A drop in the number of childminders across Bath and North East Somerset is prompting calls for more people to consider it as a career.

The number of registered childminders across the authority has dropped over the past four years reflecting the national trend which has seen the number of registered childminders across the country drop by a fifth over the past four years.

Childminding, which is crucial to the local economy, provides direct employment and enables people to work or study while their children are cared for in a safe environment. More registered childminders are needed right across Bath and North East Somerset, but there is a particular need in Bath, Chew Valley and Radstock.

Councillor Kevin Guy, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said, “Childminders make a huge contribution to the local economy providing quality, flexible childcare without which many parents and carers would not be able to work, train or study. It can also be an extremely rewarding career offering the opportunity to become self-employed and earn a living by caring for other people’s children while caring for your own children in your own home. There are also the added benefits of being your own boss and choosing your own working hours.”

Childminders provide a safe, fun, nurturing environment for children to learn and develop skills for life. They run their own business and are registered by Ofsted to care for up to six children under the age of eight in their own home.

Childminders are able to:

• Plan their own working pattern
• Fit childminding around their own family’s needs
• Offer flexible childcare to suit parents needs
• Can offer government funded childcare

Many childminders offer early mornings,school drop off and wrap around care, as well as full and part time places. Childminders can take children in receipt of the Early Years Entitlement and currently across Bath and North East Somerset 68 registered childminders offer this funding to 237 children aged from two to four years old.

Jo, a childminder in Weston, said, “My favourite part about being a childminder is following the children’s interests and being able to provide fabulous opportunities to them such as intergenerational groups, forest school sessions, monthly visits to the children’s theatre, farms, parks, zoo, woodland walks, museums and so much more. We make excellent use of the local communities around us.

“During my time as a childminder I have been lucky enough to work with some wonderful children and watch them grow from babies into young adults throughout their time with me and be a big part of their lives and their families.

“I have worked with many different families and the gratification you get from helping a child in need or with particular needs is the reason I do my job.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Early Years Service offers a package of support to newly registering childminders. To find out more or talk to a member of the Childminding Team, click here or email email hidden; JavaScript is required

Information on local childminders can be found in the local family information directory by visiting www.bathnes1bd.org.uk