Information for Childminders

What is a Childminder?
A childminder is a person who single-handedly minds children in his/her own home.

What is a HSE notified Childminding Service?
The HSE describes a ‘childminding’ service in the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006 as a preschool service, which may include an overnight service, offered by a person who single-handedly takes care of pre-school children, including the childminder’s own children, in the childminder’s home for a total of more than 2 hours per day, except where exemptions provided in Section 58 of the Child Care Act 1991 apply.

What is a HSE notified Childminder?
A HSE notified childminder is a childminder who is required to notify the HSE of their childminding service.

How many children can I mind as a Childminder?
A childminder (a person who provides a childminding service) should look after not more than 5 pre-school children including his/her own pre-school children. No more than two children should be less than 15 months. Exceptions can be made if the children under 15 months are the result of multiple births e.g. triplets or if the children under 15 months are siblings.

When do I have to notify the HSE?
You must notify the HSE once you mind 4 preschool children who come from more than one family and are not related to you. However, Westmeath County Childcare Committee recommends all Childminders to register with the HSE as best practice. “Registered childminders stand out from the crowd” Training and Professional Development for Childminders:

Is training compulsory for Childminders?
Childminders who are required to notify their local HSE must undertake First Aid training. No other training is required for Childminding at this time. Westmeath County Childcare Committee promotes FETAC Level 5 as an acceptable level to ensure sufficient knowledge of key Child Development milestones, Child Protection, general Safety and the importance of Play.

Should I be paying tax?
Childminders providing a childcare service in their own homes are self-employed and are responsible for making annual tax returns.

A Tax Relief Scheme enables Childminders to mind up to 3 Children and earn up to €15,000 per year tax free, provided that you inform your local childcare committee of your childminding service.

If earnings exceed €15,000 per year – by any amount – you must register with Revenue under the Self Assessment taxation system. Tax due is calculated on the profit of the childminding business, not the income. Childminders earning more than €15,000 and making a return under the self-assessment system must keep receipts of expenditure involved in running the childminding business. Such expenses are deducted from the fees paid by parents to identify your income. For more information on tax please contact your local tax office.

Should I be paid for holidays?
Childminders are self-employed so are not governed by employment legislation in the way that it applies to employees.
Being self-employed means you set the terms and conditions of your business in the same way as any other business person would, i.e. hours of business, the amount and frequency of fees payable – including payment for holidays and other absences and whether meals/snacks, nappies etc. are provided as part of your service and included in the fees or not. It is wise to set these terms out in an agreement, signed by the Childminder and the parent(s). A sample agreement is included in the pack for your guidance.

I am a Childminder, do I need to have policies and procedures in place?
Yes, if you are notified to the HSE, you are required to have a range of policies and procedures in place for your childminding service. Sample policies and procedures can be obtained you’re your local county childcare committee. In respect of HSE notified Childminders, the inspection team will review your policies and procedures and if necessary make recommendations as to revising or updating them. All businesses without exception are required under health and safety legislation to have a safety statement which incorporates a safety policy and procedure.

What if issues arise within the Childminder / Parent relationship?
As with all relationships, from time to time, events or actions may give rise to a difference of opinion or disagreement between the Parent/s and the Childminder. Remember that the child expects that those who love and care for him/her are respectful and trusting of each other. Never discuss any Child in their presence or in the presence of others who are not his parents.

Myself and a friend both mind children and we want to do it together in my house – can we mind 10 children between us?
No, not as a Childminder.

The regulations define a Childminder as a single handed person minding children in the Childminders own home. You can mind 3 pre-school children and a number of after school children (over 6 years of age) bearing in mind the report on school age childcare recommends a ratio of 1 adult : 8 children.

If you are HSE notified you may mind up to 5 pre-school children and a number of after school children. The HSE inspection team may also change the category of your service based on the numbers of children minded and the status of the second person involved in the childminding, i.e. if s/he is a casual helper or stand in, or a full time employee or partner in the childminding service.

I’m starting a Childminding Service from my home; do I need to apply for “Change of Use” Planning Permission?
No, Childminders are exempt from the “Change of Use” Requirement, and have been since 2002. In Statutory Instrument 2001 – 600 Childminding is listed in the Regulations, Part 2 under Exempted Development.
“Development consisting of the use of a house for childminding shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Act” Childminding is defined as “Childminding means the activity of minding no more than 5 children including the children, if any, of the person minding in the house of that person, for profit or gain.”

Is insurance compulsory?
Yes, having appropriate insurance for your Childminding business indicates a commitment to providing high quality, professional service. Remember you should advise your household insurer that you are undertaking Childminding in your home and your motor insurer that you carry minded Children in your car. Failure to do so could invalidate these covers.

GARDA VETTING

What is Garda Vetting?
A Garda vetting application authorises An Garda Síochána to furnish a statement to the applicant (i.e. the Childminder, who has applied for vetting as the owner of the Childminding Service) that there are no convictions recorded against her in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere, or a statement of all convictions and/or prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, in the State or elsewhere as the case may be.

How do I apply for Garda vetting?
Garda vetting for Childminders is organised through Barnardos. Contact Barnardos vetting service: By phone (021) 454 70 60

How much does it cost to be Garda vetted?
The service is free. However, if you have lived abroad for any period you will be required to submit information pertaining to the relevant jurisdiction with your application. Costs accrued regarding accessing that information will be borne by you.

How long does the vetting process take?
Vetting takes approximately 8 weeks. This time will be extended in the event that insufficient or wrong information is included on the application.

Is Garda vetting compulsory for Childminders?
Under the 2006 Childcare Pre-School Services Regulations, it is compulsory for all HSE notified Childminders – those minding four or more non-related pre-school children – and their employees/assistants to be Gárda vetted.

As a Childminder, can I apply for Garda vetting for myself?
Yes. Simply complete the vetting form and sign it in the space marked Manager / owner. If you are not required to notify your childminding service to the HSE, you and other adults (18years and over), living in the family home can still apply for vetting.

What happens if I, or a member of my family, have a conviction?
A statement is returned to you from the Garda vetting unit with details any conviction/prosecutions. The Barnardos Vetting Service only refers a disclosure to the HSE where there is cause for concern in relation to the welfare of children.

What happens in the event a vetting statement shows a conviction in respect of an assistant or helper?
It is important that you have a policy and procedure in place to deal with statements revealing conviction/prosecution, detailing the steps to be taken regarding safe guarding the children in your service and the penalties which may apply in such eventualities including dismissal. All assistants should receive a copy of this policy and procedure in the induction phase.

For the purposes of fair process, when developing your policy and procedure you must identify and list the type of convictions/prosecutions which make it inappropriate for the person to continue on in your childminding service. In the event of a disclosure and in the interest of fair process, you must adhere to the steps set out in the policy and procedure.