It's not just a question of cost, there's lots of other things to take into consideration when looking for someone to care for your child.
Finding a childminder to look after your precious child should be given the utmost thought and consideration. The wrong childminder could serious damage the welfare of your child and family. Even family members have been shown to not always be the best solution.
Before you go looking for a childminder ensure you know what you are looking for, remember your child may be spending a large proportion of their time with this person and you need to be satisfied they are the best person for the job.
Visit during the day preferably while she is looking after other children. Have a good look around and ask as many questions as you need until you feel confident that this is a safe environment for your child.
We've put together a list of questions you should feel happy with the answers to when selecting a childminder. Asking questions can sometimes feel uncomfortable but when your child's welfare is at risk people will understand why you have to ask them.
Do they come highly recommended?
Do you know other parents who use them? Speak to them ask them how they find their service.
Do they treat all children including their own equally?
You need to ensure that your child is treated equally at all times, there can be no room for favourites.
Do you feel confident they understand the complex needs of young children.
How do they deal with tantrums, with sharing, biting etc. They need to be fair but firm.
Are there plenty of stimulating activities for the children to engage in?
Plonking them in front of the television is not an acceptable activity. Will they be taken to the park, to playgroups or other child friendly places? Are there activities for children to engage in around the childminder's home?
Do they like children?
Lets be realistic here some are clearly in it for the money and the convenience. Make sure your childminder genuinly likes being around children and is happy with her chosen work.
Is your childminder registered?
With the local social services department or other appropriate authority. If they are it is generally a good sign that they take their job seriously.
How do they feel about people of other races?
If they are condemming of one group they could be just as condemming about your families racial background when you're not present and could have a negative influence on your child.
Who are their friends and visitors?
Remember your child may be present when friends and other visitors call. Again that may create a negative environment for your child. Don't be afraid to ask what visitors they have whilst your child is present.
Is the home clean?
It may sometimes be untidy, that is understandable if they are looking after small children but it still needs to be clean.
Will they provide healthy nutritious food for your child?
It's no good you doing all the hard work at home if when your child goes to the childminder they get fed junk food. Ensure they are feeding your child food that you approve of and stick to any requirements you request.
Don't be afraid to return unannounced and check that your child is happy. Remember just as in yours, circumstances in your childminder's life can change and affect the way she performs her job. It is up to you to continually check that everything is going well and your child is happy.
Around two thirds of childminders belong to the National Childminding Association(NCMA). It provides registered childminders with 'tools of the trade', such as sample contracts, attendance registers and specialist insurance policies.
The National Childminding Association produce a free leaflet about choosing a childminder and also give advice to parents. You can call the Freephone information line on 0800 169 4486 or click here to go to the NCMA website: