Sometimes, the government is accused of consulting for the sake of it and not listening to the responses. On occasion there may be some truth in this, particularly where a prominent, expensive policy is concerned. In truth however, consultations are often useful exercises, resulting in decisions being made on the evidence of people in the know. In 2016 the government consulted on whether the rules around disqualification by association should change. The childcare sector overwhelmingly indicated that they should and the government has now announced that they shall.
Disqualification by association refers to the present law that if a person lives with someone who is disqualified from working with children for any reason, that person too becomes disqualified. It is possible to apply for a waiver from Ofsted, but this is a lengthy process and can cause severe difficulties to childcare settings in the meantime. Disqualifications can seem to come out of the blue. Not all partners tell each-other everything about themselves and there is no formal way to find out; providers cannot DBS check the families of their staff. A chance disclosure therefore can mean a childcare worker finding themselves disqualified from their job.
This shall now change. The government has announced that from September, the disqualification by association rules will not apply to non-domestic childcare workers. This, it was felt, was a better response than the other two alternatives that would have tried to make it easier to appeal or apply for a waiver. However, for safety reasons, the rule will still apply to Childminders, as their cohabitants may still come into direct contact with minded children.
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