At last – a little bit of information about Childminding agencies – now let’s take a look at what it says.   10 comments

Some information has recently been posted about the proposed childminding agencies – if you have not seen it yet This is the LINK

First thing that stands out is that the whole tone is that these agencies will be a success – just look at the wording in this – the first paragraph

What are childminder agencies

Childminder agencies are a new way to provide access to high quality home based childcare.  They will help tackle the worrying trend that has seen the number of childminders falling dramatically in the last twenty years and encourage more talented people to enter the profession.  The Government wants to see an expansion in the numbers of independent childminders and, in due course, those working with agencies.  It will be entirely voluntary for childminders to join agencies and for parents to use them.

No if ‘s or buts – just  sounds like everything is going ahead.

Lets look at the second paragraph

Why are they different and what are they aiming to achieve

Childminders are an important and valued part of the UK´s childcare offer.  Many parents find the flexibility and approach offered by childminders a reassuring service in its own right and as a complement to nursery care.  Agencies are, therefore, good news for parents as they will improve parental access to a choice of home based childcare with added peace of mind their carer is high quality and well supported.

Obvious questions are;

Why will agencies be good news for parents? How will they improve parental access to a choice of home based childcare?

Parents already have choice – and choice in how the find the details of Registered Childminders – for example the Ofsted website which has a search facility, Family Link / Family Information service, commercial sites which list thousands of childminders, word of mouth, childminders own website (linked with search engines), local childminding groups own vacancy matching services for their members.

So really plenty of ways to  access information about available childminders.

And the added peace of mind? Well, is that not what we have Ofsted inspections and reports and grades for? Again there is plenty of information available about ‘choosing a childminder

The third paragraph

Who is delivering childminding agencies

Government wants to encourage lots of organisations to take up the opportunity of delivering childminder agencies – from schools and children’s centres, to private businesses including nanny agencies and nurseries, and local childminder networks.  The first agencies are expected to be able to register and be inspected by Ofsted from September 2014, subject to the passage of legislation.

So in a nutshell – anyone can run a childminding agency – they don’t have to have knowledge or experience about childminding.  Just a mention of the fact that ‘subject to the passage of legislation’ – again almost as if it is a ‘done deal’ and just a case of the necessary procedures to be completed.

Next paragraph

I hear there are trials being run

Yes, that’s right.  There are a number of organisations trialling the approach over the next few months throughout England.  Further information can be found on the Government website.

When you visit this government site – you find some more government hype – which those who do not work in the sector and parents may well believe as people still tend to think that the government knows what they are on about.

However the government do not know what they are on about and are providing misleading information – take a look at this from the website

Childminder agencies will support childminders with training and business advice while providing parents with easier access to high-quality childcare. It will be entirely voluntary for childminders to join agencies and for parents to use them.

This makes it sound like childminders don’t access training or support at the moment – of course they do – it is a requirement of the Early Years Foundation Stage – and childminders would not get the highest Ofsted grades if they did not access training and support

71% of childminders currently are graded good or outstanding by Ofsted  – so that is high quality childcare.

Agencies will cut costs and administrative burdens on individual childminders by matching them with parents, saving them from having to spend time and resources trying to fill their places.

What costs will agencies remove? Yes childminders can spend money on advertising – but it is not necessary – there are plenty of FREE ways to advertise.

What burdens will agencies remove? Parents will still want to visit childminders to judge for themselves if the right childcare setting for their child – so this aspect of ‘time’ will not be removed. In addition, the first contact between parent and childminder – either face to face or by phone – is vital and both parties use it as an opportunity to ensure that the available space meets the parents needs and fits in with the childminders other commitments – it is very valued time spent and ensures that neither parent or childminder go ahead with a visit / interview if it is clear that it is not a viable proposition.

Childminder agencies will also bring a number of benefits for parents. They will increase choice in childcare and make it easier to find help with holiday or sickness cover. 

The aspect of increased choice has already been mentioned and is a none starter.

Holiday cover is not usually a problem because a lot of childminders already have a informal network that provides holiday cover for colleagues – but more often that not the parents take their holiday at the same time, or arrange for a member of the family to provide cover during the childminders holiday.

