Childminding in France

By Miriam O’Reagan

Regulated since 1977, a registered childminder looks after young children up to 6 years of age, who are not attending school.   In fact, after parents, childminding is the leading form of childcare in France for children 0-3 years: in 2022, 24% of children under 3 years of age were cared for by a childminder, and another 2% were with a nanny at home.  There were 237,000 active childminders caring for 569,000 children under three in 2022, and the Department of Families allocated €5.238 billion to subsidize families using registered childminders or in-home care, as well as funding early childhood resource centres for childminders and local toy libraries (Observatoire National de la Petite Enfance, 2023).    

A registered childminder looks after young children up to 6 years of age, usually children who are not in school. S/he registers with the local maternal and child protection services (PMI); this registration is renewed every five years. The childminder’s registration specifies the number of children allowed in the home (in full-time equivalent), up to a maximum of six children, including her own up to 11 years old.  The PMI also provides initial compulsory training for childminders, which is currently 120 hours, half of which must be completed within six months of registration, and the other half within two years of taking on her first minded child (Unterreiner, 2018).  

Typically, childminders are married mothers in their forties, paid by private employers, who agree their own working hours and rates of pay in an employment contract with parents. They are usually recruited by the PMI as mothers of young children while accessing services for their own children.  Although they are subject to market demand, since the 2000s, their employment conditions have improved considerably: they are better trained, enjoy the same social welfare rights as employees, and are more capable of negotiating their own working conditions, thanks to a powerful federation of childminding trade unions and associations (Collombet & Unterreiner, 2019). 

Childminders are guaranteed the minimum wage by law, currently €11.65 per hour, which includes paid leave. In fact, they may charge up to five times as much and still be subsidised. This does not include costs such as food, insurance, or travel, which are subsidized separately. The average net annual salary in 2022 was €14,600. For parents, the free choice of childcare supplement (CMG) offers means-tested financial aid to parents with a child under 6 years of age using a childminder, in-homecare, or a micro-crèche, where a group of registered childminders work together.  

There are two types of childminders: 

Registered childminders employed by private employers, who work either in their own home or, since 2010, may also work in family homes or in a micro-crèche. 

Employed childminders, who are employed by family crèches. These structures employ certified childminders who take in one to four children, usually under the age of 4, in their homes.  Group meetings are offered on the premises of the local crèche. 

Local Resource Centres for Early Childhood (RPE) are places which provide information, meetings, networking and workshops for childminders and parents. The RPEs started in 1989, supporting over 150,000 childminders in 1992. By 2019, 248,508 active registered childminders were supported by 3,440 full time equivalent (FTE) facilitators using 3,182 centres across France (Observatoire de la petite enfance, 2020).  

Collombet, C., & Unterreiner, A. (2019). France’s registered childminders: many roadblocks to professionalization. December, 1–30. 

Observatoire de la petite enfance. (2020). L’accueil du jeune enfant en 2019

Observatoire National de la Petite Enfance. (2023). L’accueil des jeunes enfants Édition 2023

Unterreiner, A. (2018). Les assistantes maternelles au quotidien. Un travail invisible rythmé par différentes fonctions d’accueil du jeune enfant. Revue Des Politiques Sociales et Familiales, 126(1), 75–82. https://doi.org/10.3406/caf.2018.3267 

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