Starting a childcare business
Providing high quality care and education for young children is enormously rewarding.
It provides a much-needed service for local communities and, most importantly, makes a huge difference to the development and well-being of children.
Research the need
Before starting up your childcare business it is important to assess what the demand for a new childcare provision is likely to be.
You will need to take various steps such as:
- Creating opportunities to talk to parents informally, for instance, in local baby and toddler groups, libraries or through surveys.
- Finding out what’s already available through childcare audits carried out by every local authority.
- Viewing details on parents’ use of childcare and their views and experiences through the Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents.
- Contacting your local Family Information Service for lists of other providers in the area with their hours of operation.
You can register with your local authority to claim funding to provide part-time early years education places for three and four-year-old children, and eligible two-year-old children.
You may offer the funded places as 15 hours a week, either as five hours over three days or three hours over five days.
Some three and four-year-olds will also be eligible for a 30 hours funded place. You can register to provide for this at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
If you will be looking after children under the age of eight years for more than two hours a day you will need to register with The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). If you are a childminder, you can choose either to register with Ofsted or with a Childminder Agency. Ofsted inspects and regulates the quality and standards of care and education in childcare provision.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage is a mandatory framework for all Ofsted registered childcare providers caring for children from birth to five years. It was developed to ensure that all childcare services provide a safe and secure environment for children and support children’s learning through carefully planned play activities that are fun and appropriate to their needs.
Childcare may be provided on domestic premises (for example, in the home of a childminder) or on non-domestic premises (such as a pre-school in a community hall or nursery on a school site). The premises that you operate from must comply with the EYFS requirements. In choosing premises you will also need to consider whether the building is in a good state of repair, if it is safe and secure for the children, whether appropriate toilet and kitchen facilities are available, whether the premises are easy for families to get to and whether they are accessible to children and adults with disabilities.
Health and safety
The safety of the children and adults in the provision is a central theme throughout the EYFS. You will have a duty to develop effective procedures for ensuring that the provision is secure and that any risks are identified and managed through regular risk assessments; safeguarding and protecting children from harm or abuse; maintaining high standards of hygiene; regularly checking fire procedures and equipment.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) you will need to put systems in place to ensure any personal data you collect is securely processed, stored and destroyed. You will also need to issue those whose personal data you collect, such as parents, employees and volunteers with a privacy notice.
Childcare providers must have adequate insurance cover. Some forms of insurance are required by law or for Ofsted registration, such as public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance (where applicable). Others are not legally required but are still necessary because they provide protection for the provision and for those that use and are responsible for it.
Safeguarding and child protection
Every provider is required to have and implement a safeguarding children policy and procedures which follows the guidance and procedures of the local safeguarding partners. Safeguarding policies and procedures should also address the needs of young people and vulnerable adults who have contact with the setting.
As an employer, you will need to take steps to ensure that your employees, job applicants, service users and volunteers are treated in a fair and consistent manner. Everyone has certain legal rights, including the right not to be discriminated or harassed on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, or sex.
Inclusion and diversity
For the benefit of all staff and families, equality and inclusion must be embraced throughout your provision. The Equality Act 2010 requires childcare providers to ensure their policies, procedures and practices promote equality of opportunity and prevent discrimination towards children and adults in the provision.
Providers also have a duty to regard the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (DfE 2015) when meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities and developing a special educational needs policy.
Thinking of starting a new childcare provision?
* Download our free mini guide to Setting up a Childcare Provision which advises on key choices and responsibilities to consider before you start.
* Read Ofsted's updated guidance on setting up a childcare service.
* Our website is full of key information to keep you up to date with developments in legislation and best practice — just visit our Business Management section.
* Or for more in-depth information, browse our books and early years resources in our online shop.
* Starting a baby and toddler group? Read our How to start a baby and toddler group page.
* Whatever your role in early years education, joining the Alliance will help you on your journey.
* Alliance members can contact our experienced Information Service Team, which offers free, independent and professional advice.