The Government claim they value registered childminders – Really?   5 comments

Before you start to read this blog – Penny needs to make it clear that these are her personal thoughts and opinions and not those of any organisation or association that she is a member of, or associated with.

Penny has asked similar questions before, however the things she read in the media suggests that the Government do value childminders and want to encourage more childminders

However looking at the bigger picture and taking lots of  information into consideration (that may not appear related), Penny now has a more specific question;

‘ Are the Government intending to end registered childminding in its present format – and replace with something totally different?’

First we have the whole agency proposal and the removal of individual Ofsted inspections, and instead,  the registering and inspecting childminders via childminding agencies . Childminding agencies will be  taking on the role of support, and guidance, and as we know – all childminding agencies will be able to set their own terms and conditions – or as the Government prefer to say ‘their own model’  It would not take a huge leap to have childminding agencies that had standard policies and procedures, documentation for  recording learning and development – and who knows maybe a comprehensive pre set curriculum with every child  attending a childminder setting that is part of the agency, doing the same things at the same time as all the other children attending that agencies childminding settings. Maybe agency childminders will also have to open for a set number of hours, charge a set fee and so on

Penny must stress that this is all just speculation on her part – but having read about agencies in other countries – all of the above are aspects that are in place in other countries – and so who is to say they will not be implemented in this country.

Penny acknowledges that some childminders will welcome this kind of service – and so will some parents BUT is it registered childminding where each setting is different, where parents, childminders and the children are able to make choices and have a service that meets their individual needs – or is it more like a childcare franchise? In fact what is there to stop an agency operating like a franchise?

So all in all – a change to how registered childminders may operate in the future

Second we have the whole Hubs idea – where childminders could be part of a Hub run by a Children’s Center, or a school, or a nursery – and where it is very clear that childminders are seen as being ideal to provide the wrap around element – so the hours when schools / nurseries/ Children’s Centers are closed – in other words the anti social hours,/ the hours when it is not financially viable for those running the Hub to be open. Another role for childminders could be the transportation between different settings – so in effect a taxi service – again often not financially viable for nurseries, schools or Children’s Centers to provide.

Third, add to this the proposed relaxation of planning requirements – this is not going to be much help to childminders as they operate from their family home, usually in residential areas – so hardly a surplus of empty commercial buildings. Planning for any extension to their family home would be subject to the normal planning requirements in residential areas – and the final problem – if a childminder did extend and operate from other premises that they did not live, they would be not be classed as childminders – and if they do live in a large enough house to expand their service if more that 3 staff are needed at any one time (including the childminder) they would not be classed as childminders but as childcare on domestic premises.

In Penny’s opinion, increasing group care setting size and number of settings –  if not not backed by market research could lead to childminders have more competition for available business and potentially sustainability issues – although of course new markets could become available if these group settings become Hubs – and have a need to involve childminders to provide the wrap around element.

Fourth and perhaps the biggest threat to registered childminding –  is going to be the charges to the rules about those who are self employed and who claim Universal Tax Credits.

With new proposed rules about submitting evidence of earnings on a monthly basis and a minimum income requirement, many registered childminders will no longer be able to claim these tax credits.

Not because they don’t work hard or even a minimum number of hours but for the following reasons;

They have under five’s of their own so are limited by regulations about how many children they can look after

They have part time children on role who produced part time pay

They have other commitments such as caring for elderly relatives

And Penny is sure many other reasons not stated here

However a double whammy will be that some of childminders clients  are also self employed and have chosen a childminder because of the flexibility  of hours and personal service as the needs of their business change. These clients may also not meet the requirements of the proposed new rules for universal tax credits, and so they may not be able to continue with their business – therefore not need childcare – and therefore both businesses could close.

Then there are those clients that use childminders who are teachers – and who currently do not pay for childcare in the school holidays – maybe because the childminder chooses to spend time with their own children during the holidays – and it is therefore a mutually beneficial agreement BUT under the new rules the childminder would not earn enough during the school holidays – the only way round it would be to charge teachers (and others who do not work all year) for the childcare place all year – thus putting up the cost of childcare for those parents.

Then there are the times when a childminder will hold a place open – without payment of a retainer or for a small retainer when parents are on maternity leave – thus reducing the childminders income for a number of months – and potentially their ‘right’ to claim tax credits.

Therefore Penny thinks that registered childminding as we know it, is going to change – we will lose the flexibility that childminders provide re hours and fees, we will lose those personal decisions about if to charge when place not being used (many childminders take the long term view and the yearly income – not a week by week financial decision),

Ironically the idea of Hubs and childminders providing the wrap around element could also not be sustainable because if childminders choose to provide only these hours – either because it suits them or because the group settings that have extended have absorbed the available market share – then they also won’t earn enough to be able to claim universal tax credits.

Add to this the underlying messages about those without the required qualifications, the Government view that formal learning is ‘best’ – Penny can see that registered childminding as we know it now – and the individual high quality care and education that is tailored to each families and each child’s needs – will soon be no longer an option for parents.

And many of the 55,000+ registered childminders will be looking for other employment and being a drain on the benefits system until they find work.

Penny asks that the Government STOPS, LISTENS and CONSULTS – before they make decisions that will in future years be seen as not only ill though out but as having a huge long term cost to Government budgets and to the future of our society.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/department-for-education-stop-the-implementation-of-more-great-childcare

Posted August 16, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

5 responses to “The Government claim they value registered childminders – Really?

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  1. The whole self employed thing for universal credits is going to kill my business off. When this is done monthly, during termtime, I will earn too much to claim anything, but in holidays, I won’t be meeting the minimum wage and they will only pay out on the assumption that I am earning min wage. The current system makes much more sense! I earn more in term time, which in turn makes up for the lack of earnings in holidays, I average out my earnings over a year and am paid tax credits on that basis now. Why are the government soooooo blind to the obvious???

  2. I am already planning ahead and doing more qualifications so I can leave childminding if I have to and work elsewhere.I don’t want to, but as a single parent my income is important,I can’t afford to earn any less – which is what I feel these changes will ultimately bring about. I would be so sad if i can’t continue, I love my job, in 18 years I have seen many changes, but this is the first time I have feared it being the end.

  3. When my son was small, I chose a childminder NOT a larger placement as I wanted him to be loved and cared for in a family setting, as he would have been if I had been able to stay home. Small children don’t need formal education, they need mothering. When will the government cease interfering in parenting decisions and eroding the parenting process?

  4. this is a great site with lots of nfo about universal credit http://www.permaculturehouseintotnes.co.uk/1/post/2013/03/universal-credit-and-the-self-employed.html basically if you have a child under 5 the minimu income floow is 16 hours at minimum wage which equates to approx £101 per week, if you have children they calculate is at school hours ( including the travelling time of yoru child getting to and from school – which is rediculous) which is roughly 35 hours the same as all other claimaints which means an income of approx £221 per week. Also a lot of conecessions wth expenditure we will loose, which means that the job will not be viable at all

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