Yet another headline, yet another drip drip piece of information, yet another nail in the coffin of registered childminding   10 comments

I switched on the computer at lunch time – and straight away wished I hadn’t as I was greeted with this headline on the screen

Unemployed parents to be turned into childminders

You can read the article here Link to article in Children and Young People Now

My heart sank because the very title shouts out ‘Anyone can be a childminder’

Maybe it is just a headline grabbing comment but the damage has been done – childminders have responded with anger and dismay on social media, those who don’t understand the requirements to become a childminder will be thinking that indeed anyone can become a childminder – that childminding is a low skill job,  reinforcing all those negative images of childminders that as a profession we have been working so hard, over so many years  to dispel.

Progress was being made especially since the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2008 when significant gains were made in the general perception of childminding, the professional standing of childminders among other early years professionals – and indeed in the number of childminders gaining the top Ofsted judgments and achieving higher qualifications.

However, since  Wilshaw, Gove and Gregory have made their remarks about the abilities of childminders and Truss has suggested that childminders should become part of childminding agencies – the tide has turned again and professional registered childminders such as myself are having to continually counter negative comments and challenge government perceptions.

And why – because the government want to save money and be seen to support parents and increase the number of childcare places especially for the 2 year olds – but instead of consulting about possible ways to do this (such as increasing the fee paid to Ofsted, or charging the market rate for training and actually listening to those who understand childminding) – they have instead dived head first into More Great Childcare with consultation that is designed to achieve the answers the government wants – so they can say they have consulted – when in fact, it is very clear to everyone that the proposals in More Great Childcare will go ahead.

Getting back to the headline that has caused me to write this blog

Why do the government, Barnardo’s and Pacey (all mentioned in the article) think that this scheme will work?

First – in the population as a whole there is a % that will never be able to become registered childminders – due to police records, suitability of housing, type of pets kept, mental health issues, physical health issues, social services concerns about children in the family, number of own children under five and since the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage 2012, an ability for spoken and written English. Therefore commonsense should tell us that those who access the services of a children’s center will have at least the same  % likelihood of not meeting the requirements of registration – if not higher due to the difficulties often faced by those living in areas of disadvantage.

I think it is unfair to raise people’s hopes and to imply that can earn a living from being a childminder – without telling them the requirements and potential issues.

Second – I am surprised at Barnardo’s  because as a charity they are very aware of the circumstances of those using their children’s centers service and the difficulties they face. A lot of their work is about supporting parents with basic childcare skills and with confidence in themselves – not in my opinion ideal childminder applicants. Of course, I am not saying that none of the parents will make good childminders – of course a % will, and they should be supported to register but by following the same route as anyone else wanting to become a childminder.

Third – I am concerned about the E learning route – as someone who has trained childminders in the past and supported many through the process of becoming a childminder in my previous employment with a local authority – I know that face to face training and support is much more effective. Distance learning has always been an option but this has been backed up in the past by support from childminding development officers – this support is unlikely to be available in the future.

Fourth – I am very confused about the involvement of PACEY (until recently NCMA) because they have stated very clearly that they support Professor Nutbrown’s recommendation that childminders should have a level three qualification in the future – and furthermore that childminding is a profession – as can be seen in this article on their website link to Pacey website. So why are they supporting this initiative?

Fifth – I have a feeling (more than a feeling) that those children’s centers that are selected to offer this scheme – will also become childminding agencies and that those who do become childminders will have to join the agency – and even that will be employed rather than self employed -(does overcome some of the issues of ensuring the business side of childminding is dealt with and also that training is accessed) However although I am sure that to start with funding will cover the costs, before long the agency will want to cover costs and even make a profit because even charities like Barnardo’s and Pacey need an income to cover their overheads.

Which brings me to my sixth issue – If my ‘gut feeling’ is right about agencies how can Pacey – who have stated very clearly that they are against agencies be involved in this scheme?

So those are some of my concerns and initial thoughts HOWEVER a word of caution;

This may just be a headline grabbing comment – and becoming a childminder may just be one of a range of options for unemployed parents

Pacey and Barnardo’s have yet to comment – so final personal opinion will be withheld until they do

HOWEVER this drip, drip of information has, and is continuing to cause a lot of worry and stress – and it has to be  said a fair amount of depression. So much so  that the government is in danger of  losing a lot of very good childminders who are running very successful small businesses and providing the highest quality early years care and education – Is this what the government want?

