Archive for February 2014

Guest Blog by Annelize Cruz   8 comments

This is my first guest blog – and may be followed by others over the coming months.
Annelize Cruz , my guest blogger, is a childminder with a passion. She truly believes childminding is the only alternative option to providing a child with the type of care they so deserve when they are young.
 
For this reason in 2013 she set up the online service, Free Range Childcare, to show parents that they have an alternative option for childcare.  They have an option which allows them to give their children the home care that they need.  Free Range Childcare is raising awareness of the nurturing, flexible and affordable childcare option that is childminding.
 
The aims of Free Range Childcare are to raise the profile of childminders by giving parents an accurate picture of how childminding works and how it fits into the spectrum of childcare options; and helping parents to find the perfect childminder for their family through their database of UK based, Ofsted registered childminders.
 
So over to Annelize;
The hot topic at the moment is the high cost of childcare. But let’s look at the facts. Is childcare really that expensive?

 

In reality, cleaning, dog walking and babysitting will actually cost you more per hour.
 
The government is painting a very negative picture of stay-at-home mums. We’ve almost reached a point, for the first time in history, where wanting to stay at home and look after your own small children is seen as wrong, lazy or taboo. But how many parents actually would prefer to take care of their own child? And is the ‘high cost’ of childcare being used as a valid excuse to be home with their pride and joy without being judged?
 
Researchers in developmental psychology argue that during the first three years of a child’s life, the interests of the child are best served by being cared for by a parent in their own home environment. The UK-born psychologist and writer, Steve Biddulph, is a harsh critic of childcare, particularly for the under threes and even though this might seem like bad news for many parents, his condemnation is not without foundation. 

 

Studies show that a baby’s brain grows 3 times in size by the time they are 3.  During this time, in response to the love and caring firmness they are given, the brain makes most of its connections.  If this intense love and care is not given, these areas of the brain do not develop properly. This is clearly shown in studies on the brains of Romanian orphans.
 
A baby’s stress hormone (cortisol) levels can be measured in their saliva when they are crying and upset. The reading of these measurements drop after a cuddle from their mother.  The cortisol readings for children that attended a nursery were double that of children cared for at home.
 
So where does this leave the childcare debate? Hopefully it will bring strength and courage to parents who want to stay at home and care for their own children. The research is on their side. There is no need to hide behind excuses. If you can afford not to go out to work and can instead find a way to be with your little ones those first few years then do it, no one should make you feel bad. 
 
But how about parents who do need to return to work? Whether they need to financially or want to return to a career that fulfils them, how can childcare best serve the practical needs of these parents and the developmental needs of their children? Despite the herd-childcare that the government seem to be pushing to the forefront, with proposals for higher child-carer ratios and schools expanding facilities to take children as young as two, it is actually possible, and affordable, for children to be cared for in the loving, caring home environment that they deserve to be in when so young. 

 

Of course one option, if you are lucky enough to have family close by, is for children to be cared for by a grandparent, aunt or other family member, but even if this option is not viable there is one more unsung hero of childcare, a childminder. Childminders, as individuals running their own small businesses, are often a much more affordable option than nurseries, yet can provide the same professional and quality care as nurseries with so many added bonuses.
 
Being with a childminder is like being part of an extended family in a home environment.  The numbers are much lower than those in a nursery so there can be more time for 1:1 care.  Childminders provide a real-life learning experience.  They are qualified, registered and inspected childcare professionals that often have the added benefit of being a parent themselves.  Children benefit from sharing the family setting with peers of different ages, allowing them to learn from each other.  Children at childminding settings can enjoy a range of activities and outings, from visiting the parks and playgrounds to attending toddler groups and taking trips to local attractions.  Childminders also offer flexible childcare options for parents who do not work 9 to 5, with options to provide care in the early morning, evening, weekends and overnight, term-time only, holiday cover, school pick ups and ad-hoc care.
 
The great thing about using a childminder is that you can grow a relationship with them where they truly become like extended family and often continue to care for your child even after they start school.  The research may show that an idealised situation for a young child would be to be cared for full-time by a loving parent, but in reality this is not always possible or desirable. In cases where childcare is really required, I truly believe there is no gentler, and kinder choice for childcare than a childminder, the true ‘Free Range’ choice.
Thank you Annelize for your guest blog, and personally I think there are lots of parents who want to spend time with their children both in their pre school years and once they start full time formal school. In my opinion what is the point in having children, if you can not spend much time with them? Certainly in my own personal situation, the reason why I became a registered Childminder was to enable me to spend time with my children – and to contribute to family finances and the cost of bringing up the children.
If anyone wants to visit Annelize’s website Free Range Childcare –  this is this LINK
 
 

 

 

 

Posted February 19, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Elizabeth Truss – Why are you not answering our questions?   16 comments

The words in the title of this blog are mine BUT I am not the only person asking this question. Childminders have been spending hours of their time writing letters and sending emails to Elizabeth Truss – and also to the Prime Minister, Mp’s,  The Lords and to the media – and on the whole they have either had no response at all – or a standard response – that says nothing.

Ms. Truss has issued a letter – intended for all childminders – however most childminders have not had a copy yet and have only seen it online – although there is little point in having a copy oif the letter and yet again the Minister fails to answer the many questions asked or to provide any detail about childminding agencies.

In the last week – after Truss cancelled the meeting with the childminding sector – childminders have become increasingly cross and are now resorting to posting on Truss facebook posts. This should not be necessary because we should have had the answers to the questions months ago.

I have decided to publish the comments made on Truss’s Facebook page here because at the time of writing there has been NO response at all to all the comments, and I hope to raise awareness of the Ministers ‘head in sand’ attitude. She may hope that it will all calm down and that she can ‘sit this storm out’ BUT if this is the case she clearly does not understand the passion and commitment that childminders have for their profession and for the children and families that they work with. Nor does she understand their combine wealth of knowledge and understanding about children and childminding.

So over to the childminders voice through their comments

My apologies to those whose comments are not shown in full – and that say ‘See More’ – but hopefully people will be able to go to the Facebook page themselves and see the full comments. Some of the comments are in full and some are copies of the letters that childminders had sent to me to give to Truss at the meeting which she cancelled.

Please note some use their own name and some use ‘user names’ – and some have commented more than once

These comments are on a post about The Kings Arms (nothing to do with childminding but the childminders are now using all methods possible to have their comments made public)

Annelize Cruz Do you really think children would benifit from having a 45 hour school week? Most adults only work about 39 hours a week and are exhausted at the end of it? Would children not benefit more from going to a childminder for the wrap around care? With chi…See More

Julie Nangle I have been a Registered Childminder for 15 years and in that time I have looked after 64 children (all ages). In that time, I have had two outstanding graded inspections from Ofsted, after they started the grading, have been in the Quality Assured Ch…See More

Julie Nangle Children in Britain are in school longer than any other country, so why is there a need in having them there more hours? Why is there a need to have children as young as 2 years to sit in a straight line at school, when there is still time for them to…See More

Pauline Feltham all I have to say is WE DO NOT WANT AGENCIES OR LONGER HOURS FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN AND FOR SENDING THEM AT 2 YEARS OLD IS MADNESS . FULL STOP.WE ARE INDEPENDENT .!!!

Nikki Beale Sorry just thought of another question.

As you are ignoring all the advice from childcare professionals would you mind telling us exactly what your childcare qualifications are ?

Child psychology ?…See More

Lu La How can you think childminders,parents and teachers are happy about this?! are you blind to the publics clear NO message?

Anna Sewell I became a childminder to look after my cousins children, she needed to go back to work after the birth of her second child so they could afford to buy a house. I offer her half price childcare, this makes her happier to have me for several reasons, s…See More

Annelize Cruz I think this video shows a true picture of the education system and its getting worse when we thought it couldnt get any worse …

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read Childminders already offer decent wrap around, flexible and extended hours (evenings, early mornings, weekends)

Listen to us, meet with us, work with us Ms Truss

I would NOT want my child in school longer

Nikki Beale I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. Just two questions as it is clear you are determined to do away with both.

What is it about childminders you don’t like ?

What is it about childhood you don’t like ?

Amy WWhyte So minders can: manage out of hours care, role out funding, carry out EYFS, provide, private,respite and overnight care all whilst managing a creche at a wedding! Wow! Oh but Mrs un registered minder down the road can do our job for three hours without inspection, training or safeguarding issues being apparent! Sorry but I didn’t obtain a level 7 cert to become Truss’ dogs body!

Lisa M Fricker I was talking to the afterschool children yesterday about the gov wanting to keep schools open to 6pm. All the children said “no we don’t want to be at school until 6pm, we want to go to your house and play and have fun. How would we have our cooked tea if we were still at school?”. When will this government start listening?

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read Just basing on my own son(s) they like to finish their day at school – after 6 hrs, come home chill out and chat, watch a bit of tv, have a snack, go to their activities/groups, get OUTSIDE and be active – burn of that energy

but most of all they like to spend TIME with their family and friends

…See More

Jean Kemp Childminders follow the statutory guidance which says we can care for a maximum of 6 children under 8 at anyone time. Are you proposing changing the ratios so we can care for 30 children of any age when not at home!! What happens to the other 29 if one has an accident…serious safeguarding issues!

