Last week, Chloe celebrated her 3 year anniversary at Pebbles Childcare and so this week’s blog will focus on why some childminders choose to take on an assistant, how this can be done and the benefits and drawbacks of developing and building your staff team within a home-based childcare environment.
There is a common misconception that being a childminder ultimately means working on your own, and for many childminders, this is the case, but it does not have to be this way. As you all know, we not only promote high quality home-based childcare, but we are also advocates for home-based childcare as a profession and an incredible business opportunity.
For Bridgit, after setting up and launching Pebbles Childcare in June 2015; word of mouth and Bridgit’s reputation resulted in enquiries flooding in daily and with the lower ratios that home-based childcare brings, Bridgit was unable to fulfil this demand alone and so she began to explore different options to increase the number of spaces she was able to offer.
One option to consider when deciding to expand your business is to explore the idea of using apprentices; you could contact your local colleges and discuss what their apprenticeship placements involve.
Alternatively, you could take on an assistant: a childminding assistant does not need to hold any formal childcare qualifications, but they will need to have a valid Paediatric First Aid certificate, undergo a DBS check and an EY2 form from OFSTED. By taking on an assistant you are able to effectively doubles the spaces you can offer and operate together in this way to provide care on a slightly larger scale.
There are some restrictions to employing assistants to develop and expand your business however; assistants can only be left on their own with the children for no more than 2 hours at a time (and you will need permission from all of your parents for the children to be left alone with the assistant.) and so when you as the business owner and registered childminder, are sick or on holiday, the setting will have to close in your absence. Some local councils may also have criteria for home working and any increase in ratio must be discussed and checked with your local authorities prior to taking the next step.
When Bridgit employed Chloe; Chloe initially joined Pebbles Childcare as an assistant whilst she undertook the Level 3 Certificate in ‘Preparing to Work in Home-Based Childcare’ certificate that all practitioners are required to undertake if they want to register as a home-based childcare provider. From the outset, there was an understanding that Chloe would complete her training and then register as a childminder her own right; this would enable the business to not only increase the amount of spaces on offer, but also meant that the business could still operate and Chloe could still offer care in Bridgit’s absence (which is incredibly important for the parents and families in your setting.)
Of course there are additional things to consider here; how do your family feel about the possibility of having someone in their house all the time? How do you feel about someone operating in your home whilst you’re away/upstairs poorly? You will of course become an employer too (unless your colleague would rather be self-employed) and so this means paying tax on your employee’s income and other employer responsibilities will apply. Similarly, as an employer you will have to conduct an interview process, appraisals, disciplinary procedures and also have policies and contracts reflecting this employment too, as well as ensuring you have the correct insurance in place.
Taking on an assistant or co-minding with another childminder not only has practical benefits for the business as a whole, but can also positively impact the wellbeing of your team. Lone-working can be challenging; both physically and mentally and can be increasingly isolating and so working alongside another person, in whichever capacity suits your business best can be positive not only on your wellbeing, but also to bounce ideas of another, draw on each other’s strengths, and just to have company and another adult to talk to day to day.
Home-based childcare doesn’t need to be a negative and isolating place, it can be a buzzing, thriving and viable business and career and is essentially what you make of it. If you are beginning to feel lonely or the pressure of lone-working is too much; perhaps explore what options are available to you in order to develop not only your business, but your staff team too.