Who is saying that holiday cover is an issue? Or is it a perceived issue by the government or by those that do not use childminders and so assume that it must cause difficulties?

As to sickness cover – yes if  a childminder is unexpectedly ill – then parents do sometimes have to make emergency arrangements or even take a day off. However they have to do this if a nursery or school or playgroup have to close because the toilets are frozen or blocked, if the heating is broken, if they is a lot of snow, or a number of other reasons – AND in all early years settings – if the child is ill, the child can not attend, and so again the parent has to take time off work. THIS IS NOT A CHILDMINDER ISSUE – IT IS AN ISSUE FOR ALL EARLY YEARS SETTINGS.

And the last bit  – The agencies will be registered and inspected by Ofsted, so parents will be reassured about their quality.

This makes it sound like that at the moment childminders are not inspected! Of course childminders are – by Ofsted – the same as every other early years setting – and on their OWN individual practice against the Early Years Foundation Stage (the same as all other early years settings – including school reception classes) – so parents are not only reassured by the Ofsted inspection process but they are reassured that Ofsted report and grade is about that individual childminder.

With childminding agencies – the agency will be inspected and only a small sample of the agency childminders – some agency childminders may never be inspected directly by Ofsted.

Also worth remembering is the agencies will be providing advice, support and training – and by inspecting the childminders in the agency – they will in effect be making a judgement on their own advice, support and training!

Therefore parents will only be reassured that the agency has been inspected – a backward step really from the current system where every childminder is inspected.

Now this is interesting – look at the list of those taking part in the pilots

  • Family Info Link
  • St Bede’s Academy
  • Liverpool Council
  • Salford Council/Rochdale Council/Wigan Council
  • @Home Childcare
  • Entrust Ed
  • NoelQuinnLtd
  • Telford Council
  • Buttercups Nursery
  • Riverside Childcare
  • Merton Council
  • Broadclyst Community Primary School
  • Trio Childcare
  • Bournemouth Council
  • South Gloucestershire Council
  • First Year Childcare
  • Calderdale Council
  • Rutland Council
  • Warwickshire Council
  • Hampshire Council

 

It says that the trials (pilots) started in Summer 2013 – and yet childminders in many of the pilot areas – STILL have not been told or are just getting invites to attend meetings about them.

You have to ask WHY – those running the trails know – and will have plans in place – WHY have the childminders in those areas not been told before now?

On social media childminders are expressing concerns – they are saying they have been told that they MUST attend the meetings, some are being told that if they belong to a childminding network they have to take part in the trails to enable them to continue being able to offer the Free Entitlement to 2, 3, and 4 year olds – not sure if this is the case or not – as the meetings have not been held yet – but if it is true that amounts to bullying or blackmail.

And remember many of the meetings have not been held yet – so already at least a month (if not longer) has gone by of these trails – and the childminders have not even had the information yet.

Now lets look at some of the things that the trials will be looking at;

What are the trials looking at

The trials are testing out:

  • how agencies can be set up by different organisations;
  • how agencies will recruit and work with childminders;
  • how agencies plan to deal with training, suitability and accountability of childminders;
  • different agency business models and which models are likely to be most effective;
  • how agencies might make the most of different funding streams, including the new childcare voucher system;
  • how agencies might work with Ofsted; and
  • how agencies might work as a part of a community childcare facility, linking with other organisations and working with parents.

 

This list makes it sound like every trail is testing out every aspect – but we know this is not true – and each trail is testing just one or two or three aspects.