Janis Phillimore All these negative responses to your plans! Why aren’t you listening????

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read Could it be that these plans are going forth whether they are a good idea or not. This government won’t admit they are wrong or defeated and this is what worries me

HOW long before agencies are declared a success and they become compulsory…See More

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read 1:30 ratio – you lead the way then Ms Truss and show us HOW that will be done – children of various ages, in one small contained area, already done 6hrs in school and another (approx.) 3 to go

a couple feeling poorly, some squabbles and fights to deal with, a couple of bumps to sort out, oh and don’t forget assistance with homework, activities and don’t forget to get meal/snack out for all 30

Debbie Flavell I think this is crazy, I look after a two yr old and she’s not even fully talking and still has sleeps in the afternoon , there is no way she can attend school, most 2yr olds are alike, your not thinking about the effects it will impact on them and the…See More

Adele Berry Why are you not asking the children what they think about this Ms Truss? Some children would actually want to see their parents during the week. For the sake of family unity I hope that common sense prevails and that your ridiculous ideas crash and burn.

Annelize Cruz Think there is over 300 comments all together Penny Webb

Debbie Webb Please leave the education system to someone who actually knows what they are doing!! STOP cherry picking things from around the world…first it was France, now China…Please STOP and actually LISTEN to the professionals and hold PROPER CONSULTATIONS…See More

Amy WWhyte Amazing how Ms Truss announces her ill advised successes with triumph on Facebook but fails to answer us! Come on Ms Truss we await your answers….

Debbie Webb http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Amy WWhyte Why do you think childminders should be general dogs bodies? I for one worked hard to be an independent childminder, providing a unique service. If you also try and shoe horn us into schools, clubs, agencies, running wedding creches whilst still managi…See More

Annelize Cruz Please take the time to read this Ms Truss – http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Carol Harris Childminders, parents, teachers don’t want this!

Listen or perhaps read these views we don’t want this at all……….

Amanda Stone Dear Ms. Truss

I am an Ofsted Registered Childminder based in North Nottinghamshire, I have been registered for 14 years originally through social services under 8s team and now through Ofsted….See M

Celine McGuire HERE HERE Amanda Stone

Jennifer Withers I urge you to reply in detail to the childminders who have taken the time to write to you. And I mean in detail, not just quoting from More Great Childcare. We need to know the true facts about what it is going to cost to remain independent as none o…See More

Christine Clarke I have been a Registered Childminder for over 20 years. During this time I have provided wrap around care for school aged children, including Teachers who work long enough hours already. Most children just want to unwind after a busy school day. We go…See More

Helen Hobkinson Why have you cancelled the meeting with childminders? What are you afraid off? That the reality of you ill-thought out plans are coming home to roost?

Joanne Morton as a parent I would not and could not ever consider a school day of this magnitude, I adore my children and love the 121 time I have with them after school, they are tired, hungry and need to unwind, homework, reading and support with their education i…See More

Chantal Learmonth With reference to childminder agencies, there is no information on how they would benefit childminders who are already set up and running their business. Agencies are “middlemen” who will cost…. Has anyone actually spoken to childminders and seen how the businesses are being run?? I seriously hope that the comments from childminders are going to be listened to!!!!!!!

Tim Hunt Yet another ill conceived plan that will harm children’s education and destroy family life. Right up there with school places for 2 year olds and childminder agencies.

Lisa Iles Cant really add much more to what has been said apart from ‘Listen to parents, teachers and childcare professionals’ we seem to be more in the know then yourself…

Mel Haggart I would like to add my thoughts about childminding agencies, I firmly believe to will reduce the level of childcare in the home. As a childminder I think that you should reintroduce a more regular visit to all childminders done at local level. Introduc…See More

Loulou Jeanprimrose I’ve been a Childminder for the last 6 years and previous to this worked in nurserys and preschools. I’ve worked hard to become qualified having just finished my early years degree. My business has been my labour of love and has slowly built to the su…See More

Liz Hawkey You may welcome this announcement! Nobody else does!

Jennifer Withers We like to have our children at home with us. Or if they can’t be at their own home, in a childminder’s welcoming home from home, where parents can have confidence in individually inspected childminders who are working in an individual style to allow parents to choose the one who suits them, and not all the same under an agency.

Carina Nash And who will pay for the teachers longer hours. And bigger buildings to house all the children from age 2? Teachers are already striking in March over pay and conditions, surely you don’t think this will be welcomed with open arms?

Monica Gorham As a mum I would never send my child to school or this length of time. I want him with me, or with a one on one care giver. This proposal and that of childminding agencies does not in any way benefit the welfare of this children. Should that not be our…See More

Hayley Rogers I am in agreement with the above comments, childhood is precious and should be protected. I do not agree with sending little ones to school at age 2 or the extension of the school day. I am proudly independent, I will not be forced into joining an agency because you’ve pulled my support network out from under my feet!

Samantha Shaw Instead of lying to the Nation about your reasons for these changes, just be honest with us.

The government is trying to save money;

by introducing childminder agencies you plan to close all LA Early years teams and Family Info Services and passing th…See More

Kirsty Austin There are so many valid points raised in these posts re. Childminding agencies. I am not adverse to change and have adapted my practise as a childminder in many ways over the past 13 years to accommodate new government policies and strategies etc but t…See More

Chantal Learmonth I know for a fact that my children would not benefit from a 45 hour school week. When the weather is ok (about 8 months of the year), we go to the park after school, giving the children time to exercise and socialise with children they would not commu…See More

Monica Gorham As a mum I would never send my child to school or this length of time. I want him with me, or with a one on one care giver. This proposal and that of childminding agencies does not in any way benefit the welfare of this children. Should that not be our…See More

Karen Bennett I see a huge amount of time and effort going in to all these posts MS Truss along with a lot of emotion , forgive me but I have kept scrolling through them all to find your heartfelt reply but cannot locate this, could you please point us in the right direction ?

Margi Barlow The silence is deafening !

Taro Rigby As well as all the above points – I’d like to add that we need to Change the tax credit childcare payment system to prevent fraud – e-petitions epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60533

Karen Bennett Iike many other parents that are concerned about longer school days/ less holidays , I am gravely concerned about the impact on their lives. My son now will already have to stay in education until he’s 18 , if the proposed is DICTATED then I personally…See More

Jacqui Betts I have to say that I agree totally with all the comments mentioned previously about the unnecessary implementation of childcare agencies, longer school hours and children starting school at the age of two. Please listen to us, we work everyday with the…See More

Amanda Wilkins You do realise that NO ONE is supporting these plans don’t you? Parents, teachers and childcarers alike. I am assuming you have a wish to leave your job and take your party down with you, that is the only logical reason for your determination to create idiotic plans

Julie Roe Dear MsTruss

Just a quick question do you have children if so DO YOU NOT LIKE THEM it is the only reason I can think of for the ridiculous ideas sorry I think u need a rethink and listen to what the voting public want thank you

DebbieandPete Childminding What is wrong with this Government- children should be Children and spending time in a warm, loving environment wether that be at home or in a Childminders home. Longer school hours will not deliver the same nurturing. Have you listened to Childminders who are repeatedly saying NO TO CHILDMINDING AGENCIES!!!!!!!!!

Jules Fraser-Burton I have clients who are teachers and they do NOT welcome extending the school day. They struggle to complete their work within the time frame they have let alone giving them additional work. How can you possibly see that by extending the school day you would be enhancing their family life? The children will be home from school, having late evening meals and then straight to bed!! What about relaxation & family time for the children? You would be putting the schools under additional performance stresses. The children in my care enjoy relaxing activities after they have had a hard day at school. They enjoy a freshly cooked nutritious meal. How much is this going to cost the government? Surely these monies would be better invested in providing more childcare provisions or providing more help for parents towards childcare costs! Childminders provide an environment which is relaxing and an extension of their home. No benefit can be derived from forcing the child to stay in the school environment for up to 11 hours a day!

Sam Stapleton I am appalled at the prospect of children as young as two being placed in schools and formal teaching commencing, at what stage are they actually allowed to be children and develop in their own right? You seem to believe that it will benefit the future of the country to produce highly successful academics, however, in my own experience this does not necessarily translate into being successful in business. To be successful you need softer skills as well, such as the ability to communicate and form bonds with others and these come from having a secure base as a child and developing the prime areas highlighted in the Early Years Foundation Stage. I have to say the more I read of your proposals the less convinced I am that you have any understanding of child development or even the EYFS. Your plans are ill thought out, without any real consultation and at times downright ludicrous as well as the complete antithesis of what childcare professionals and parents want or believe is best for children. As someone who is both a mother and a childminder I am horrified by the proposals you are making to remove future generations of children’s chance to have a childhood.

On the matter of the childminder agency proposals, at not stage during the discussions surrounding have you clearly articulated the following:

– How they are going to encourage more people to become childminders

– Why developing agencies will improve the quality of childcare

– Why already good and outstanding childminders would wish to join an agency, although frankly if you wanted to encourage other childminders to do so I would suggest this would be essential.

– How the Ofsted grading and inspection will work for agencies and what that means for childminders who are part of them or independent?

– What the cost of being a member of an agency will be to a childminder?

– Will parents pay fees to access the agencies childcare?

Please do not insult my intelligence by merely quoting me any of your existing reports as I have read them at length and all I am able to find is lots of rhetoric and little substance. I urge you to seek views of parents, childminders and other childcare professionals and instead of ignoring it actually take it on board, for the sake of all our children.

Justine Whitelam I am a childminder and foster carer and i think you should have the decency to reply to the practitioners and parents whom have stressed their concern over longer days and agencies………WE DO NOT WANT THEM ……..

Teresa Tait Children need to be children school does not offer creativity, imagination, chill out time or just being a child – I think we will be breeding little robots soon who are programmed to sit in offices from 2 years old with pen in hand.

Deborah Bartlett Having unregistered people looking after friends children (for gain ) is not safe .having children in school younger and longer is unfair on them and will lead to a loss of childminders and lost childhoods, .expecting teachers to rearrange their days to help with after school club is wrong the teachers and children need a rest after the normal school day .miss truss you are a DANGER to children and the professional childminder , it is essential you find some one in government that really understands children, childcare and the needs of parents and professional childminders .

Lindsay Clayton Just seen the article in The Telegraph. Seriously Ms Truss how many childminders do you think are going to want to work in a school with 30 4-11 year olds from 3-6? The vast majority of us chose this job to be AT HOME with OUR children. How would this even be feasible when the vast majority of us ALSO look after EYFS children until their parents finish work.

Chris Fitzjohn Dear Ms Truss can I ask do you have children? I hope not as I can not believe any mother would welcome putting their precious 2 year old child into a school setting, or want their child to attend school 45 hours a week with only 7 weeks holiday a year. If a parent needs to work, which many do, I believe that a childminder who can offer wrap around care, a homely environment, and understands their under 5’s as the young child he/she is. It is bad enough children are already going into school when they are only just 4 years old. If your aim is to save money on childcare costs without a care for these children or their rights then yes you will agree this is a good idea, but if you have any consideration for these little children then stop this idea now. Save money by paying tax credit childcare element direct to the registered childminders/nurseries this would save hundreds of pounds instantly as currently the payments are paid to parents and often never seen by the childcarers they claim they are going to. And please leave us Childminders alone, WE DO NOT WANT To BE PART OF AN AGENCY, we are hard working people who care about the children and their families and have worked hard to build up our businesses,

Natasha Leonards Let our children be children and be nurtured and cared for. As a parent of three I am dismayed at the prospect of schools having 2 yr olds under their care. It is utter lunacy. Then we hear the idea of a childminder caring for 30 children. Where are these ideas coming from????? As a parent and a childminder I urge you to reconsider these proposals. Huge damage will be done to children and the idea of 2 yr olds in school actually makes me feel very sad.

Hannah Ruth Louise Cook Ms Truss, do you have any idea how important family time is to both children and their parents? I am a registered childminder, and trained in this profession so I could be with my own children. Your proposals will force hard working, ofsted registered childminders out of business, as well as put children at risk by allowing unregistered and unregulated people to care for them. You are destroying the family as we know it. But hey, who cares, as long as you are making money in taxes. No one wants these proposals!! Stop trying to destroy our profession and our families!!!

Jayne Knight I really hope you are reading all these posts. All children need time to chill out how will they do that if at school until 6pm. They’ll be that tired and irritated. when will children spend times with their families ? At weekends ? That’s not enough. Made me sad reading above post what a children think about it.

Dave Kesteven I don’t care if the school opens 24 hours a day my son will still only be going between 9 and 3 if they don’t like it take me to court !!

Trish Andrews You are completely out of touch with your views and your proposals are victorian! I have two special needs children and you think that sending them to school 10 hours a day etc will do them good, my daughter used to go to main stream school and by 4pm she was asleep, like other parents, I had children because I want to spend time with them, I will not for one minute be sending them to school for that length of time, you should resign right now before you turn the whole country against you, you have no idea about what us parents want.

Laura Keen For what it is going to cost in implementing these ludicrous proposals of putting 2 year olds in school, extending the school days as well as everything else with building extra class rooms, more resources, (the list is endless) why not make the 2 year old funding available to everyone and increase the funded places from 15 hours to 25 – 30….. Surely that makes more sense and is more cost effective as well as give children QUALITY CARE….No way on this earth is my child attending school until 6pm what an absolutely ridiculous idea.

Loulou Jeanprimrose You talk so much about young children being “taught” by qualified teachers, you forget the highly qualified and experience rich Childminders who work relentlessly to cater to the individual needs of every child in their care. Your speeches are pretty on paper but lack the conviction of true knowledge and understanding to make positive change. You seem to ignore decades of research that suggests young, particularly vulnerable children need loving environments in which to form close attachments with key people in order to thrive. Childminders are best placed to provide such care whilst continuously working alongside parents and outside organizations to provide the joined up care these children need. Unfortunately your views will end in quality Childminders leaving the profession they have worked hard at and loved for so long so that we can have a generation of robots who don’t understand the value of true attachments and quality time with their families. You are so intent on every adult being in work and topping up your taxes fund you are prepared to risk the futures of the very people will grow to create it. Please take a step back and listen to the people that know the sector you are trying to change, work with them not against them as there is rarely much support for your ideas. No Childminder will be against changes and reform… We made the EYFS a huge success however changes and reform need to be for the greater good of those it effects not just bombarded through legislation because a few politicians share the same views.

Stacey Jackson-lockyer My son just turned 2 a few ago and I couldn’t imagine him in a school now. He’s not yet toilet trained (is a teacher going to change his nappies, better still toilet train him) and some days still has a sleep in the afternoon if we’ve had a busy morning! How is a teacher going to cope with tired, two year old tantrums? The whole idea is a joke!

Lorraine Baker seriously are you trying to eliminate childminders and family times for children…..you really need to reconsider!!!!!

Kirsten Harrison The changes you are continuously suggesting seem to do one thing and one thing alone , put children at risk, let them be children.

The best way to learn is through play and they are losing the opportunitity to play.

Please stop and listen to people who have or work with children, the changes are not being made asked on a child’s needs but on your governments wishes, ideas.

So Fi Dear minister of Education and Childcare,

Childminders have chosen to work from home and are SELF-EMPLOYED. They provide a service to parents, set their rates, invoice parents and although they aim to be flexible, choose their working times.

If they had wanted to work for nurseries or after school clubs they would already do so, although they would be called something else like nursery nurse, after school carer and so on.

Childminders charge PER CHILD. So when you say they may be able to look after up to 30 children in after school settings, do you mean they will get their hourly rate times 30? Or did you think anyone would look after 30 kids alone for minimum wage?

Angry regards.

A disgruntled childminder.

Natasha Leeding These are the stupidest ideas I have ever heard my eldest is 6 and is exhausted after the school day which finishes at 3.15!!! There is no way my children will be going to school till 6!!!! You are totally out of touch with the needs of children & there families!!!

Christine Clarke I have completely lost track of any logic in all these proposals! One example being that in my setting i can have a maximum of 6 under 8, which is there for good reason BUT in a school classroom i can have 30. Confused.com ???????

Lynsey Maughan Yes finally plans to extend school hours have been rejected,

However your proposals to get 2 year olds into schools & also to allow unregisteted & not police checked or paediatric first aid trained people to care for children for 3 hours a day are ongoing!!

2 year olds are still learning to communicate, still need daily sleeps or naps,wear nappys and ultimately are BABYS!!

Childminders have to be police checked, attend regular Safeguarding Training, be Paediatric First Aid Trained, majority are trained to level 3 & many more beyond to degree/honours level, risk assess their home & visits they go on, pay for public liability insurance, childminding insurance, business car insurance and do the job because they truly care, put everything into it including turning their homes into a wonderful fun & learning environments for children (which you would know if you accepted our invitations to visit us) & ensure the children in their care are fully supervised & safe, unregistered carers wont have to adhere to these regulations & we will return to an era of ‘behind closed doors’ we are already seeing a consequence of ‘different times’ with the present rape allergations, allowing this proposal for unregistered carers is consenting to risking the safety of children!

Susan Boulton Are you trying to put home based care with a registered childminder out of business. All your proposed changes are going to result in a lot of unemployed childminders claiming benefit. Also young children benefit more from a home based environment not an institution. It is ridiculous !!!!!

Hannah Ruth Louise Cook See how NO ONE agrees with these dangerous ideas Ms Truss? You will live to regret these proposals when you are out of a job due to loosing your party votes, and consequently power.

Melanie Connell Extending the school day is not the same as enhancing it!

Natalie Rusher Bump – we’re all waiting on your response!

Jenny Grossett as long as they are allowed to chill in the school premises as if they were at home or childminder does it matter too much especially if they are in a safe environment when parents cant collect and no one else can either ,better than walking the streets or am I thinking of the wrong age range here?

Margi Barlow Do you believe a huge school hall full of boisterous kids would be a homely, welcoming place for an exhausted 5 year old?

Lindsay Clayton Groups of 4-11 year olds (it includes reception children) cared for with a ratio of 1-30, & you really don’t see a safety issue with that apart from anything else? Of course the better off will still be able to pay for individual care, so it’s only the poorer families who will suffer again!

