What exactly is a childminder agency in England? It is an organisation that has Ofsted permission to register childminders.
There are some clear advantages of registering with a childminder agency.
Registered childminder agencies will provide a range of useful services to agency members and to parents (e.g. advice and support).
But, setting up a childminder agency in England means you will need to register with Ofsted.
Note: Childminder agency registration can take place as an individual or as a private or public sector organisation (e.g. an academy or a school).
When you register a childminder agency you will be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and an interview by Ofsted inspectors. Check out the ‘Ofsted DBS Application’ process for further details.
Which Register You Need to Join
There are two different, yet connected, childminding registers you can join. So, depending on your situation as an individual or an organisation, you would need to:
- Apply to join the Early Years Register if you want to register childminders who will be looking after children from birth to age five (i.e. the 31st of August after their 5th birthday).
- Apply to join the compulsory part of the Childcare Register if you want to register childminders who will be looking after children aged five (5) to seven (7).
- Join both registers if you want to register childminders who will be looking after children of all ages.
Note: Registration on the compulsory part of the Childcare Register means you can choose to join the voluntary part. But, you must have already registered childminders on the compulsory part to be able to register them on the voluntary part as well.
Fees for Registering as a Childminder Agency
The full Ofsted registration process can take up to four (4) months to complete when you set up and register as a childminder agency.
Note: The current cost to register as a childminder agency is £220. But, joining the Childcare Register is free if you have already registered on (or applying to register for) the Early Years Register.
Top Questions about Childminder Agency Registration
Q. Is Registering with a Childminder Agency a Requirement?
The simple answer is ‘no’. As an individual childminder you can choose to join an Ofsted-registered childminder agency or you can also choose to maintain your individual Ofsted registration instead.
Q. Can I be Self-employed and Register with a Childminder Agency?
In fact, the best answer to this one is… it would depend on the actual agency.
Some childminding agencies will choose only to employ childminders registered on their official list or directory. Whereas, others will allow childminders to remain in self-employment.
Q. Can I Register with an Agency and Keep My Individual Ofsted Registration?
Once again, the best answer is ‘no’. An individual Ofsted registration would become null and void after registering with a childminder agency.
How to Apply for Childminder Agency Registration
- The first step is to read the childminder agency regulation handbook for registration guidance. It also provides information on the legal background and compliance with Ofsted policies.
- You would then need to apply for a DBS check. Make an application through the Ofsted portal (details above).
- Joining the DBS Update Service is the next step. You would need to allow Ofsted to check your DBS certificate on a regular basis (every 6 months). Joining the update service within 19 days of getting your certificate means you avoid having to get a new certificate.
- You can download the application forms CMA1 and CMA2 to register with Ofsted. Fill in the relevant forms and send them to the address written on the document. In some cases, you will also need to fill in and send a declaration and consent form.
- The final step is to prepare for the registration visit by an Ofsted inspector. Further details on this part of the process are available in the childminder agency handbook.
Extra Help and Advice
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) will answer any questions you may have about the application process.
Changes to Anyone Named in the Application
You must inform Ofsted if any of the recorded details change (e.g. to someone named in your application). Use the notification form CMA3 for to change your registration details.
What Happens After You Apply?
You will learn whether you can start working as a childminder agency on completion of the registration inspection visit. If so, you will receive a registration certificate by mail.
Once you have registered as a childminder agency, Ofsted can:
- Carry out another inspection.
- Conduct an ‘investigation visit’ (e.g. if someone complains about you).
Note: You must display your Ofsted registration certificate in your place of work at all times.
If Ofsted Refuse Your Application
Ofsted may turn down your application for becoming a childminder agency. If so, you will receive a letter called a ‘notice of intention’. The notice of intention will inform you why Ofsted turned down your application and how to object and appeal.
How to Withdraw an Application
As a rule, you can choose to withdraw your application at any time. But, you would lose that option if you get a notice of intention to refuse your registration. In this case, they would not refund the registration fee.