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Babysitting and Childcare

There is no law which states the minimum age that a child can be left alone but it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts the child at risk. The NSPCC recommend that most children under 13 should not be left for more than a short period and that no child under 16 should be left overnight. They suggest that parents consider the following before deciding to leave a child alone:

  • the age of the child
  • the child's level of maturity and understanding
  • the place where the child will be left
  • how long the child will be left alone, and how often
  • whether or not there are any other children in the household

Further advice on good practices when leaving children alone can be obtained by looking at www.rospa.com or www.nspcc.org.uk (search for babysitting) or by ringing the NSPCC helpline on 0800 800 5000.

The Family Information Service (FIS) has a list of babysitters/agencies. If you would like a copy to be sent in the post or emailed, please contact them on 01628 685632 or email fis@rbwm.gov.uk. In addition, some childminders do provide babysitting services for children on an ad hoc basis. The FIS can provide contact details on these childminders. Parents may also wish to find a sitter by asking a friend or a relative with children for a recommendation or by looking in the Yellow Pages or searching the web for babysitting agencies. Should you use a babysitting agency, it is important that you are clear as to how they vet their sitters, for example, do they interview and take up references and do they complete a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau)?

Both the NSPCC and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommend that babysitters should be over 16 years of age and that parents ask for at least two references and contact the referees themselves. RoSPA also suggest that parents complete "risk assessments" and think through all possible eventualities before leaving their children with a babysitter. Further tips on good practices when using a babysitter are available from both the NSPCC and RoSPA - contact details as above.

If think you might benefit from any service provided by Social Services and you would like us to contact you by phone or email, please click the following link and complete the Social Services Contact Us/Self Referral Online Form and someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Please refer to the Family Information Service for more information.

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Modified: 2015-04-17
Published: Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:44:37
Author: Simon Arthur
Editor: Simon.Arthur
RDCMS ID: 6955