Donna Colclough Walker I trained to be a registered childminder so I could stay with my children and also offer other children a nurturing home environment. I follow all the rules, regulations and guidelines and keep myself up to date with all current policies to ensure I’m giving all the children in my care the very best and safest care. Opening childcare to any Tom Dick or Harriet is open to system abuse and child safety issues! Extending school hours is going to heavily impact on family life too. Please please rethink your proposals. Listen to the people it is going to affect.

Lisa Hamblin NO that is all!!!!!

Anne Arkell Are you ever going to reply to these comments and the thousands of emails and twitter comments sent to you? You are getting women and men back into the workforce as cheap labour by introducing even cheaper childcare that goes against everything YOUR government has demanded through safeguarding/child protection and insisting we ALL qualify to look after the next generation. Tell me why did you introduced EYT? why do you want us to report child abuse? Why did your government via the Nutbrown review decide only L3 qualified could look after children and that to do a L3 you needed GCSE grade C or above to get onto the courses AND NOW YOU ARE GOING BACK ON EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVED IN FOR THE 2012 EYFS REVIEW!!

Tim Hunt Oh Dear Ms Truss seems not everyone welcomed them…

http://www.politics.co.uk/…/michael-gove-s-plans-for…

Lesley Clarke If this comes in I’m just gonna home educate my son quite frankly because he won’t have a chance to play or even know who is mummy and daddy and we won’t know who are son is if he spends this amount of time in education i can kinda understand it for secondary school age but still enough pressure is on them I didn’t Create and give birth to a child to not be able to raise them this is wrong and unfair on all counts if there’s any protest bout this count me in please I agree with christine who I know and does a fab job

Christine Clarke Thanks for taking the time Lesley xx. Please share this, and if you want to know more there is info on FB One voice Page. Will post the t

Julie Webb Maybe you should communicate with people, families, childminders and carers outside of London. And see if they have an opinion. I for one haven’t seen the cost of childcare raising by 77%. I’m certainly not seeing any of this so called high costs. Average earnings or hour of a childminder outside of London is £3.50. We don’t do it for the money, we do it for the children, our future, the ones that you seem dead set on forcing into school at 2 years old and stopping any kind of family life and recreation whatsoever. You have this so wrong ms truss.

These comments are on Truss’s Monthly Report page (where she has reminded people to write to her at her Government email)

Claire Ingham Wow look parents even staring to comment, maybe OUR Voice is starting to be heard, now please maybe you should start to realise your mistake

Karen Smiler Warhurst maybe if you listened to the childcare sector, then minders and others wouldnt have to respond on here, try emailing you or/and the govt the only reply we get back is a bog standard letter… that wont help the children in todays society.. get reall wo…See More

Julie Claridge You seem to have total disregard or respect for us childminders, we work very hard and take pride in what we do. The last thing we are going to do is let you talk us down and take it away from us with the ludicrous idea of agencies you haven’t even had the decency to turn up to meetings for us to give our point of view and are intent on going ahead regardless of our views of wanting to stay independent to keep the respect and our grades which we have built up over the years with all my happy families. You can not keep referring to childcare costs increasing over the years either as If you had been to speak to childminders you will find that we don’t increase our costs and actually do what we do for the love of the job not to make money most childminders barely cover costs! I for one as a parent would never leave my child with anyone who hadn’t been individual inspections you will be leaving yourselves open to having all kinds of things being hidden under agencies!

Penny Webb Thank you for the reminder – we are emailing you at that email address, we are writing to you, we are tweeting you, we are commenting where ever we can. However we still don’t have the answers to our questions. The best way to stop all the letters, emails and comments – is simple – answer our questions. I have still to meet with or talk to ONE person – childminder, parent or other early years professional who is in favour of childminding agencies. If we (the ones expressing our concerns) are in the minority – and I don’t think we are – tell us HOW MANY people are in favour and tell us WHY they are in favour – maybe we have missed the ‘selling point’ of childminding agencies, maybe we are wrong and they won’t increase our costs and therefore those of parents – BUT if you don’t provide the information – we will continue to assume that you don’t have the answers to our questions and that no one is actually in favour of childminding agencies. ANSWERS PLEASE – AND NOW.

Childminder Mary Stewart Hewson DISGUSTED !!! Please tell me what is the point in e.mailing you Ms Truss to get a bog standard e.mail back what you will send same to everybody !! Ms Truss, I urge you to actually speak to childminders so that you can discover that none of us want agencies. How about you do us the courtesy of actually replying to our concerns Never mind about which email address to use we’re here. I will NEVER join an agency and childminders will not go down without a fight. COME ON LADIES THINK ITS TIME WE TOOK THIS TO TV,RADIO,PAPERS.ETC  And i have still not rec my letter Thankyou Mary Hewson Outstanding ofsted registered childminder Leeds !!

Amy WWhyte But Ms Truss you don’t reply. I am still waiting in anticipation for my generic, insult of a letter regarding childminding and why should we privately email you? Perhaps so we (childminders) can continue to be ignored, not to mention all the families you are failing with you highly opposed plans!

Debbie Webb I would like to know what gives you the right to be education minister when you don’t have the background in education? I’d like to know where you get your information from? It clearly isn’t the childcare sector as we are all against most, if not all, your plans! How can you comment on childcare when you don’t even do it yourself, you employ a nanny?! When will you actually answer the questions put to you time after time instead of wasting paper and money sending child minders a letter that yet again doesn’t actually give us the answers we need but more political crap?! I will now cut and paste this into an email and wait for your, or your minion’s, response.

Margaret O’Donnell I’ve been registered for over 30 years and haven’t even received a letter. Plus unlike Et I have a degree that relates to my job.

Amy WWhyte Same here, I’ve got a degree and a level 7 cert…why should I be at the disposal of an agency! I think you will find no parent, no childminders or children agree with Ms Truss plans! For pity’s sake I hope she ceases these silly ideologies…they are her ideologies alone, not ours!!!!!

Janet Stovold Would you reply with the facts and figures we need to have a knowledgeable opinion about joining agencies or remaining independent, instead of the meaningless letter you have sent out to all childminders?

Hazel Karen Clark Ms Truss please pull your head from out of the sand, accept your ideas will fail and accept defeat because we as childminder’s will NOT be defeated.

Your lack of communication shows you are running scared, turn round and have the decency to talk to us. STOP ignoring the future of our children!

Sue Williams Dear Mrs Truss people are reduced to contacting you via Facebook, as you seem to refuse to reply to any other form of communication, cancel meetings and just send standard replies to emails and letters. It appears you only want to listen to people who agree with your ideas about the changes for Childminders, and will not listen or consult with anyone who has a difference of opinion. You must realise we are entitled to this opinion, and that as an MP employed by us you have should be doing your job properly by listening. It seems to many of us that you are singlehandedly setting out to ruin all the hard work Childminders have put in over the last 10 years to raise their standards of professionalism. You do not seem to understand what is best for them, and the families and children they childmind for. Please stop now, get proper and correct information and consult with the people who can advise you. This is our lives, jobs and children you are messing with and we won’t go quietly.

Debbie Nye ms Truss you talk of affordable childcare well I can promise you, if i stay in the profession, as childminding is our ONLY income you will leave me no choice but to pass any cost of agencies onto parents bills thus raising the cost. Equally you talk of raising the amount of child minders, I am fortunate to be part of a childminding community that consists of childminders with many years experience, honours degrees and masters degrees each and every one is questioning their future in the profession as a direct result of YOUR changes. STOP LOOK LISTEN Ms Truss you are about to DESTROY childminding in this country!!!!!

Annelize Cruz Dear Ms Truss, if you read any of this please please please read this article – http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early..

Kerri Bishop I’ve just read that you’re going to Shanghai to pick up some tips on teaching maths to kids. Maybe while you’re there you could get them to explain to you how childminders and parents paying an agency cannot possibly reduce Childcare costs. It’s a fairly basic concept, but maybe you need a bit of help with the sums.

Anna Sewell STOP….LOOK and LISTEN Miss Truss, we DON’T want agencies. Why don’t you consult us childminders, as professionals before plowing on with your ill advised schemes????????

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read not even had the decency to reply to my email!

we wait with bated breath to see if you can actually start answering our queries

Debbie Webb Read this… http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Sam Littlejohns Think you forgot to add that if you are a childminder you will blatantly ignore their views and carry on regardless!

Amy WWhyte can anyone find the post I made in regards to a poll on Gloucestershire Childminders FB page? seems my comments may have gone! the poll has indeed shown that members are AGAINST childminding agencies and this opinion is not limited to Gloucestershire I think Ms Truss you will find it echoes all childminders opinions on your plans!

Shell Reaves Theres only 1 vote for you from me Ms Truss & “The Con-Dems” and that is a vote of NO CONFIDENCE!!! No you don’t represent mine or my families best interests and Stop interferring with educational & childcare matters and do something useful!!!!

Celine McGuire Please read and take heed http://www.independent.co.uk/…/give-childhood-back-to…

Rita Bee Well no letter here yet! But what a waste of Tax Payers money anyway! The letter tells us zero about how Agencies are going to run anyway nor does it tell us anything new. The letters should have been sent before it was put into social media anyway. Another Ministers muck up!!!