 

But to find out more we need to look in more detail at the trails taking place – this can be done by clicking on the links to the ‘case studies’

So first Riverside Childcare (copied and pasted in full direct from site)

Title of example Riverside Cares
Centre submitting example Riverside Cares
Local authority/local area Across London with a focus on the east (Tower Hamlets/Hackney/Islington)
 

Background details to the practice

Riverside Cares, comprised of Riverside Childcare, Riverside Nannies and Riverside Training Company, brings together their depth of knowledge and experience in the recruiting, supplying and training of people in the caring professions since 1989.  They offer services designed for the whole family, childcare and care professionals; ranging from nannies, childminders, au pairs, baby sitters, tutors through to companions, home helpers and personal care help for the elderly and senior family members.  Their supply service for nurseries, schools, early years, crèches and special events both introduces candidates and supplies temporary staff.  Accredited training is offered in classrooms, settings, family homes and via the internet offering recognized qualifications for a career in childcare or care of the elderly.  Riverside Cares ensures carers are fully vetted, including in-person interviews, reference checking nationally and internationally, carrying out of Disclosure and Barring checks and ascertaining suitability for a career in childcare and care.  Families are supported in creating job descriptions, meeting suitable candidates and through the process from interview to employment.  Both parties are given support during this process and after placement.  Riverside Cares is also able to deliver an emergency support service to respond to unexpected needs and supply temporary staff across the whole of London.

 

About the practice
Riverside Cares, for this pilot scheme, will be supporting a small number of established childminders and those wishing to register as childminders.  We will be utilizing our depth of knowledge and experience in working with childcarers and families to investigate how a Childminder Agency can operate with maximum benefit to service users.  Riverside Cares see this pilot as an opportunity to explore together with childminders how a Childminder Agency can promote best practice.  Riverside Cares are exploring the opportunity of seeing if the inclusion of a Childminder Agency services will enhance opportunities for families and childminders to meet each other.  The aim is that by creating a new medium of contact for both parties, the childminder who is already very busy during  the day, will learn about suitable new clients who needs specifically meet the childminders availability.  Riverside Cares will be looking at a variety of ways to support childminders including training, finding families, insurance, routes to legal advice, web support, admin support and marketing. Another area of interest is the low uptake of 2 year old funding by childminders, by identifying some of the reasons for this Riverside Cares can explore ways a Childminder Agency could support childminders in accessing this.

 

Evidence and evaluation of difference to children and families
This will be assessed and updated throughout the trial. 

This will be assessed and updated throughout the trial.

Riverside Cares have developed their quality assessment tool and look forward to taking part in this trial.

 

For further information please contact Jill Wheatcroft ( MSc, BSc, RSCN. RGN, NNEB, PTTLS)

0207 374 6363 / 0207 536 9566

info@riversidecares.co.uk

http://www.riversidechildcare.com/

 

So let’s just unpick this bit

The aim is that by creating a new medium of contact for both parties, the childminder who is already very busy during  the day, will learn about suitable new clients who needs specifically meet the childminders availability.  Riverside Cares will be looking at a variety of ways to support childminders including training, finding families, insurance, routes to legal advice, web support, admin support and marketing. Another area of interest is the low uptake of 2 year old funding by childminders, by identifying some of the reasons for this Riverside Cares can explore ways a Childminder Agency could support childminders in accessing this.  

How will this ‘new medium of contact’ help the busy childminder – will he / she have to attend evening events? Will he / she have to find time to answer emails or phone calls? At some point the childminders has to find the time – and at the moment the childminder chooses the method that works best for them – rather than being told which method to use.

All the areas of support mentioned are already available – and often via more than one organisation – giving choice. Why do the government think childminders need more choice? And a point worth mentioning – it is known that some childminders do not access support etc – even if free – so why do the government think those that don’t access support now – will choose to do so in the future – AND pay for it?

As to the low uptake of two year funding – the reasons are already known – insufficient funding, time delay in receiving payment, requirement to provide same child with 3 and 4 year funding even though funding rates even lower – AND up to now restriction by some LA’s with childminders not being eligible, or spaces on networks (to access the FE) being limited. So what else is there to know – surely addressing these issues would be a positive step in the right direction – and then if take up was still low – to look into the issues at that time.

