Childminders can care for a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8.
Childminders can care for more children than this when working with an assistant - and with available floor space carefully measured and assistant permission from Ofsted in place.
However, our normal ratios are 6 children under the age of 8 - of whom 3 can be under 5 with only 1 baby at a time. These ratios include our own children.
For continuity of care and in exceptional circumstances (these are Ofsted’s words, not mine) childminders can still change our number of under 1s and / or under 5s, to accommodate current families who need us to be flexible.
So, for example, we can care for twins under the age of 1 if we have enough under 5 spaces ... or we can continue looking after another baby for continuity of care when we have a baby of our own ... or we can take on a sibling baby (younger brother or sister of a child already in our care) - again as long as we have the space ... or we can look after 4 under 5s to accommodate a parent who needs to change their hours or days.
We can also still count school children (children who attend full time 10 sessions a week school) as 5 for the purposes of our ratios.
The rules are - we must not have more than 6 children under 8 at a time and we can do all these things as long as the change is carefully risk assessed and parents are happy with the arrangement.
There is a lot of flexibility in the rules but we must be cautious - we have to be sure we can justify what we are doing to Ofsted if an allegation of 'over minding' is made against us AND we must continue to ensure we are offering a high level of both care and education to all the children.
The rules are in the EYFS -
They are further explained in this factsheet from Ofsted -
There is more information in this factsheet from the Childminding Forum which was proof read by Ofsted -
And you can find sample wording for your risk assessment and ideas for wording letters to parents in this document, again checked by Ofsted -
If parents have any questions about ratios - if they are confused by the news headlines - if they are unsure whether you can carry on with any variations you currently have in place - reassure them and maybe either print or suggest they read this blog.
If you have any more questions about ratios / variations / changes to conditions / exceptions (or whatever you would like to call them) we are always happy to give advice on the Childminding Forum but please remember it is only best practice advice from experienced childminders - you must make the final decision yourself!
Assistants and variations / ratios changes
You might notice that I am being deliberately vague about assistants. That is because every situation is different.
For a start, you have to have enough floor space in your play rooms -
If you care for more than 6 children under 8 because you have an assistant (and in some Local Authorities more than 6 children in total) you might need to apply for planning permission which is costly, can take a long time and is not guaranteed - so you must check that first.
The rules for assistants are different depending on the register - the EYFS for up to age 5 and the Childcare Registers for over 5s -
You also have to make sure you have secure procedures in place if your assistant is off sick or suddenly leaves to make sure children's care and learning is not compromised.
I suggest if you want to increase your numbers because you work with an assistant you speak to Ofsted and your Local Authority first.
I hope you find this information helpful. A discussion thread has been started about it on the Childminding Forum here -
And you can access further information and advice on the Childminding Forum Independent Childminders Facebook page -