Amy WWhyte Did any of us minders actually ask you, Ms Truss, to bring in agencies to our profession? Ummm NO! So why are you exactly pursuing this nonsense? The facts speak for themselves; WE, (childminders, parents and children) DONT WANT OR NEED YOUR AGENCIES!!!!!

Debbie Webb Please leave the education system to someone who actually knows what they are doing!! STOP cherry picking things from around the world…first it was France, now China…Please STOP and actually LISTEN to the professionals and hold PROPER CONSULTATIONS and then act on the information given rather than just ignore it and carry on doing it your way regardless!! You are going to damage the next generation of children! I’m so glad mine are coming out of the education system!!http://www.independent.co.uk/…/education-minister…

Debbie Webb and yes, I have also sent an email…to which I will never get a reply, but it’s sent anyway

Sam Littlejohns That was for Ms TRuSs

Debbie Ford Great idea Mo Maureen Jones I like it. I have not yet met a single childminder or parent who is for agencies.

Rita Bee Come on Mrs Truss start to answer some of the questions you have been asked please we are all waiting to hear your side  

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read she can’t (or won’t) answer them

besides she is jaunting off to Shanghai!

Rita Bee She can access FB wherever she is. That is supposed to be the advantage of the internet.

Jane Bromfield As I thought – I do have the correct e-mail address. However when I use this e-mail address you do not answer. Please tell me how childminders are supposed to get into dialogue with you? As far as I know childminding agencies are coming yet I have no idea what they will look like, how they will be implemented, how they will be funded, etc. I am also yet to meet a fellow childminder who will join one.

Karen Smiler Warhurst You are making a mockery of the current govt and losing every bodies faith in the Conservative party ,,, no votes for this party next time round anyone agree forget conservative they only balls the system up

Kerri Bishop How about you do us the courtesy of actually replying to our concerns? Never mind about which email address to use, we’re here, right now, engage with us for pity’s sake!

Caroline Bond The whole of the early years and teaching sector; which includes childminders is totally against the set up of agencies, children starting school at 2, and attending school 8-6……..The latest ‘statistics’ stating childcare had gone up by 77% is complete rubbish. Most childminders have not put their fees up in years….if ever! Whereas,I think you will find that it’s differeny case with privately run nurseries…..staffed by people earning the min wage!

Childminders work tirelessly providing good quality childcare, nurturing, teaching and guidence…..you don’t get that in a nursery setting…..and yet you are trying to put us out of business. You will also find that childminders work longer hours and do their paperwork in their sparetime……As a childminder why would i need an agency? An unnecessary middleman! I generate my own work via word of mouth,reputation and through the adequate sytems already in place.

This is NOT a vote winner……..start listening to the people who know what works and why rather than trying to justify your position!

Liz Hawkey Childmimders are leaving by the thousands! They will be leaving by 10s of thousands if this ludicrous idea of agencies is implemented! We don’t want agencies! Parents don’t want agencies! But like all governments this one is not listening! We provide the service! Parents use the service! Listen to us!

Lisa Watson They want childminders to leave, thats been the agenda for the last 5 years

Rita Bee Yes I have said that for years as well. We are too expensive? Come on parents if you want to keep your choices for your childcare now is the time to speak out and stop the nonsense that Truss is planning. SHE IS GOING TO ROB YOU OF YOUR CHOICE PARENTS BE AWARE

Chantal Learmonth The letter about the agencies has not been clear about how they would benefit chilminders that are already set up…… Also not clear as to how it would reduce costs for parents if the agency needs paying as well. To whoever comes up with these ideas, they should be more informed with the facts!!!!

Tracy Jenkins I am a childminder that chargges £4 per hour & my nearest nursery charges £6.60 an hour ?? Your meddling with childminders will only drive up our prices, as we have to cover extra costs. By the way no one knows how much ofsted are going to charge us to be inspected independently and neither does anyone know how much agencies are going to charge ! What is clear is that ‘more affordable childcare’ will not happen but the opposite will & quality will go down – lets hope for all the childrens sake there are not any serious safeguarding issues that arise from this shambles of an idea. Purely a money making project in my opinion !

Chantal Learmonth I still have not had an answer to my question….. Would like to know how longer school days would benefit my boys when at the moment they spend at least 8 months of the year in the park after school. They were playing in the playground 5 years ago and as they grew up they have been changing their games to making dens…. The children have a different social circle after school and make use of immaginative play. This would be lost with longer school days and that is why I would like an explanation why the longer school day would be bette

Wendy Smart More Affordable Childcare? You obviously didn’t pay attention in mathematics at school Ms. Truss. Any good business person will tell you that adding a middleman into the equation will equal higher costs to all concerned. How condescending of you to suggest that childminders do not have the wherewithal to set up their own business, arrange their registration and find work. I managed it 7 years ago without too much trouble. All you are doing is driving good, experienced childminders away from the profession only to be replaced with low paid agency workers who lack the drive and knowledge to provide quality care to our young children. You evidently have no clue as to how the Childminder profession works, and you have made it abundantly clear you do not care either.

Bev Metcalf I have been a childminder for 10 years in all that time we as childminders have gone through each change each government body has put in place! I have never known so many changes as their have been with this government and such disrespect for the views of the childcare proffesonals that have been trying to contact you on issues you are railroading into place. We and parents are extremely concerned with the changes and are urging you to listen to the people who matter the parents and children who’s childhood will be lost in the institution of spending long hours at school and young children who will suffer from being at school at such a young age as you want to plan at the age of 2 years of age! These children will suffer due to lack of understanding the need for a more care while potty training for one reason and their are many more! You are trying to implement the ratios for 1 person for 30 children!? What happens if that one person has to deal with an emergency? We’re do the other 29 children go and with whom??? A big safety issue boiling their I think! I as a childminder have and always will put children FIRST and this is why I will not be joining a agency, I will NOT push up cost for Parents and my self to line a MIDDLE MANS pockets for your or their benefit!!! As Professional childminders who work for £3.50 per hour most times cannot understand you and this government push by media stating that childcare costs are high??? I do not know were you got your research from? But I suggest you SACK your researcher as they have informed you WRONGLY about the facts! I suggest you take up the offer of a meeting with Penny Webb and the other associations and NOT cancel like you have done twice!!! And listen to the people who do the job and who are looking after the children you are trying your best to ignore! This will not be a vote winner!

Maureen Jones If every single childminder , prospective childminder and parent have nothing to do with agencies then they will not be viable. Like if this is what you want.

Deb Wallington As an childminder who is has worked extremely hard to reach all the expectations given to me, I do have some queries and comments from the letter that you have apparently sent to us. Firstly, you mention that the number of childminders has declined in the last 20 years – this is due to the increases paperwork expected of us. You state that only 10% of us have accessed early education places – as an ‘outstanding’ grade I have never been approached to see if I can take any children despite saying that I can. You say that the set up cost include, creating a website, accountancy, marketing, car and house insurance – all of these do not have to cost anything or are necessary. You say how agencies would help with emergency cover, fill spaces more effectively, help and sustain and build their practice – as professional and hard working people we have all managed to cope so far without this. I have yet to met anyone, childminders or parents, who are in favour of agencies and cannot see how this is going to cut costs so, please can you explain how? When are you going to answer all the questions that we have put to you?

I cannot even begin to express my feelings on looking after 30 children at one time!!!!!!!

Mandy Morgan What are you doing? Ever heard of the saying, “don’t fix what isn’t broken? I have been a childminder since 2001 and during this time I have embraced everything that you have expected of me, in 13 years I have only raised my prices by 50p! and as an outstanding childminder, I provide a quality, homely and richly stimulating practise for any child in my care. An “agency” you seem so keen on enforcing has nothing at all to offer me, the children i care for or the parents of the children I care for. So what are you really trying to achieve?

Christine Clarke As someone is posting on your FB page, whether it is yourself or not,…..PLEASE HAVE THE COURTESY TO REPLY TO ALL THESE POSTS WITH GENUINE CONCERN AND GIVE US ACCURATE ANSWERS. Better still VISIT ONE OF THE MANY HUNDREDS OF CHILDMINDERS Who Have OFFERED , MYSELF INCLUDED !!

Caroline Bond Ps….everyone please keep your comments coming on Truss’s facebook page for everyone to see….emailing her gets a limited audience…..perhaps that is what Truss wants…..

Sharon Camara Elizabeth Truss, I am a childminder and have been since 2006, I am qualified to level 5 as I have now completed my Early Years foundation Degree. I do apologise if I’ve missed something but I have not seen a letter from you, apparently you have written to childminders!! As I have received any information about your ideas, plans, thoughts, or whatever they are, through drip fed information rather than anything official or concrete. I would just like to first point out I will not be joining an agency, secondly I am a little confused over the extended school day that you are wanting for our children, and apparently you would also like childminders to work with schools on this subject. Are you saying that when schools finished at approx 3pm, as childminders we would do what exactly with the children we care for under school age?? So we could pop along to the schools to look after 30 children on our own! Then there is the question of school holidays; who, how and where would we look after the children with age ranges from 6 months to 14 years. This is a genuine concern of mine and unless you have answered this question already I do think it needs your thought and your answering. I very much look forward to your reply on this matter. Thank yo

Carolyn Randell Ms Truss we are educated professionals and will not be silenced. We are business women and men also. I fail to see how your proposals would benefit anyone at all. I am surprised that yourself as a mother could suggest such proposals. I am also surprised that being as educated and having looked at your career path, that you are unable to respond to my fellow childminders whom I highly regard.

