CHILDCARERS checklist - Document Checks, Research & References
Choosing the perfect childcarer for your child is an extremely important decision you as a parent will ever do. It is important that you make sure the person you choose is suitable to care for your child, so ensure you have the reassurance that your child's care, well-being and learning are in safe hands.
There are several important checks you must carry out before entering into a contract with a childcare provider to care for your children. We suggest that you review each piece of evidence and talk to the childcarer about each aspect of your child's care which you want to discuss. A checklist is always useful to use when ensuring you have all the information you need.
All childminders must be registered with Ofsted in England, Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) or The Care Inspectorate in Scotland. Childminders must show you their registration certificate - and the childminder's registration number can be entered into the Ofsted website to view the childminder's latest inspection report and details about any complaints which have been upheld against them. You can view inspection reports for childminders in Wales on the Care Inspectorate Wales website and for childminders in Scotland on the Care Inspectorate website. In Northern Ireland childminders must be registered with the Early Years team at their local Health and Social Care Trust.
Registration is not a statutory requirement for nannies - although nannies need to be registered if parents need to claim any help with childcare costs through government schemes. Nannies might be registered with the Ofsted as a Home Childcarer or on the Voluntary Childcare Register, which is an Ofsted registration service for carers of older children. However, voluntary registration with Ofsted is one of the ways in which a nanny can demonstrate good practice and many parents prefer to use an Ofsted registered nanny.
There is no official registration process for Babysitters. Some childminders and nannies may offer babysitting services. Other babysitters may have daytime jobs in nurseries, schools or similar organisations. Be cautious of anyone offering a babysitting service that does not appear to have any relevant qualifications or experience.
All childcarers should have appropriate, up-to-date public liability insurance to carry out their work and you should ask to see proof of insurance cover.
DBS / PVG Checks
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are the name given to criminal record checks in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find out more on gov.uk.
In Scotland, childminders and nannies can undergo a Basic Disclosure or PVG check. You can find more information on Disclosure Scotland. In Northern Ireland, AccessNI, a branch of the Department of Justice, provides a Criminal History Disclosure Service.
It is very important that parents check that their potential childcarer has a DBS / PVG check in place and read any comments on the disclosure carefully.
Everyone who lives in a childminder's house who is over the age of 16 must also have a DBS check. Checks are not normally updated by Ofsted (for English childminders) but are renewed every 3 years in Wales. Parents might find that some childcarers have more than one check if they do other child-related voluntary or paid work.
It is recommended that anyone working with children holds an Enhanced DBS check rather than a standard DBS check.
A DBS / PVG check will help parents to find out more about the criminal history of their potential childcarer and / or childminder's family. The following information is included in an enhanced DBS disclosure:
- Spent and unspent convictions;
- Cautions, warnings and reprimands via a search on the Police national database;
- Notification if the person is listed on the children's or vulnerable adults' barred list;
- Information held by Police or SAAFA if the childcarer has been in the army;
- Social services concerns relating to the childcarers children or family history.
Note that a DBS check is not infallible because it is only up-to-date on the day it is undertaken. However, it can provide parents with useful insights into their childcarer's past. There is now something called the DBS Update Service which lets applicants keep their DBS certificates up-to-date online and allows employers to check a certificate online. The update service will inform you if there have been any changes to the DBS certificate since the date it was issued.
Please note that Childcare Connect cannot verify DBS / PVG checks for childcarers who are registered on our database. It is, therefore, very important that parents carry out their own robust checks during the interview process.
Applying for a DBS Check
There are many organisations that you can use to undertake a DBS check for a prospective employee. Some companies offering this service include Experian, Online DBS Checks, PersonalChecks, Complete Background Screening and ucheck.
Childcare providers can also use the Ofsted DBS Application portal provided by Security Watchdog, part of Capita Plc, to apply for a DBS check. Find out more about obtaining a DBS check as a childcare provider
Can I apply for my own DBS check?
Enhanced DBS checks can only generally be applied for by employers rather than employees or self-employed childcare providers.
However, if you live in England or Wales, it is now possible to request your own basic DBS check for a fee of £25 directly from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
You can also apply online for a Basic Disclosure from Disclosure Scotland which is the simplest form of check and contains only convictions considered unspent under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
In Northern Ireland, you can apply online for an AccessNI basic criminal records check.
The .gov website also has information on DBS checks for childminders and childcare workers.
Child Sex Offender Discloser Scheme
The child sex offender disclosure scheme allows parents, carers and guardians to formally ask the police to tell them if someone has a record for child sexual offences.
The scheme is available across all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Find out if a person has a record for child sexual offences
Paediatric First Aid
We recommend that all childcare providers undertake a face-to-face Paediatric First Aid Course. This is a legal requirement for registered childminders and Ofsted registered childcare providers in England. On successful completion of a course, a provider will be issued with a certificate. It is recommended that providers repeat the training at least every 3 years and this is a requirement for Ofsted registered childcare providers. Parents should ask to see a copy of a provider's Paediatric First Aid training certificate and ensure it is dated within the last 3 years.
If your childcarer is going to transport your child in their own vehicle then you must ensure they have the correct documentation in place.
- Insurance - class 1 business insurance is required for transporting children and the childcarer's insurance certificate should state that the insured is covered to drive a vehicle used for transporting children.
