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The difference between registering with Ofsted or a childminder agency

Childminder with three children doing arts and crafts.

Yvette explains what a childminder agency (CMA) is and the difference between registering with one instead of Ofsted.

So, you’ve made the leap and decided to become a childminder. But who should you register with?

Did you know that childminders can register with either Ofsted or a CMA? This blog explains the main differences between the two, to help you decide which route you want to take.

What are CMAs?

CMAs are private companies that register childminders as an alternative to registering with Ofsted. They choose their own business model and create a bespoke service for their childminders. They can also register providers of childcare on domestic premises – 4 or more childminders working together. More information about what CMAs are responsible for and what they have to do legally is on GOV.UK.

Ofsted inspects CMAs, and you can find all of the reports for the agencies we have inspected so far on our reports website. CMAs can make use of 2 official Ofsted logos, one which says they are registered and one which says they have been inspected and have been judged to be effective.

Image of Ofsted's childminder agency registered logo and childminder agency effective logo.

We inspect them to make sure that they are complying with the regulatory requirements. As part of this, we visit a sample of the CMA’s registered providers to assess the level of support being offered. We do not inspect individual childminders registered with agencies – that’s down to the agencies themselves, who quality assure their registered providers every year.

You can find the list of CMAs open to applications on the Department for Education (DfE)’s website.

The Foundation Years website also includes further information about registering with an agency, and becoming a CMA.

If you decide you want to register with a CMA, you might want to find out more about each of them to figure out which one will work for you. CMAs have their own fee structures and offer different levels of support, including administrative and financial support to help you get started as a new business quickly.

Differences between registering with Ofsted and a CMA

If you register with Ofsted, you will organise your own support, finances, record-keeping and all general administrative tasks involved with managing your own business. You will have to pay an annual fee and you will receive your first inspection usually within 30 months, and then every 6 years afterwards as a maximum. There are no additional costs for registering with Ofsted.

If you register with an agency, you’ll still be a self-employed childminder running your own business, but you’ll have additional support when it comes to regulation, safeguarding, finance, continuing professional development (CPD), marketing and finding new clients. Partnering with an agency typically involves paying a monthly fee or a percentage of your earnings in exchange for this support.

Graphic showing the difference between registering with Ofsted and with a childminder agency. Registering with Ofsted would mean that: • Fees are between £35 and £103 • Childminders would be inspected at least once every six years • Childminders must organise their own professional development • Ofsted offers no other services Registering with a childminder agency would mean that: • The agency would set its own fees • It would carry out quality assurance visits, one or more per year • It must provide practice support for its registered providers, including CPD • It can offer a range of additional services, such as invoicing or help finding clients

We are always striving for continuous improvement, and so we regularly meet with representatives from CMAs along with the DfE to improve our ways of working together. You can keep up to date on new developments through the Organisation for Childminder Agencies (OFCMA) website or on Ofsted’s Childcare Registration Facebook page.

What CMAs have told us

Some of the CMAs that are registered with us have shared a bit about their agency below:

Brett Wigdortz, tiney

‘tiney is a new breed of modern childminder agency. We give childminders the upfront training and tools to supercharge their business, plus the long-term support and professional community to help their careers thrive. Our childminders rate us 9.7 out of 10 for satisfaction and we’re the fastest growing childminding community in England. Parents also love tiney because of our modern app and easy approach to payments and contracts.’

Claire Chapman, SCA Childcare

‘What our childminders love about SCA is the fact that many of the team are still active as childminders, therefore they know the advice and support we provide comes from a place of experience and a passion for providing the best start in life for our children.

We not only provide regular support, training and networking opportunities for SCA registered childminders but also to other professionals working in childcare. We can offer registration both on domestic and non-domestic premises.’

Yvette Oliver-Mighten, @Home Childcare

@Home Childcare is a social enterprise. Our social mission is to empower suitable people to fulfil their dream of setting up and running a high-quality childcare service at home. Part of our vision is for parents to recognise that home settings are great places for children to get the best start in life.

Registering with @Home Childcare enables self-employed childminders to benefit from intensive support to be a part of a professional community that provides start-up and business planning support, personal mentors, annual inspections and on-going training. We enjoy helping childminders grow and develop sustainable childcare businesses that children will enjoy and thrive in. This is our passion, why we love doing what we do!

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