Amy Bergmann Nneb Childminder Ms truss seems to have no idea and doesn’t seem to listen at all her letter was completely pointless and answered non of the questions!! I’d rather home school my children than send them to school that many hours!!! As for childminders charging too much that’s rubbish I charge 3 pound an hour…. Less for siblings so somedays I’m on much less than min wage! Ms truss ‘s ridiculous ideas actually scare me… What on earth are u trying to do to our children!!!!!?????

Lucy Wilkins Ms Truss, I have been childminding for 23 years, my current Ofsted grade is Outstanding. Over the years I have considered gaining further qualifications, eg EYPS or a degree, but when I sat down and thought seriously about it, I didn’t feel that any further qualification would benefit the children more than my 23 years experience, which continues to grow year after year. All the time and effort would not give me a higher wage and I so decided not to burn the candle at both ends. I also wondered how many other people with degrees work for the princely sum of £3.50 an hour, I am certain that you wouldn’t even bother to get out of bed for that wage. I know you will say that we earn more than that because we can have more children, but there will always be times when our hourly rate is that low. This September for instance three of my ‘Under five’ Children will be leaving me for full time education, and so until my spaces are filled I will indeed be working a full day for £3.50 an hour. No wonder everyone is feeling so demoralised – pitifully low wages, losing our individual inspections, being forced into having a middle man (eventually) to increase our expenses (which will ultimately increase our costs to parents), and a Minister for Childcare and Education who really doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about. When I take the children out for a walk and we have to cross a road I teach them to ‘STOP, LOOK, LISTEN’ – maybe you should take a leaf out of their book and implement this safety measure yourself, as you really are crossing a very busy road at the moment!

Amy Bergmann Nneb Childminder She’s like a modern day child catcher… Gather up all the little children and shut them in schools for as long as possible!

Lisa Jackson-Jones As a parent and a childminder I find everything you are trying to bring in, from agencies for childminders to extending the school hours, completely abhorrent. I am yet to hear of anyone who has had a personal reply from you when they have expressed their views or indeed asked questions on the proposed changes. Why are you not listening to the people this is going to affect the most. Neither parents nor childminders are in favour of agencies or longer school hours.

Angie Brobyn WE DONT WANT AGENCIES. Why don’t you listen! We are all Professional INDEPENDENT Childminders who provide love, care and affordable childcare. If you insist on agencies, unfortunately there won’t be any childminders on their lists to offer parents as we would have all given up! How embarrassing would that be?!

Paula Roberts I have taken the time to read each and every one of the above comments and strongly recommend you Ms Truss do the same and LISTEN! I am a registered Childminder and like everybody else in this profession I am AGAINST AGENCIES as are all of the parents for which I provide care for! Equally as a parent I am also AGAINST your ludicrous idea to make school days longer! I will NOT join an agency, none of us need a middleman to take credit for the businesses that we have built up with our hard work and dedication! You need to start answering the questions that we are all asking you and LISTEN to the people that matter…Childminders and Parents

Jess Nash I am a childminder and think the idea of agencies is ridiculous. Let alone making CHILDREN go to school for 10 hours a day. I think the government has lost the plot. They aren’t robots.

Claire McLoughlin As a parent to 3 children I think the idea of sending my children to school from 9-6 each day to be ludicrous. Myself and my husband both work full time so when we pick up our children we enjoy family time together. We value this time together immensely and cannot stress enough how important this time is for families to share.

I do not find this to be acceptable to send my children to school for this ridiculously long period. My children have always come home from school exhausted from how hard they have concentrated all day, ready for a snack and ready to PLAY. Playing has always been emphasised to be a vital component in how children learn and you want to take that away from them? My children and the children if this nation NEED FAMILY time and PLAY time. They do not need to go to school for these ridiculously long hours. What happened to all the studies suggesting that we actually stop learning after 20 minutes without a break. Surely you must take into account the science of learning and see that you will not provide a better education by enforcing these new hours just disgruntled teachers who don’t want to be there, disgruntled parents who want to spend time with their children and worse off the children exhausted and missing out on family time and their extra curricular activities but is that what this government actually desires?

I also must point out that as I work full time I already feel I do not see my children enough, I already miss out on assemblies and plays, please do not make me miss out on raising my children altogether. I have not had 3 children for someone else to raise them, I love my family and put great efforts into raising my children well. I do not want to pick them up from school and put them to bed ready only to do it all again and not see them during my working week. This government puts no value on family particularly the working class, it’s obviously expendable to you well it’s NOT to us and we will stand side by side to keep our family time safe and to keep play time as a part of children’s lives.

One last thought before I go, I have heard many, many parents who are now considering home schooling as an alternative to your proposed new school hours. These are WORKING people who will obviously have to LEAVE their JOBS and become dependant upon the state in order to do this. Consider the impact of that!

Rachel Miles I became a self employed childminder to be self employed. I am perfectly able to market, my business is doing well via word of mouth, parents want a chilminder who comes recommended, this will always be the case, regardless of other options available. I receive excellent advice, support and training from my local EY consultants and I trust them not to have a hidden agenda. I will never join an agency, why should I pay someone to do a job I’m perfectly able to do myself? If by not joining an agency, I am priced out of chilminding, I will leave the profession. That’s probably what I’ll need to do anyway, to concentrate on home schooling my children, who will attend 8-6 over my dead body  Don’t get me wrong, I am a reasonable person, I think change can be a good thing, but not in these cases. Education is the most interfered with profession in the country, pupils and teachers are all affected by the whims of government at the time and no one curriculum is given time to be embedded. Its a total shambles! If you are reading this, and interested in the opinion of a nobody like myself, please pass on to Mr Gove, to consider instead of forcing longer school days and creating agencies, please just increase the budget of current providers so they can provide better enrichment for children themselves. Cut out the middlemen and spend money where it is needed – on the ground!

Vera Wade What is the point in posting your email address when it is obvious you dont actually want childminders to email you and if we do you have no intention of or indeed do not have the common courtesy to reply! I hope you come to your senses soon. Too many people will suffer from your bad ideas, childminders parents but most of all children! I fail to understand why you cant see what we see! A big massive faliure about to happen

Elly Gait I can not add anything else…I completely agree with everything that has been so eloquently said. I do not want agencies.

Andy Dallibar We don’t need agencies! ,             

Amy Bergmann Nneb Childminder Ps I also will not be joining an agency!!!!

Paula Chambers Perhaps you should find some time to read this very interesting article about the negative impact ‘early learning’ has on children! http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Emma Dales No Thank you to agencies! I earn a lot less than the minimum wage! Agencies or increased fees would force me out of childminding and therefore I would have to go on JSA is that what the government wants????

Carolyn Simpson Its all be said so often please listen nobody except you thinks agencies are a good idea please stop your plans now

Jo Shakespeare As a childminder I have many sleepless nights about where you want lead childcare practise over the next few years. What scares me most is the seemingly underhand way that this is being done, sneaking things in under the radar, but maybe this is just how politics works. I just want you to know that I will do my utmost to oppose More Great Childcare, eventually I hope enough parents will understand the reality of what it is you are trying to implement because I get the impression it will be their opinions that you listen more than ours. Instead of battling us why can’t you work with us and ask us for our input on the future of childcare (and by us I mean nursery workers, school teachers and local authority workers – we’re all generally underpaid and therefore passionate about what we do). We have a wealth of experience that you seem to be ignoring

Jennifer Withers Ms Truss I have emailed you to that address but am still waiting to received a reply which answers the direct questions that I have asked. The main question is as, I and all the other childminders of my acquaintance have no intention of joining an agency, how much will it be to remain independently registered with Ofsted? For childminders due to renew their Ofsted registrations in July and August, will they get a full year at the current price of £35? If so I will pay early for my next 12 months. If not, how is this fair for childminders whose registrations fall due in September? These are the questions you should be answering to allow us to make plans.

Lesley Clarke What’s all this about as very interested in the matter as have a young boy can someone fill me in please thanks

Rita Bee Lesley Mrs Truss is trying to change the very successful way that childmuinders work by adding a layer of bureaucracy to apparently reduce our paperwork and reduce costs to the parent? However this extra layer is not needed and will only increase childcare costs to the parents and reduce their choice. See this website http://togetherforquality.com/

Natalie Drewry As a parent, and also in the process of setting up as a childminder, I’m shocked at the proposals you put forward! Without getting into all the nitty gritty, in every single one of your ideas you’ve forgot 1 crucial factor THE CHILDREN!

Becky Cooper I would like you to explain how 1 childcare worker can look after 30 afterschool children. Have you tried it? Have you actually been and looked at how difficult that would be, have you asked the people who would be expected to do this? Do you expect all the children to sit at desks when they have been at school for 6hrs. Have you thought about all the energy that these children have? Also, why are you trying to drive Childminders out of business? I have been working with children for 20yrs and what you are trying to do is sheer madness

These comments are from a post about a long waited road scheme

Wendy Dimler Dear Ms Truss,

I would like to inform you that as an outstanding childminder I think the whole concept of childminding agencies is ill thought out, it is not wanted or needed and it will not save parents money which seems to be the idea behind it.

