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under5s - Accredited Childminders - Is it for me?
Accredited Childminders 

I am a newly accredited Childminder in a new network in Hampshire. I have been with the network for two years, and after lots of meetings, visits, and hard work from my network co-ordinator and the individuals on the Network, my accreditation has finally been approved. 

As well as being on an Approved Children Come first network, I have put together my planning and observations and have become one of two childminders on my network that can pull down Early Years Education funding for rising 4's.

What do I think? Is it worth it? Is there lots of work involved?

I am asked these questions regularly by other childminders, and I think it depends what you personally want out of Childminding.

I want to be taken seriously. I want to provide quality flexible care to local families and I want to provide quality care for children in a warm, loving, educational and flexible environment where I can be my own boss. I want to have a career and not be thought of as 'just a mum', yet I still want to be there every day for my own young children.

Is it worth it?

To be honest some days I do not think Accreditation is worth it. Why?

Well, in my area parents have not yet heard of an Accredited childcare provider, you have to explain it to them - and I am not just talking about childminders in this case, we have one accredited pre-school locally, a nursery working towards Accreditation, and they don't always see what advantage it is to them.

Is there lots of work involved?

The paper work - there is lots of that, especially if you want to get the funding for Early Years places, but I found that I covered the foundation stage curriculum anyway it was just a question of recording it, and it does get easier with practice. The way you do it is up to you, as after all you are an individual running your own business, and you do get lots of support.

There is training involved, my network meets one evening a month. This interests me, childcare is a changing field, we need to learn ideas, share suggestions and keep up to date with legislation, my network can offer this - it also gives me the opportunity to meet other professional childminders.

"Accredited Childminders planning activities, takes the spontaneity out of Childminding".

That is rubbish, yes you have to plan things, but you can abandon your plans to watch the digger dig up the road, to attend an event at the local school, to splash in puddles because it is fun, and you can still go to Toddler group - as long as you can justify what you are doing and it is on benefit to the children. 

On days when Accreditation is worth it:

  • You are treated as a profession by your local school and get invited a long to a share partnership meeting with pre-school and nursery staff. 
  • You discover you can claim Early Years funding for your children.
  • A parent asks you to provide a child's early years education as he loves it with you so much and they don't want to move him on to pre-school.
  • You stop doing pre-school runs, and have the child all day instead.
  • You are unsure whether a child has a special need or not, and can seek profession advice quickly and easily. 
  • The children enjoy the activity you learnt at a recent training and reward you with a hug.
  • The parents say to you, "there is no one else who I can trust more to be with my child. Thank you". 
  • You feel good about yourself, you are stretching your mind, learning for yourself and improving your business.
  • You have made some great friends.
How do you become Accredited?

At the moment there are two methods you can join a Children's Come First NCMA network or you can build a portfolio along NCMA guidelines, send it off and update it every few years. However with the portfolio you can not claim the Early Years Funding (yet). 

NOTE: You don't have to be an NCMA member to join, but the organisation would prefer it. 

The only way to find out if Accreditation is for you is to find out more, there are different ways of doing it and different networks offer different facilities. 

The NCMA or your local Children's Information Service could put you in touch with a co-ordinator who could tell you more, but the decision depends on what you want from Childminding and how long a commimentment you are willing to give.

Helen Renouf
Quality Assured Childminder and Early Years Education Provider. 

under5s - Accredited Childminders - Is it for me?
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