Objectives and accessibility
Childminders (assistant-es maternel-les) provide most of the ECEC for the younger group of children. Childminders are approved by the regional authorities (départment) and paid directly by the parents.
The article L421-3 of the Code of social action and families states that "approval is granted (...) if the reception conditions guarantee the safety, health and development of minors (...) welcomed, taking into account the educational aptitudes of the person ", by specifying that the general council can" adapt the criteria of approval to meet specific needs ".
Compensation for the costs incurred by families for the care of their child by a childminder is available. Part of the costs is reimbursed through the Childcare supplement of the Childcare allowance calculated according to the family income.
In addition, companies can also grant the financial aid mentioned in Article L7233-4 of the Code of Labour to their employees. The maximum amount of aid is €1830 per year. Finally, the municipalities and départements may decide to provide additional allowances, such as the Allocation Municipale de Garde d'Enfant in some communes. When they exist, these allowances have amounts and criteria for allocation that vary significantly.
Requirements for childminders and child ratios
In order to practise and receive children in their own home, childminders must apply for approval from the départment in which they live. The criteria for approval emphasise the availability of the candidate, as well as the candidate’s aptitude for communication and dialogue, ability to take into account the particular needs of each child, knowledge of his/her role and housing conditions. Training is compulsory to obtain approval as a childminder. This training is free of charge and is organised and financed by the départment's services.
The training enables the childminder to acquire the following skills and knowledge:
- Psycho-affective and physical safety, including training in first aid, hygiene care, child comfort, continuity of reference points between family life and reception, support for the child's development, fulfilment, awakening, socialisation and autonomy;
- Knowledge of the rights and duties of the profession, contractual relationship with the employer and measures necessary to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of the childcare worker;
- Early childcare arrangements, legal, sociological and institutional framework of the child, the family and knowledge of the missions and responsibilities of the childcare worker in terms of safety, health and development of the child.
The training has a total duration of 120 hours. The first 80 hours of training are provided before the reception of a child within 6 months of receipt of the complete application file. An assessment of the training acquired is carried out by the départment's services or a training organisation. Validation of the first part of the training is equivalent to authorisation to receive a child. The last 40 hours of training are provided within a maximum of 3 years from the time the first child is admitted. An assessment of the learning outcomes of the training is carried out by the départment's services or a training organisation. Validation of the second part of the training programme entails the issue of a certificate of completion of the two courses.
The future childminder may be partly exempted from this training if he or she holds the CAP "Accompagnement éducatif petite enfance" (or the former CAP "Petite enfance"). However, no dispensation may be granted for the parts of the training dealing with first aid and childcare facilities.
Each childminder must respect the number of children provided for in his or her accreditation, which is renewed every five years. According to Article L421-4 of the French Code of Social Action and Families, the number of minors cared for simultaneously may not exceed four children of less than three years, including the childminder’s child(ren), up to a maximum of six minors of all ages in total.