Now for the case study of First Years Childcare

Title of example First Years Childcare
Centre submitting example
Local authority/local area York and surrounding areas
Background details to the practice
First Years Childcare, based in York and the surrounding areas, is a new childcare organization aiming
to improve quality and support for childminders and nannies including a dedicated website. The
owner previously ran a children’s nursery and childcare agency which focused on supplying nannies
and occasional childcare to families. The owner wants to focus on a small childminding setting and
move towards supporting other childcare professionals.
About the practice
First Years Childcare intend to start work with a small group of childminders in York. They will work
closely with childminders and investigate how childminders might set up and be involved in running
their own agency. That will offer more support, information, training and guidance to childminders
and inspect them yearly, not every three years. Parents will be secure knowing childminders have
been trained and met with and are of a high quality and are supported by other childminders who
understand their unique role in the childcare sector. The agency will direct parents to the
childminders in their area that have spaces, and will reduce paperwork for childminders by helping
with accounts, registration etc. Packages will include the childminder’s details on their website and a
monthly newsletter. Childcare professionals can then choose additional services. First Years intends
to offer help with policy, planning, risk assessment, training and quality assurance and improvement
support. The First Years website is being created and this will help First Years Childcare to play the
role of a local one stop shop around childminders.
Evidence and evaluation of difference to children and families
This will be assessed and updated throughout the trial.
First Years Childcare are in the process of recruiting childminders and developing their website.
http://www.firstyearschildcare.co.uk
Email: info@firstyearschildcare.co.uk

Again just unpicking some of the case study

The good thing about this model is that at least there is some expertise in the form of experienced childminders – BUT will they be paid? Will there be a conflict of interest if those in the agency are personal friends?

However there is mention of help with accounts – most childminders either do their own accounts or employ an accountant (not very expensive) also the membership organisations sell account systems that are very easy to follow and have detailed guidance – and finally there are all sorts of systems that can be purchased from simply spread sheets to all singing and dancing system.

It must be remembered that agencies will be charging for these services – whereas if a childminder asks a local colleague or a question on a online forum – the information, support and advice is provide free of charge.

Next case study – At Home Childcare

Title of example @Home Childminding
Centre submitting example @Home Childcare & @Home Childminding
Local authority/local area Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Sheffield
Background details to the practice
@Home Childcare, a private childcare organisation working in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and
Sheffield areas, was established in 2005 by Yvette Oliver-Mighten. The owner wanted to respond to a
local need for more flexible childcare for parents fitting in with their working hours. @Home
Childcare offer a unique model where they employ, train and Ofsted register home childcarers,
matching them to families’ childcare needs. The company has a sister organisation, @Home Childcare
Training, who specialises in providing flexible training to practitioners working in the Children and
Young People’s sector. In September 2012 @Home Childcare extended to include childminders to fill
the gap in support and training for childminders which they will be further extending through the trial
as an agency.
About the practice
@Home Childcare wanted to participate in the childminder agency trial because they recognised the
need for enhanced choice and flexibility for parents and choice for childminders. As an agency they
want to see an offer of professional development and career pathways for childminders as a means of
raising their professionalism through differentiated levels of support, training and guidance. They
believe childminder agencies will offer more joined up childcare serving the best interests of children
and their families. Their aims for their agency are to create a strong quality development programme
along with core training and support services; including CPD training, mentoring and opportunities
(leadership skills and career progression).
Since starting the trial, @Home Childcare have arranged meetings with local childminders and
challenged myths put forward in the media. A business model based around training and support
programmes has been developed and recruitment plans have been put in place. They have recruited
a number of childminders, most of them new or fairly new to childminding and are due to discuss
their plans further with their childminders over the next few weeks. They have set up a separate
section of their website to provide information to childminders about their choices and agencies.
They also held an event in July for childminders called ‘Choices for Childminders’ as a launch of
@Home Childminding.
Evidence and evaluation of difference to children and families
This will be assessed and updated throughout the trial.
6 childminders have been recruited to participate in the trial and initial training and mentoring
programmes are starting up. Successful events have been held with positive feedback from
childminders. The organisation are also looking at their internal registration process for childminders
including briefings and home visits.
http://athomechildcare.co.uk/

Unpicking again

The good thing about this company is they have given an idea of the costs to be involved

BUT – professional development is already well established – some of the membership organisations have a scheme in place for childminders to progress through, some have FREE online training, some provide ‘face to face training’, some LA’s also provide training and CPD – so what is new. Repeating the message from earlier in this blog – yes some don’t bother – not even if free or really cheap – so they are not going to bother if they have to pay the sort of prices mentioned by Home Childcare.