- Up-to-date tax (Check if a vehicle is taxed);
- MOT certificate (DVLA MOT check) and MOT history (DVLA MOT history);
- Driving licence (DVLA driving licence check);
- Car breakdown cover is important so your child is not stranded if the car breaks down.
You should also ask to see the childcarer's vehicle - would you be happy for the childcarer to use it for transporting your children? Are car seats in good repair and consistent with current standards - or will you provide your own?
If a childcarer is reluctant to show parents documentation and demonstrate that their car is suitable for transporting children - alarm bells should ring!
Please note that Childcare Connect cannot verify vehicle checks for childcarers who are registered on our database. It is, therefore, very important that parents carry out their own robust checks during the interview process.
Proof Of Identity
Parents should ask to see 2 sets of proof of identity - one which features the childcarer's photo and one which contains their address. Proof of identity might include, for example, a passport, driving licence, visa, work permit, birth certificate or utility bill.
For more information about documentation required by a non-British citizen who wants to work in the UK please HMRC's website.
As part of a ‘proof of identity' check, parents who are employing a childcare provider (such as a nanny or au pair) should verify the childcare provider's eligibility to work in the UK. It is a legal requirement, detailed in the Asylum and Immigration Act 2006, to check that the person you intend to employ has the right to work in the UK and is here legally. Again, gov.uk provides further advice on how to check if someone can work in the UK.
Please note that Childcare Connect cannot verify proof of identity of childcarers who are registered on our database. It is very important that parents carry out their own robust checks during the interview process.
The .gov.uk website contains information on how you can check early years qualifications.
All childminders must have a valid paediatric First Aid certificate - this is not a requirement for nannies but strongly recommended. If childcarers care for older children who have reached puberty they should also have a valid adult First Aid training certificate.
Many childcarers will have evidence of continued professional development including course attendance certificates and level 2 and 3 early years qualifications. These are important for demonstrating that the childcare provider is committed to self improvement and to enhancing their practice - however, it is not a requirement of Ofsted registration.
It is very important that parents find out as much as they can about their potential childcare provider before leaving them alone with the children. All childcarers should be able to provide parents with references. If they are newly registered, they might provide a character reference rather than a job-based reference plus a reference from, for example, a college tutor or a parent for whom they have provided babysitting services.
Parents should telephone all referees - anyone can answer an email! Make a list of questions you want to ask and go through them all after introducing yourself and checking that the person you are calling has time to chat to you.
Questions you might ask include:
- How long have you known the childcare provider?
- What is your relationship with the provider?
- How long has the childcarer worked for you - and in what capacity?
- Are you pleased with the childcarer's work? You might want to ask about their timekeeping, cleanliness, play ideas with the children, responsibility, ability to cope in stressful situations etc.
- Why is the childcarer leaving your employment?
If you are looking for a live-in nanny there will be other questions to ask to reassure yourself that they will conduct themselves appropriately while living in your home.
There are a number of companies who offer reference checking services if you would rather outsource this process to an organisation who is experienced in this area. An internet search will reveal a number of organisations offering reference checking services such as Experian and Verifile.
Please note that Childcare Connect does require childcare provider to give 3 references when registering on the website. However Childcare Connect cannot check the references of those childcarers who are registered on our database. It is, therefore, very important that parents carry out their own robust checks during the interview process.
Childcare Provider Reviews
We are currently in the process of developing a review platform.
This development will allow Parent members to leave public reviews for childcare providers and the provider will have the facility to respond. This will promote safety as it will allow parents a voice if they have concerns about a care provider, while at the same time ensuring good practice is shared and high quality working practices celebrated.
All reviews will be approved by a member of our team before they appear on our platform. Many parents prefer the reassurance of using a childcare member who has received multiple positive reviews.
During the development of the Review platform, If you've had a good, or bad, experience of a childcare member then please take the time to send a childcare provider review to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will retain this information and ensure this is shared once the Review platform has been launched. This information will help to reassure other parents.
Other documentation your childcare provider might show you
A professional childcare provider will want to demonstrate to you that they are capable of caring for children of different ages and that they have the skills and knowledge to manage the very individual needs of your child. Many childcare providers will do this via a combination of telephone and face-to-face interview and written documentation. For example, childminders will show you their policies, procedures and sample paperwork and share any other information with you as required by the EYFS (Early Years Register) and Ofsted. You should take time to look at this documentation and to complete any forms given to you by your childcare provider because they will form part of the contract between you and will be important to ensure that your child's needs are met.
Other sources of information on a childcarer
Parents might also be able to find out more about their potential childcare provider's identity online. For example, social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may give a useful insight into the childcarer's online activities - are they on social media throughout the day? Do they talk about the children and families for whom they currently work? If you are looking for a live-in nanny does their online persona reflect the type of person you want living in your house?
Try searching on Google for the childcare provider's name to see what you can find out about them. Carrying out your own research like this can often provide much greater insight into a person and are useful when combined with more official checks such as DBS checks and references.
Childminders are often registered with their local Family Information Service which offers another source of information about the provider which parents can easily access.
More advice on how to stay safe
Please read our Taking Responsibility statement for more advice on how to stay safe when using our service. We also have lots more free FAQ's on our website.