If you are thinking about working with children, or looking for a suitable childcare provider in your area, you might have come across ‘childminder agencies’. We have written an article to explain what a childminder agency does, and why you might want to use one if you are thinking about becoming a childminder (orare a parent looking for a childminder near you!).
Want to work with a childminder agency near you?
What is a childminder agency?
A childminder agency is a childcare provider that helps to locate and train early educators, e.g. childminders. They’re a form of quality assurance and support.
A good childminder agency takes great pride in vetting any childminder that joins them. For instance, Koru Kids carries out background checks like enhanced DBS checks, ‘right to work’ checks, ‘known to Ofsted’ checks, reference checks, and provides free, in-depth training.
Childminder agencies have been an option for parents and childminders since 2014, when they were first allowed to form by the Department for Education. This is why they are all relatively ‘young’ businesses.
As of October 2021, there are 7 childminder agencies in the UK, according to Ofsted’s records:
- City Childcare Childminding Agency
- Integrity Childminder Agency
- @Home Childcare
- Rua Kids Ltd (Koru Kids)
- Rutland Early Years Agency Limited
- Suffolk Childcare Agency Limited
What’s ‘Rua Kids’, and is it different to Koru Kids?
Don’t worry if you see ‘Rua Kids’ somewhere instead of Koru Kids! When we set up Home Nursery, we did it as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koru Kids. Sticking with the theme of Maori names, we chose ‘Rua’—Maori for ‘two’—for our second legal company. So the legal name for our Home Nursery company is Rua, but the team and service is 100% Koru Kids. You can just think of the two as one flourishing family.
Our CEO and founder, Rachel Carrell, was born and raised in New Zealand, where Maori is an official language.
Are all childminder agencies national, or are they local?
Some childminder agencies operate in specific areas, sometimes as local as a 15 mile radius from the agency offices. Some operate across all of England. Koru Kids started out in London and the surrounding counties, but is quickly opening up home nurseries across England—so don’t worry if we’re not active in your area just yet, we probably will be soon!
Do all childminder agencies offer the same support?
Childminder agencies all offer some form of support. It could be basic training, or some initial help with getting started, and telling you where to get the relevant training.
Do childminder agencies get Ofsted ratings?
Childminder agencies do receive a form of Ofsted rating—a childminding agency report. The majority of childminding agencies don’t have reports yet, because they are quite new, and it can take Ofsted 6 years. Some agencies have been registered with Ofsted since 2014, and have yet to receive their first report.
What’s in a childminder agency Ofsted report?
The report details whether or not a childminder agency is effective in the service it provides. The Ofsted reports for childminder agencies looks at qualities like leadership and management, the childminder agency’s services, and the impact of the agency’s services on the quality of the education and care provided by its childminders. Ofsted then concludes that the agency is either ‘effective’ or ‘ineffective’.
Can childminder agencies provide ratings like Ofsted?
Yes, all agencies are required to inspect their childminders regularly to make sure they’re meeting Ofsted’s requirements.
What would be good qualities to look for in a childminder agency?
If you are thinking about becoming a childminder, you want to find an agency that provides:
- Training that is free, or reasonably priced. Expensive training is a real obstacle for anyone starting a business, and could be a red flag that the agency is only out to make money from the training, not support childminders over the long term
- Training that gives you more than just the basics. Agencies tend to go above and beyond to make sure anyone starting a childminding business with them has world-class training, that enables them to bring the EYFS to life in an outdoor-based, child-led approach
- A supportive process from the very beginning. The agency should do it’s best to help potential childminders every step of the way, and keep supporting them while they are up and running
- Careful vetting process. You want to join an agency with other early educators who care just as much as you do, not an agency that lets anyone in just because they want to make money
- Great income, and opportunities for career progression. Koru Kids make sure our childminders charge in line with other high quality childcare services. This means that on average, childminders working with us in inner London earn about £37,000 per year, after our fees and their own expenses, but before tax. If you want to expand and work with 1 or 2 assistants, you can earn up to £70,000 per year.
- Transparency and communication. A good childminder agency is open about their practices, their core values, and happy to answer questions. They are easy to get hold of, and friendly and professional when they respond
- Child-centred through and through. A childminder agency that doesn’t have children’s best interests at the heart of everything they do won’t be any good to a childminder that joins them. When we support our childminders, we support the children in their care, and the parents that use their services.