#OfstedBigConversation

Childminding Agencies

Author: Katy Morton,

The education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has suggested that parents who use childminder agencies will have to pay a fee.

The childcare minister has hinted that parents will have to pay to use childminder agencies
The childcare minister has hinted that parents will have to pay to use childminder agencies
At the second reading of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords, Baroness Hughes of Stretford stated, ‘The childcare minister said last week that the agencies would be responsible for the training and development but there would be no new money.’The Baroness added, ‘She envisaged that the cost would be passed to parents, but we know that the high cost of childcare is currently very difficult for parents to meet.’The proposals to charge parents a fee for using childminder agencies, similar to nanny agencies, go against the aims of ‘More Great Childcare’ to make childcare more affordable and available for families and increase the quality of provision.During the reading, concerns were also raised over how agencies will be inspected by Ofsted.Under Government plans, only a cross-section of childminders registered with an agency will be inspected.

As you will already know, recent media attention has been focused on the Department of Education’s report, ‘More Great Childcare: Raising Quality & Giving Parents More Choice’.

The main topic of discussion has been the changes to ratios, which has not proved favorable among childcare professionals. But what about about childminder agencies?!

According to the Department of Education, childminder agencies are going to be ‘one-stop-shops’, that will help childminders with training, business support, advice and finding suitable parents.

Advantages for childminders include:

1. Help with matching childminders and parents together

2. Removing some of the burdens of registration for childminders

3. A support network and a more secure way of working

4. Help with handling day to day issues and emergencies

Advantages for parents include:

1. Finding it easier to secure a suitable place for their child

2. Support on a range of issues and help if any problems emerge with their childminder

3. Reassurance of knowing that the agency is registered with and inspected by Ofsted

4. Knowing that their childminder is suitably qualified

5. Help handling day to day issues and emergencies

The NCMA, are unsupportive of the agency model, because so many of it’s members have raised significant concerns about the impact it would have on parental confidence in childminding, their status as professionals and so their business sustainability!

The NMMA, commented:

‘Agencies also do not recognise the reasons why most childminders stay in the profession for so long. They enjoy the freedom and benefits that being self-employed bring. Childminders can decide what services they offer, the hours they work and which families they provide childcare to. So, whilst for some there may be an attraction to having the agency undertake certain paperwork, provide training and support, the critical issue will be what is expected of the childminder in return? How much autonomy will they be required to give up? How much will they be charged for this service? Especially when most of it they can do for themselves’.

‘So, In light of our members’ strong opposition to the concept of an agency approach to their regulation and inspection and the concerns we have received from parents, NCMA remains unsupportive of the government’s plan for agency models and will not be involved in their development, if they are legislated’.

In response to the concerns that agencies could drive up costs for staff and jeopardise professional autonomy, Simona McKenzie has established ‘The Independent Childminder’s Focus Group‘!

Simona McKenzie said:

‘The aim of the focus group is to attract as many childminders as possible so that we are absolutely crystal clear as to the meaning of remaining independent, costs related to registration and individual inspections. We will also seek clarification on the implications of registering with an agency. Numerous concerns have been raised about the quality and potentially a two-tier service’.

According to Yvette Oliver-Mighten from @HomeChildcare‘The Government’s recommendation to develop Childminder Agencies, will allow childminders to deliver better care’.

We are really interested in your views, on the introduction of childminder agencies! Are you for or against them? Share your comments here with us and participate in our Childminder Agencies Poll.

Source: Parenta.com

Author:  Elizabeth Truss, Education Minister,

The agencies being introduced by the Children and Families Bill will support great childminders and encourage more to enter the profession, says Education Minister Elizabeth Truss

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of a childminder’s job. They are responsible for the safety of someone infinitely precious, and provide some of their vital early years education. Good childminders give parents peace of mind and allow them to consider pursuing a career safe in the knowledge that their son or daughter is in good hands.Quality childcare is something that any government should prioritise, and childminders are an essential component – many families rely on the flexibility they offer, others depend on them in places where nursery provision is limited, and some simply prefer home-based care. This is proving harder and harder to come by as the number of childminders has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years, putting a good childminder out of reach of many parents.I am as eager to encourage talented people to enter the profession as I am that great childminders shouldn’t leave it. That’s why we are introducing childminder agencies, which will be one-stop shops and offer a far simpler route into the job.

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