CHILD minding advisor Fey Clark visited Magherafelt this week as the new school term is about to start.
For many parents, selecting the right childcare for their child is one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make.
And August is the month when many parents are looking for childcare before school begins.
Fey, who is a local Childminding Development Officer for NICMA – the Childminding Association, offers this advice.
The first step is to decide what type of childcare would best suit your child and your needs. Childminding suits parents who want a high quality, affordable and flexible childcare option, and who value a childcarer who can give their child individual attention in a ‘home from home’ setting. Once you’re sure that a childminder is your preferred option, you need to find out which registered childminders have vacancies in your area. It’s vital to make sure that you only use a childminder who is currently registered with your local health and social care trust. It’s illegal for a childminder to look after a child for payment for more than two hours a day without being registered.
NICMA has a dedicated telephone helpline and website search facility. These services will help you to find a registered childminder almost anywhere in Northern Ireland.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it really is worth taking a little time to visit a number of childminders and to do some research.
You can be assured that any childminder who offers good quality care will quite understand why you want to ask questions and ensure that you make the right, considered choice.
Tips to help make your final choice:
1.Arrange a visit when at least some of the children the childminder looks after are there – do the children seem happy and at ease?
2.Make sure the childminder has adequate insurance cover – ask to see his or her insurance certificates.
3.Check what food is provided and whether any snacks are healthy.
4.Find out about the daily routine followed by the childminder, the activities he/she provides, and any outings or trips.
5.Ask about outdoor play - make sure there’s either an outside play area or a park nearby.
6.Check plenty of books and toys are available.
7.Make sure there’s somewhere quiet for the children to rest.
8.Make sure you’re happy with the childminder’s approach on behaviour.
9.Ask to see any parts of the home and garden which the children use.
10.Once you’ve selected your childminder, ensure you sign a contract with him or her – it provides a vital safeguard for you both.
For more information on finding and choosing a childminder, just call NICMA on 0871 200 2063 or visit the NICMA website at www.nicma.org
Fey Clark will be on hand to give advice to parents at the Meadowlane Shopping Centre, Magherafelt from 10am – 4pm on Tuesday, 16th August where NICMA will have an information stand. Anyone interested in a career in childminding is also invited to come along to find out more.