numbers include the childminder's own children. As they work with small groups of children, they may be able to offer more individualised care. They can also look after siblings of different ages. Childminders may employ assistants or work together with another registered childminder to enable them to care for increased numbers of children.

Childminders can either be registered by Ofsted or by a Childminder Agency; the childminder agency must be registered with Ofsted. The registration process involves extensive checks to ascertain their suitability which includes criminal records, health and social care checks. Applicants will then be interviewed and have the opportunity to discuss how they make their premises suitable

An Ofsted registered childminder will be inspected at least once every four years. Childminding inspection reports are available online on the Ofsted website.

A childminder registered with a childminder agency will receive at least one quality assurance visit per year and have access to support and training as set out in the regulations for childminder agencies. The Agency has a duty to publish the quality assurance reports which will be found on the agency's website. 

All early years providers including childminders must work within the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which sets out the framework for the learning and development, safeguarding and welfare and assessment of children.

Childminders are self-employed and set their own hourly rates. A contract will be agreed with the childminder that will include hours, holiday pay and terms and conditions. Childminders can accept childcare vouchers as payment, families qualifying for Working Tax Credit may be able to claim help with childcare costs.

Some childminders may offer funded Early Education places for three and four year olds and for some two year olds who meet the eligibility criteria. Ask the childminder directly whether they offer the funding.