As to website and newsletters – there are already hundreds of these available – some free, plus social media is a excellent – and free way of sharing information (this blog being an example)

And finally – let’s look at the case study from Telford &Wrekin

Title of example Telford & Wrekin Council
Centre submitting example
Local authority/local area Telford & Wrekin
Background details to the practice
In Telford and Wrekin, a unitary authority within the West Midlands, they already have the expertise
and infrastructure in place to run an agency building upon the existing Childminder Network. There
are currently 160 childminders operating within the Local Authority and a higher than national
average hold Good or Outstanding Ofsted grades. The network is accredited through a national
organisation who highlight the quality of service on offer to families and childminders.
An agency run by the authority would ensure that high quality places are developed for all children,
particularly for funded two year olds. Increasing the number of childminders offering two -year-old
funded places has been identified as a priority, and as such part of the agency’s role would be
recruitment and induction of new childminders and matching them to families. The agency would
offer a quality service, providing extended support to childminders working with funded two, three
and four year olds and their families.
About the practice
For the childminder agency trial Telford and Wrekin have recruited a designated childminder team, to
restore high-quality local authority services. They are also recruiting designated admin support to
provide a brokerage service between childminders and parents. This will benefit parents by offering
better communication to link them to childminders with spaces; providing a personal service to link
parents to the right childminder for their needs. They have met with childminders and received a
positive response with around twenty childminders participating in a focus group. The agency is
linked closely to their ‘Talking Twos’ work and they are looking at marketing and material to recruit
childminders who can offer two-year-old funded places. Telford and Wrekin are looking at new ways
to support childminders better and are in consultation with them as to what they want (such as
training, etc). The council are also building partnerships with the social care department so
childminders can learn to provide respite care.
Evidence and evaluation of difference to children and families
This will be assessed and updated throughout the trial.
They hosted a Telford and Wrekin Childminder Agency Information evening. A third of their
childminders turned up to the event. The majority were supportive of the Council’s open-mindedness
to the agency model and are happy to participate as co-constructors in the design of the trial. Twenty
signed up to become part of a working group, once the facts had been relayed and widespread myths
were challenged. A dedicated childminding support team has been constructed for the pilot.
Contact
PR officer: Russell Griffin
russell.griffin@telford.gov.uk

Well – is this not what we had until recently through our Local Authority Early Years Teams? (some of which had dedicated childminding teams) Certainly was the case in Worcestershire when I (Penny Webb) was part of the childminding team

Only difference of course being that once the pilots (trails) are over – all of this will have to be paid for by childminders – and maybe by parents as well.

Personal Opinion

The biggest problem with all these agency proposals is the removal of individual Ofsted inspections

The second biggest problem is that those who are going to run the ‘real thing’ are doing it to make a profit – and many of the things mentioned are already available for free or at low cost – childminders are not going to want to pay out for things they can do themselves

The third biggest problem – all of these things were available through LA’s and membership organisations – so why duplicate things? Everyone knows that this is all about saving the government money – for example by not having to fund LA’s and not having to carry out so many Ofsted inspections – WHY did the government not just say ‘These are the financial facts – we need to save money, so all early years settings are going to have to pay more to access services such as support, advice and training – and inspection.

And the fourth biggest problem – the government are targeting childminders – when actually that is unfair , unprofessional and – sole destroying for those concerned, – and is already having a negative impact on childminders with many resigning or thinking about resigning and many being very depressed about their future as a registered childminder.

Remember the last Ofsted report said 71% of registered childminders were good or outstanding – just a few percentage points behind other types of early years settings.

It is about time the government treated registered childminders with professional respect – and about time the government listened to the early years sector – and stopped trying to make childminding agencies sound wonderful and a positive solution – when it is clear they are not ‘new ideas’, and are not going to achieve the aims stated by the government.

PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG – IT IS NOT COPYRIGHTED. We MUST raise awareness among childminders, other early years professionals – and most importantly with PARENTS .

The Government has starting promoting childminding agencies with hype, assumptions and factually incorrect information – and we MUST make sure that people are given the facts and then allowed to decide for themselves.

Posted September 28, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

10 responses to “At last – a little bit of information about Childminding agencies – now let’s take a look at what it says.

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  1. Pingback: childminders to be run by agencies!!!

  2. The York trial has caused a lot of debate on our local FB page. Especially as the lady running it has just registered as a childminder, which isn’t really clear from that blurb. She hasn’t really answered any of our questions yet but has been invited to talk to us @ local groups. At the same time our FIS have just emailed to tell us our LA has been chosen to help other LAs develop “childcare hubs” for all childcare settings in a 2 year pilot because of their great practice. Bit confused as if LAs are going to continue supporting all settings in the way ours currently does, why on earth would we sign up for an agency?

    • Thank you so much for commenting Lindsay – and for the local info. On the face of it, it does all sound very confusing. If you are able to, can you keep us updated information becomes available.

  3. This the press release
    York’s Childcare team chosen to shape childcare across England
    City of York Council has been chosen to help develop childcare across the country because of its expertise in the area.
    The council‟s Childcare Service, which plans, commissions and co-ordinates childcare in York, will take part in a two-year government trial to help other areas develop childcare hubs. York was chosen because of the success of its award-winning „Shared Foundation Partnerships‟ – childcare networks across the city made up of schools, childminders, private nurseries and playgroups – which have been running for a number of years and are similar to the childcare hubs the government is encouraging authorities to set up.
    The aim of York‟s partnerships – and the national hubs – is to ensure a consistent quality of Early Years education for two to five-year olds, offering parents high quality, flexible childcare.
    York‟s Shared Foundation Partnerships are very similar to the government‟s vision of childcare hubs where childcare settings will improve quality together, can expand to meet demand for places in the local area and support local parents in finding childcare to meet the needs of their family, promoting cooperation, sharing of information and resources, and providing a smooth transition between childcare providers and schools, for the benefit of children and families.
    Councillor Janet Looker, Cabinet member for Education, Children, Young People, said: “In York we have long recognised the importance of partnerships in the provision of high quality childcare. I‟m delighted that our expertise in this field is now being recognised nationally.”
    Barbara Mands, Head of Childcare Strategy said „This is a really exciting opportunity for us to share our experience of Shared Foundation Partnerships and raise the profile of York‟s unique childcare arrangement across the country.”
    Robert Wilkinson Primary School has also been chosen to get involved in the trial and will be working to engage local childminders more fully with their Shared Foundation Partnership, which also includes private nurseries and playgroups within and around Strensall.
    Elinor Adams, Lead Teacher for the pilot, said: “We are really looking forward to working with a range of agencies to provide high quality blended childcare for our community. It will also be a great opportunity to strengthen links with our local Children‟s Centre at New Earswick.”
    York‟s Childcare Team will also work with Fishergate Shared Foundation Partnership to further develop them as a childcare hub. Fishergate are already a well established partnership and this work will build on the excellent practice that already happens between all its partners.

