Childminding UK Members have their say on Early Years Reform

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Childminding UK Members have their say on Early Years Reform 

Childminding UK has been supporting childminders for over 30 years. Formed in 1991 by and for local working childminders in Northamptonshire, we now support childminders across the country. A registered charity, we are the only national organisation that solely supports childminders and we have recently achieved the Princess Royal Training Award for ‘Ensuring high quality childcare through training and support’. All staff and trustees are experienced childcare professionals, staff have been childminders themselves and the majority of trustees are working childminders, so we have a good understanding of the sector.

Childminding numbers have reduced significantly over recent years according to Ofsted figures with a fall of 7% between August 2021 and March 2022. Historically, childminding is a transient profession but with numbers remaining reasonably static. Sensible measures to reverse this trend should be investigated to enable parents to have the option of good quality regulated home from home childcare that is the uniqueness of childminding.

Following a government consultation on the relaxation of childcare ratios, other areas to deregulate childcare and reduce childcare costs, we carried out a survey of our members to ask their views. We received a higher than average response rate and responses show the depth of unease and worry among our members, ranging from those who are in the registration process and others being registered for over 10 years.
The main focus of our survey was:
The reduction or removal of ratios and any resulting impact on quality or parents' fees
The requirement to register with a Childminding Agency
Changing the way early years is funded- including allowing parents to use Government funding to pay grandparents or friends

Over 60% said they believed the care and edcuation they offer children would be reduced if they cared for additional children with over 88% stating they would not care for additional children even if policy is changed. Of those who said they would consider caring for additional children, only 13 respondents said they would reduce parents’ fees. One stated ‘‘Why would anybody work harder for less money?’

Childminders currently have a choice of registering with Ofsted or a Childminding Agency. Agencies have been around since 2013, with around 3% of the childminding workforce choosing Agency registration. Over 53% of Members stated they would give up childminding if they were made to register with an Agency, making the government’s aim to increase numbers of childminders much more difficult. The reasons Members gave were mainly that they value their Ofsted inspection grading and that they want to be totally independent. One respondent commented that remaining with Ofsted ‘keeps it professional’.

We asked Members if they would support a view that funding for childcare places be paid directly to parents instead of the childcare provider and that parents should be able to pay grandparents or friends to provide childcare. Overwhelmingly, nearly 80% of Members disagreed with this. Members cited concerns that some parents would use funding for other purposes and not pay their childminder. Many also cited safeguarding concerns if unregistered, untrained people were providing childcare. With no suitability process to go through. One said ‘using unregistered care/uninspected premises will increase accidents/abuse like we have never seen before’.

Childminding UK believes that childminding is an attractive option for parents and children but also as a viable career option that needs to be regulated to be safe and effective.
Our full survey report has been forwarded to government ministers, members of parliament, the Children’s Commissioner and others. We will continue to seek our members views and help government hear the voices of childminders as they make decisions on the future of childcare provision in England. 

Childminding UK Contact Details:
Enquiry Line 01536 210685