Answer – theoretically, yes – the EYFS 2012 and the revised EYFS 2014 both state in requirement 3.41 – ‘If a childminder employs an assistant or works with another childminder, each childminder (or assistant) may care for the number of children permitted by the ratios specified above (subject to any restrictions imposed by Ofsted on registration).’
However, there are some things you need to do before you double the number of children for whom you care…
· Floor space - check the floor space in your house – this is usable floor space - not kitchens, halls, floors covered by furniture etc. You will find a guidance document here. This document is in files on the Childminding Forum, freely available to everyone.
· Planning permission - you need to check with your LA to find out if you need planning permission for doing something different to the normal ratios for 1 childminder working from home on their own - more information here. This document is in files on the Independent Childminders Facebook group.
· Ofsted suitability - your assistant will need an Ofsted suitability letter (completed EY2 application form and DBS check) before they are left on their own with children (including doing school runs). Sometimes assistants are required to undergo a health check before their suitability is determined by Ofsted.
· Permission from parents – this is covered in EYFS requirement 3.41 – ‘Childminders must obtain parents and/or carers’ permission to leave children with an assistant, including for very short periods of time.’ It is strongly suggested that this permission is requested from parents in writing so you have evidence of compliance with the requirement for Ofsted.
· Paediatric first aid certificate – as detailed in requirement 3.24 – ‘Childminders, and any assistant who might be in sole charge of the children for any period of time, must hold a current paediatric first aid certificate’ if they are ever left on their own with children.
· Training - you must ensure your assistant is trained to work alongside you - requirement 3.23 – ‘Childminders are accountable for the quality of the work of any assistants, and must be satisfied that assistants are competent in the areas of work they undertake’. You are responsible for delivering this training and will be downgraded at inspection if they cannot answer the inspector’s questions fully and confidently.
Note induction training information in requirement 3.18 ‘Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection, the provider’s equality policy, and health and safety issues.’
· Key person - each child must be given a named key person – and information about the key person must be shared with parents - requirement 3.72 – ‘Providers must make the following information available to parents and/or carers: the name of their child’s key person and their role’.
· Staffing - parents must be informed about staffing - requirement 3.72 – ‘Providers must make the following information available to parents and/or carers: staffing in the setting’.
· Safeguarding lead practitioner - the childminder must be nominated as lead practitioner for safeguarding - requirement 3.5 – ‘A practitioner must be designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children in every setting. Childminders must take the lead responsibility themselves.’ It is the childminder’s responsibility to ensure all staff are fully briefed about what to do if they are worried a child is being abused and what to do if they have concerns about a child’s welfare or wellbeing, including recognising the signs and symptoms of abuse.
· Behaviour management lead practitioner - the childminder must be nominated as lead practitioner for behaviour management - requirement 3.50 ‘A named practitioner should be responsible for behaviour management in every setting.’ It is the childminder’s responsibility to ensure the assistant is fully trained to manage behaviour effectively and positively, following the policy and procedures of the provision.
· Procedures - your safeguarding procedures must include whistleblowing information including details about inappropriate behaviour by staff - requirement 3.6 – ‘inappropriate behaviour displayed by other members of staff, or any other person working with the children. For example - inappropriate sexual comments, excessive one-to-one attention beyond the requirements of their usual role and responsibilities or inappropriate sharing of images’.
· Risk assessment - you should have a risk assessment that covers what you will do if your assistant is off sick including how you will inform parents, which children will not be accommodated, how you will inform parents about alternative care for their child (a requirement of the Childcare Register) etc – this information should be shared with parents.
· Register – you must record when your assistant is working with you, so that you have evidence there are enough adults to meet the children’s needs and to comply with the EYFS ratios requirements (R3.39). You must also record when children are on their own with your assistant – EYFS requirement 3.41 ‘Children may be left in the sole care of childminders’ assistants for 2 hours at most in a single day.’ Again, it is important that this information is recorded in writing as evidence for Ofsted.
· Insurance - you need to check how many your insurance company covers you for - they are different – Morton Michel / Pacey - .
If all of that is in place you can double your numbers when working together with an assistant.
I hope this clarifies the EYFS 2012 requirements as I understand them. Please ask if you need any further information. For more detailed information about assistants please see e-book 48 'Assistants' from my Knutsford Childminding website.