I am…See More

Wendy Dimler Shameful that childminders have to resort to posting on your facebook page as you yet again fail to engage with us regarding agencies

Linda Jennings Ms Truss………….yet another meeting you were supposed to hold with Childminders has been cancelled!!!! It is disgusting that we have to post onto a social media page because of your failure to meet and listen to Childminders…………..i am a me…See More

Sue Viner Shame there is not a dislike button on this page. My letter will be following. The way you are treating Registered Childminders in this country is diabolical. You have no idea how we work !

Claire Ingham Dear Ms Truss

It is with passion and regret that I feel I have to put pen to paper about the childminding agencies implementation from September 2014….See More

Childminder Mary Stewart Hewson Shameful that childminders have to resort to posting on your facebook page as you yet again fail to engage with us regarding agencies. I am outstanding childminder i work really hard and all children in my care are thriving and very bright. Ms Truss do…See More

Linda Jennings i forgot to mention the idea of working with the schools to stay open for the children 8am – 6pm…..you really dont like childminders do you!!!!! young children dont need to be in school that long!!!! Go and pick a few infants up from school after a 9am – 3.30pm day there and see how shattered some of them are, thats when they need to be in a home from home setting!!

Claire Ingham YET AGAIN MS TRUSS YOU HAVE CANCELLED YOUR MEETING TO HEAR CHILDMINDERS QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS ABOUT AGENCIES. You would have received an enormous amount of letters from childminders, but instead we are having to resort to posting on your facebook page to get our letters seen. PLEASE let the press get hold of this too

Katie Wells I’ve been a registered childminder since 2007. I was graded Outstanding in 2008 and 2013 and work to an extremely high standard. I achieved this grade through sheer hard word, determination and by setting myself high standards to keep to. Over the year…See More

Fran Greatorex-Childminder I am also against childminding agancies. It is truly shameful that you cancel a meeting at the last minute again – completely oblivious to the upset and inconvenience caused to those concerened, not to mention the inconvenience to parents!! How shamefu…See More

Kerri Bishop Ms Truss, I am writing to express my dismay that you have for the second time cancelled a meeting that was due to take place this week regarding the introduction of childminding agencies. You seem to be oblivious to the strength of feeling within the c…See More

Jennifer McQuillan Dear Ms Truss,

Firstly, I have to say how incredibly disappointed and saddened I (and my fellow colleagues) are that you have cancelled our round table meeting this week. I was looking forward to meeting you to finally (hopefully!?) get some answers a…See More

Lu La I find it interesting that we can’t post on the wall, we have to post on comments!

expect my email to come to you in response to your letter and you messing about Penny! Will you ever listen to the public?

Margaret O’Donnell Well so much for the letter that we childminders were all supposed to receive from you. Mine never arrived. To me this is an indication that you really don’t care about childminders or their opinions in general and that regardless of the comments and…See More

Karen Smiler Warhurst Childcare minister!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! !!! come and be A CHILMINDER FOR A FEW DAYS, THEN YOU MAY UNDERSTAND WHERE EVERYONE IS COMING FROM. How can you suggest all these ideas, without looking after children in the society we are today, red tape, beurocra…See More

Jo Murray I understand you have cancelled a meeting with Penny Webb who represents a lot of childminders across the UK – she was going to pass onto you our replies to your open letter to childminders as this meeting isn’t going ahead here is an extract from my l…See More

Alison Dover I have emailed you, with an attached letter, however, I would very much like to ask again for the figures ypu have to back up your claims that introducing childminder agencies will reduce childcare costs for parents. You keep stating it as a fact, an…See More

Jo Walker My name is Joanne Walker and I am an Ofsted registered childminder. I have been a childminder for three years and received a grading of Outstanding from Ofsted in 2011. I went into childminding because of my love of working with children and felt my kn…See More

Debbie Charnock-Jones Can I also add that I am absolutely appalled, but unfortunately not surprised, at the sheer lack of consideration even contempt you have shown in your blasé cancellation of meetings with Penny Webb and other child-minder’s. Children’s, families, child-…See More

Cathy Magicminding Smith Dear Ms Truss

I write in regard to the letter being sent out in regard to childminder agencies that is currently available to view online….See More

Debbie Southern Whilst I can see that you are looking at childcarers that are not up to scratch and getting inadequate or requires improvement gradings, when are you going to see that Childminders are a viable option that consistently achieve higher gradings. We can help you achieve better care and education for children but not if you alienate us. Please intergrate and involve us.

Rachael Fullelove As an independent childminder I would just like to say that I (along with these people commenting) disagree with your changes and fail to see how introducing agencies could make for ‘more affordable childcare’ – I would just like to say that the word ‘chaotic’ is better suited to your madcap ideas

Debbie Charnock-Jones For the attention of Elizabeth Truss

I suspect from the tone of the policy you have proposed and manner in which you have proposed it that you initially misunderstood the nature and underestimated the dedication, professionalism and passion of most ch…See More

Jean Kemp I am an outstanding registered childminder with over 20 years experience. I have emailed you my concerns and misgivings over the ill conceived plan to introduce childminder agencies. I fully support the comments made by my colleagues. I would like to k…See More

Sarah Lovell …… Your a very busy lady we get that; however we are all very busy too, busy running our own businesses, families, doing eyfs paperwork, accounts etc we do all this because we love what we do, were not in it to make a fast buck, as we don’t earn th…See More

Sarah Lovell Also we do not need agencies we have a great support system we all help each other & we are capable of finding our own work by advertising locally & word of mouth, recommations go along way. I’ve gone from 1 client to 10 in 1 year from my own advertising & parents like to make the most important choice themselves.

Zoe Rhymes Registered Childminder Dear Ms Truss,

I would like to start by saying that I find it incredibly interesting that I cannot post directly on your page and have to resort to posting as a comment. Could this possibly be so that you can do a mass delete when you don’t like such…See More

Sue Ansell Oh how convenient. A page for Elizabeth Truss which noone can actually write their feelings on. I’m sorry, you may be a minister, but that doesn’t mean you understand REAL people and REAL situations. I would like you to come and visit my setting for a …See More

Mandie Jeffrey Ms Truss, it seems to me you are very miss informed, I hope you take the time to read the posts here, and any emails you may have received! Ignoring the fact we as childminders are not interested in your agency should give reason to re concider….. Yo…See More

Adele Berry Dear Mrs Truss,

First and foremost let me say that your ‘drive’ to establish agencies will be doomed to failure….See More

Sarah Lovell May I say, when I read you cancelled your meeting with Penny Webb, and before that rescheduled I was not amused.

Childminder Mary Stewart Hewson In case any one else has not seen it, this is the Letter PACEY sent to The House of Commons on 27th January:

Dear Member of the House of Lords,

Clause 74 of the Children and Families Bill: Childminder agencies…See More

Hazel Karen Clark Do you block childminder’s on Twitter because you feel we are a threat to your ludicrous plans?

Sarah Beachcomber Cunningham Davis Hi, I am an Ofsted registered childminder based in Kent and I am aghast at the thought of childminder agencies, it is a level of bureaucracy that we just do not need. Also I am registered to accept free funding and the amount paid is £3.95 per hour – w…See More

Adele Berry I might as well put my letter on your FB page. Many childminders gave up their day to meet you. They had to inconvenience parents and then you don’t have the decency to meet them! Shame on you!

Sarah Underhill One Question – Why are you insisting on trying to fix something that really isn’t broken?

Time to stand down, resign, admit you have no idea what you are doing, let the children be children and grow into well rounded adults with the ability to think for themselves as opposed to little robots that the government have made

Helen Strudwick Childminding NO thanks to working with schools to care for 30 children , what about the younger children we may have and our own young children . Childminding is about home based quality childcare, I have received Outstanding on my last 2 inspections. Quality does …See More

Vicky Dipmeinchocolate Read You NEED to meet with childminders, you NEED to listen to us and consult with us properly

Its disgraceful that you have now cancelled two meetings – wasting a lot of people’s time – that demonstrates you do not have a clear understanding of how childmi…See More

Laura Goldie Bottom line – doesn’t matter if we decide to remain independent – the changes that you are wanting to bulldoze through are going to affect ALL our businesses. Because of this, the very least you could do is engage with us.

Debbie Ford Dear Ms Truss, The childminding community and parents would like more information on agencies. I agree Penny Webb.

Debbie Webb Please leave the education system to someone who actually knows what they are doing!! STOP cherry picking things from around the world…first it was France, now China…Please STOP and actually LISTEN to the professionals and hold PROPER CONSULTATIONS…See More

Debbie Webb http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Annelize Cruz Please take the time to read this Ms Truss – http://www.imfcanada.org/…/nurturing-children-why-early…

Childminder Mary Stewart Hewson SHOCKED CHILDMINDER COMMENTS ARE STILL HERE THOUGHT THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN REMOVED BY NOW LOL

Lu La Are you going to continue to ignore us until we’re stamped out and you win your silly game?!!! you are ruining people and you don’t seem to give a shit.