  4. I am very against agencies – having been a childminder for 18 years and been through numerous changes I have tried to keep an open mind each time, have moved with the times, changed how I do things, tried to embrace some of the more recent changes,and had started to feel proud to say ‘ I am a childminder’, at last we were gaining respect, parents understand that we are on a level with nurseries if not better as we meet the same requirements as them but on a much more personal and individual way. Then they throw agencies into the mix, with all that I have read – a lot of it thanks to Penny, I just feel demoralised and worried.
    I can see nothing positive in it at all, I don’t understand ‘why’, I don’t like the way a lot of things are making us look like we don’t know what we are doing, that we are inferior to nurseries, that we need help with basic paperwork. I know paperwork is a big issue, but I personally believe that its a time issue rather than ability. I can find nothing that makes sense that explains why we would ever need an agency. When I read that some nurseries want to run an agency I was, and still am, fuming. We are in competition with them, how could it work, and again WHY?. I don’t need a nursery telling me my job. I don’t need an agency ‘placing’ children, I don’t know any parents that would want the choice taken away from them.
    I have read several times the phrase about giving parents access to more choice of childminder. Well, at the moment via the family information service they have access to every registered childminder. So what I am missing, how can an agency that only has some members – as there would presumably more than one in an area and not everyone would belong to it – have more to choose from than all of them that there is now.
    The biggest worry is that the only way I can see this going is fees having to increase because someone somewhere will have to pay for the agency ‘service’ – and parent’s can’t afford to pay more, so will look for a cheaper alternative which will lead the way for unregistered minders to set up. There are already people doing that, they seem to get away with it until something goes wrong, they are just called the ‘babysitter’.
    Are they trying to get rid of childminders and only use nurseries, if so what is the reason,why is someone high up in the government so against childminders. The pressure on parents to go to work is very high, they need childcare to match exactly their needs, they need the flexibility that only a childminder can offer. I get texts late at night saying – hi, can I drop xx with you at 7 tomorrow instead of 7.30, or texts during the day saying – I have an emergency dentist, could you collect x from school and I will meet you asap. etc how will an agency fit around that sort of situation, how will they decide who does what.how about the parents that do supply teaching and call when they get offerred work at 8.00 to see if they can drop x off at 8.30. How about the way we do our fees, how we may vary it to suit each parent. Unlike a nursery that will probably have a very structured fee schedule, I am able to say yes to a parent that needs to pay on different day in the month, or weekly, or even daily, or a week late because the car failed its mot so money a but short that week, or I can average the fees out over a year – how will the agency fit in with all that.
    Sorry, that was long, but I just can’t see how an agency is the way forward.

    • Thank you so much for all your comments Val – I am sure you are expressing the worries and concerns of many childminders.

      The government seem to be pushing this through with a hidden agenda in mind – there must be – otherwise they would (could) just give much more detail, explain things and listen to concerns, reflect on them and then tell us all why they are adapting their proposals – or indeed why they are not.

      As you may know Val I recently sent a letter to the DfE (and a copy to Nursery World for their Q & A session with Ms. Truss – with just two very straight forward questions.

      I have yet to receive acknowledgement of the letter or a reply.

      If childminders are worry, are depressed, are finding other employment, are ‘going underground’ and looking after children illegally – then it is the government who are responsible – and it is the government who could put a stop to all this worry and uncertainty by being honest and transparent.

  5. Hi ,I have been Registered for 23 years ,can’t see the benefit at all unless the local LAs start charging for support and training (although I already pay £35 training subscription fund to local authority have done for 4 years and then most of the courses are during the week, OK for Nurseries)I am in Hampshire and have not been invited to a meeting or anything yet ,I am also a Network Childminders and have claimed the grant for educating 3 and 4 year olds since the scheme started .

    Angeline Hargreaves
    • Angeline, if you haven’t had a notification to a meeting this October then you need to contact your network coordinator as they have sent info out about the funding and meetings and apparently are going to inform us about Hampshire being an agency!!! I didn’t receive one either but my friend happened to ring the Network and was told about the email, In fact few of us had received this email. I have been working as a childminder for 27 yrs and like you see no reason for agencies – there are a few changes I’d like to see but agencies isn’t one of them.

      • Thank you Janet for passing on the information to Angeline (and anyone else in your area who has not had this important email)

        I find it unbelievable that a) It is now October and the first evaluation of these pilots is in December – final one in March that the pilot is not up and running yet as that is just 2 months to ‘test’ out the aspect the Hampshire pilot is looking out – then to feedback take out the Christmas holidays and then another 2 months (ish) and conclusions will be drawn!

        b) that information is only being sent to (or at least received by) SOME childminders in the area – and that childminders in the Network – who are likely to lose the Network through this – have not all been informed about this. The suspicious side of me says a) have their ‘cherry picked’ who they tell? b) why when network coordinators are made aware that not everyone has had the email – did they not resend it – to EVERYONE?

        Very worrying

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