My plea to the government is you seem  determined to implement your proposals – you clearly have far more information available than you are releasing by this drip, drip method – please just get it over and done with and tell us EVERYTHING now.

People, including myself, are jumping to conclusions and worrying just what you will drip feed us next  ——

…….maybe agency childminders won’t have to deliver EYFS???

…….maybe the fee for those who want to remain independent will be so high that we will be priced out of the market????

……..maybe that training will only be available through an agency or at a price an individual childminder can not afford????

… maybe the government just wants parents to have a choice of group care or glorified baby sitters managed through an agency????

Who knows – I am only guessing and those guesses  are made through fear that myself and my childminding colleagues that want to remain independent do not fit your future criteria of ‘a childminder’

You – the government can put a stop to all this speculation , rumours  and worry by issuing  your full and detailed proposals NOW

We are not fooled by your drip, drip approach – we know that these things do not happen overnight – we know for example this funding for the scheme announced today was not discussed over breakfast today and announced at lunch time – it has taken months to reach this point.

Please treat us with professional respect.

10 responses to “Yet another headline, yet another drip drip piece of information, yet another nail in the coffin of registered childminding

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  1. Great, blog Penny! When I worked in a LA we gave out grants to childminders registering. The majority of these never childminded and/or gave up fairly soon after registering.

    Online training has its benefits, but, must be backed up by face-to-face training and support. Especially, safeguarding children.
    Why, not invest in current childminders. Why have this incentive, when there are other solutions out there is crazy.

    Childminding is a profession and should be treated as so. We need to think about the children’s needs, rather than getting parents off benefits!

    • I found the same Laura when I worked for the La – grants attracted the wrong people. I went to visit one person for a pre registration support visit – not content with a grant to start up – she wanted to know if she would be able to access Capital funding as she wanted to do some home improvements!

  2. I read this article earlier today and said exactly the same as you. I hold 2 level 3’s one the NNEB and have had no enquiries for ages so where are all these new enquiries coming from. I was also dismayed by reading that PACEY are involved in this scheme – could this possibly be why they have been so quiet about everything so far.

  3. Why indeed are PACEY backing this?

    They should be looking out for the interests if childminders and setting standards for quality. What kind of professional association actively participates in deprofessionalising the sector? Because that is ultimately what this will do through people who aren’t a actively interested in giving children a great start in life, people who think it’s easy and will do the bare minimum, people who are motivated by money and people who are being told it’s childminding or benefits.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but I fear I’m not.

  4. Pacey have issued the following statement
    We wanted to make clear to PACEY members that this joint project with Barnardos is not looking to develop a model for a childminder agency. As you know PACEY does not support this policy proposal and, indeed as part of finalizing the arrangements for our joint working with Barnardos, we have made this clear. We have ensured there are contractual measures (KPIs) included in the project plan submitted to the DFE that focus on the importance of parents who participate being supported to prepare for their individual inspection and secure a grade.

    We actually hope this exciting project is a way to demonstrate to government, local authorities and regulators that you do not need a third party agency to support individuals into the profession and that there are other more effective ways to collectively support prospective childminders.

    We always work to ensure our members are the first to hear about our new plans and developments. Unfortunately on this occasion we were not told by the DfE that they intended to publicise these projects in advance of our finalizing our contract with Barnardos and others. We plan to publicise our involvement with this and other DfE funded projects in the next week.

  5. I fully agree with you. The national union for teachers (NUT) are also facing grave challenges presented by this government. There is talk of a rally taking place and they are welcoming anyone who has concerns. Shall we join forces? This way, we may be heard? What do you think? Clare Cross, registered childminder of ten years.

  6. Penny, your eloquent summary of concerns around this proposal were excellent to read. I will keep my response short and sweet currently, as to be honest my passion for quality childminding is starting to blend into utter disbelief and may I say tentatively ‘fury’. I really cannot believe that with one hand support, training and advice is being removed completely from the childminding sector (to save millions supposedly) and another hand is throwing money at a ‘new’ (it’s really not new, this has been trialled many times previously as you have all acknowledged without success) initiative to get more childminders on board. There are many excellent experienced and skilled Registered Childminders in the field with vacancies already – why quantity over quality again?!

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