I have been wondering ……. These childminding agencies …. What if someone wants to make a complaint?   1 comment

As many people know – I have recently had a complaint made against me – a serious one that if proved founded could have closed my setting, if the compliance inspector thought the compliant was founded.

As it happens the inspector has said verbally that the compliant is unfounded and it would appear malicious – although a full inspection is now required under Ofsted’s procedures to ensure that I am continuing to meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage 2102.

 

Much as I am more than a bit miffed that someone is able to put in a malicious complaint. I do fully support the complaints procedure that Ofsted have in place. Apart from malicious complaints (which Ofsted do need to address as they cause a lot of distress and harm to practitioners and extra work for Ofsted) the principle of being able to complain and to safeguard children in early years setting is essential. Everyone should be able to put in a justified complaint or concern – parents, other professionals, family and friends and indeed anyone who thinks that a child is at risk or that a setting is not complying with the requirements of the EYFS12.

 

So as I say in the title of this blog – I have been wondering …….. what will happen if someone wants to make a complaint against an agency childminder?

I don’t have the answers because of course we have no detail from the Government or any information about the agency models as evaluations of the pilots are not yet complete.

Therefore all I am doing is raising my concerns via some questions.

Maybe the Government will respond

Maybe those taking part in the pilots will respond

Maybe you will have some questions of your own

 

Who will people need to complain to?             

I am assuming it won’t be Ofsted because agency childminders won’t have an Ofsted number or be regulated by Ofsted

Will it be the agency?

How will people know if an agency childminder or an independent childminder?

How will people who see poor practice (say at a toddler group) know if that childminder is an independent Ofsted registered childminder or an agency childminder – and if an agency childminder – which agency?

How will they know how to complain?

The Ofsted number is well known, all Ofsted registered settings have to display it, local authorities know it, you can find it via the Ofsted website or an internet search BUT with the potential of so many different models of agencies run by potential many different organisations, how will people be made aware of the number to phone? (Assuming they can find out which agency the childminder is governed by)

 

If the complaint is handled by the agency – what will the procedure be?

Surely the agency will not be able to investigate complaints against their own childminders – the ones that they support and monitor and say are of an acceptable quality?

This has always been given as a reason why regulation and support services need to kept separate – so the reason why LA’s support and Ofsted regulate. And I agree they should be separate otherwise there will be conflict of interests, the potential to have ‘favourites’ or be open to bribery or bullying; or be tempted to ‘overlook’ things because of the reputation of the agency.

 

And if an independent body is needed to handle complaints who will pay for it? We all know that handling complaints is extremely expensive.

The agency?  If so of course the cost will be passed down to the childminders and the parents, as childminding agencies will need to cover costs and depending on their model may need to make a profit.

Ofsted?  If so how will the cost be covered? From central Government? From the fees paid to Ofsted by other settings?

The LA? Out of which budget?

 

Will whoever does investigate the complaint have the power to put in place actions or even to deregister an agency childminder?

It appears that there are already going to be a huge number of differences between independent Ofsted registered childminders and agency childminders – will what happens in the event of a complaint be yet another difference?

Will Ofsted inspect the agency if a complaint is made – rather than the individual childminder being investigated?

If so could the poor practice of one childminder, lead to the whole agency being downgraded (and therefore all the childminders in that agency? Could in the worst case scenario – the whole agency be deregistered? And if so what happens to the agency childminders and the parents using the services of those agency childminders?

 

As I say, I don’t know the answers – I am not sure if even the Government or those undertaking the pilots know the answers, but let’s hope that the issue of complaints is taken very seriously, that whatever system is put in place is fair, is robust and most importantly protects the children in the care of an agency childminder.

Posted January 25, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “I have been wondering ……. These childminding agencies …. What if someone wants to make a complaint?

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  1. There are more questions than answers………. if only this had been thought through or more communication with childminders
    before going live. l can only see different standards of both regulation and complaints outcome which once again is a very big backward step.

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