Penny Webb I think you may be beginning to realise that the childminding community are fed up of not being listened to. I have almost 200 letters (and rising) some short and to the point, some 5,6 or 7 pages long – all against childminding agencies. Despite appea…See More

Lisa Edwards Dear Ms Truss,

I am a childminder working in West Yorkshire and am writing to express my considerable concern about your childminding agency initiative.

Firstly I am appalled at the lack of consultation that has taken place with actual childminders. I have yet to find one single childminder who supports the agency model and I come into contact with many in my role as peer support adviser, local childminder network meetings, managing a local cooperative childminding group and also as a member of various professional online groups and sites.

Secondly I challenge your assertion that agencies will reduce costs for childminders and childcare fees for parents. This is simply impossible and you have yet to definitively state how you see this happening. It will in fact see costs rise as agency fees and Ofsted inspection fees / training for independent childminders will need to be recouped from somewhere and the only way to do so will be to increase hourly rates to parents.

Thirdly the quality issue – agency childminders will no longer be individually inspected they will automatically receive their agencies overall grading. You say that agencies and a sample of their childminders will be inspected by Ofsted instead, surely this is a serious safeguarding loop hole? How do you know for sure they each and every setting is of the same quality as the agency grading? There will be zero Ofsted visits, zero LA visits, zero peer support visits for a vast majority all will be replaced by a member of agency staff visiting.

This is highly concerning, I can guarantee that the vast majority of childminders who do eventually join an agency will be either newly registering (they will assume there is no other option as LA support and entry way into childminding is pulled) or substandard (wanting to stop Ofsted inspections and cant get business due to reputation).

Experienced, passionate, dedicated and effective childminders will most definitely not join an agency. Why pay fees to have our hard earned individual Ofsted grading stripped from us, our reputation and word of mouth recommendations will no longer matter as parents are ‘matched’ with us by the agency, pride in our setting and the services we offer disappears as there is no longer any incentive to better our beloved own small business?

You are going to end up with agencies stuffed with inexperienced and less than committed childminders, is that what you really want? It’s not we as a profession or parents want.

I haven’t even begun to talk about the 2 yr funding which in your words should be in high quality settings, how will this be proven under the agency model?

Finally I have read your letter that is going out to all childminders and would ask that you at least credit us with some intelligence, simply rolling out the same party lines without answering any of our real concerns is extremely patronising and shows what little grasp of our professional field you have.

You cannot keep ignoring a tidal wave of opinion like this.

Yours, Lisa Edwards

Robyn Brockie As a recent graduate from the University of Leeds with First class honours in BA Childhood Studies I would like to tell you that you are recklessly messing with the early care and education of our children and causing untold stress and worry for many of the hard working and caring people who do these difficult jobs every day. Stop thinking you are the only one who knows anything and that you are more important than the people who do the jobs you are ruining!

Cheryl Page Re: childminder agencies

Ms Truss

I am an Ofsted registered childminder with a GOOD grading , I have worked as a childminder for a year and a half now and am enjoying tweaking my business in order to suit the needs of myself, my family and the children in my care. I am very proud of my little business and the success that it is becoming.

I am writing to you with concerns regarding the government reforms in relation to the childcare sector.

Firstly, I feel the letter you sent out to ‘all childminders ‘ is somewhat lacking in information. You have outlined the changes that you wish to make, however, you have not explained how these will work and the hidden costs that are inevitably involved. (Although I have heard the possibilities)

In your letter you mention the set up costs of becoming a childminder, of course they are fairly high and it does take time, quite rightly so too, this is an important job and it should not be taken on lightly, taking time to set up and weigh up whether you actually want to do this job means that it is less likely for people to set up on a whim and put children at risk. My question is this; how does joining an agency change any of this? Not only will people have to pay the supposed £800 to set up, they will also have to find the money to pay an agency fee should they be joining one. This surely makes it more expensive to set up?

You state in your letter that “Where childminders choose to join an agency they will be offered business and marketing support, providing them with all they need to register as a childminder…” I’m not entirely sure why you think providers need to join an agency in order to receive this kind of support, when the local authorities already offer it!? “Agencies will also offer childminders access to training, including statutory training” Again, why? LA’s already provide this. What about those (and from what I hear that is most!) childminders who wish to stay independent, where do they get their training from? Are they to settle for second best and lower quality training, or worse, none at all!? Is this the kind of loop hole that will make it impossible for it to be a childminder if you are not a part of an agency? At the moment, you say it is voluntary to join an agency, but how long will this last? How difficult are you going to make it for us to stay independent, equally how long will it be before you make it mandatory?

As we are already able to access help and support to set up and stay SELF-EMPLOYED as a childminder, why do you feel the need to change the way things are at the moment when they work perfectly well!?

I understand that you are trying to reduce the cost of childcare by introducing these agencies, I fail to see how this would work. If you join an agency, there is a joining fee and it has been circulated that this figure will be in the hundreds, and if you choose to stay independent then there will be a fee to stay registered with Ofsted, which is also rumoured to be in the hundreds – where will this extra money come from? Childminders do not earn enough to be able to cover this extra cost! I charge £3.00 an hour, please tell me where in that budget the extra hundreds would come from!? The only option is to pass this cost onto the parents, who already struggle to pay for their childcare due to the way the economy is right now. You state in your letter that you want to encourage more people to become childminders as there aren’t enough, well firstly I’d love to know where your research came from as in my small village there are an abundance of childminders; secondly I really don’t see how introducing more hoops to jump through and much bigger costs for those who would like to be childminders will encourage anybody to want to build up a business in this field.

I am really concerned with your proposed ‘blanket grading’ for childminders who join an agency. How can you ensure that all of the childminders in an agency meet the necessary safeguarding and quality standards, when they will be group inspected – yes the minders who are inspected will have to meet these, but who’s to say that a minder who is in the agency but not directly inspected does meet these criteria. Why should a childminder that has worked hard to attain an outstanding grade, share that with somebody who has not bothered to put the effort in and would only have got a ‘requires improvement’ on an individual inspection. Likewise, why should somebody who has worked hard to attain an outstanding grade be marked down to a requires improvement because they weren’t directly inspected and those who were, failed to reach outstanding – this is neither fair nor an accurate reflection of each childminders work.

With regards to agencies helping childminders to fill their spaces and parents to find a suitable childminder for their families needs; as a self-employed childminder I want to be the one that chooses who comes into my setting and there are no guarantees that in an agency we will be able to do this; there are a lot of things to consider when taking on potential new children to care for including whether or not they get on with the children already in your care and do they fit in with our needs and those of our families.

I feel the need to say a few lines about your plan to extend the school hours in order to accommodate working parents; to provide childcare for them. Can I just say – HELLO, CHILDMINDER HERE! Is this not what your whole letter is about!? Trying to ensure that there are enough childminders to go around for the working parents, and yet here you are trying to take away their business! I know plenty of childminders who only provide wrap-around care for school age children, how is taking their business away going to help with your so called plight to recruit more! By introducing these agencies, you are potentially taking more parents out of work (us childminders), as in order for them to be able to go back to a 9-5 job they will then need childcare, how is that possible when you are potentially putting them all out of business!?

I am certainly never going to join an agency, and if there comes a point where I cannot continue independently, then I shall have to look for employment elsewhere, where I won’t be able to be around for my own children which is one major reason as to why I became a childminder in the first place. That will be one less childminder, even though you are trying to recruit more, and one more dent in the already fragile economy!

Caroline Bond I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the comments mentioned previously about the unnecessary implementation of childcare agencies…..definately NOT a vote winner either!

Sarah Vizard I agree with Debbie Woodhouse completely. I think it’s disgraceful that trials are going ahead without any consultation with existing childminders. It appears that you view us as second rate care givers, when in fact many of us are more qualified and committed than nursery staff. We chose to become self employed for a reason and to have an MP dictate how we run our business is outrageous. I know there are many thousands of childminders who feel that agencies would impact negatively on the future of childcare. I also realise that spending my time making my feelings known to you will be a waste of time and you will disregard them.

Lesley Wright Words cannot express how insulted I feel having read your letter reguarding childminding agencies. You have repeatedly refused to answer our questions and far from improving childcare, if you persist in going through with this agency thing, you will singlehandedly have dismantled child care in this country. What a legacy for you. Please talk to is before you move forward with this scheme. We do understand that this industry needs to change and evolve but it can only happen with us on your side.

Jayne Bush Dear Ms Truss, I would like to tell about my our day, my husband and I are both childminders. At 7.45am our first 2 children arrive and have breakfast by 8.15am another 6 have joined us making a total of 10 children including my own 2. Their ages range between 2 yrs to 11yrs. We have painted our nursery rhyme windows for our chatterbox challenge, baked cupcakes, made chocolate heart lollipops, been to the park, climbed the bendiest tree ever ever, been on a bear hunt in a real live forest, and fed real ducks. We have had hot chocolate with squishy marshmallows and home made cookies, decorated chatterbox cupcakes, beaten super mario in a race, built a den in the play room, had a dance competition, painted valentines pictures, been sent to the head teacher for talking in class ( this was me  ), had cuddles, giggles and changed nappies. We had lunch, bought lovely sparkly shoes from our home made shoe shop, made up our own nursery rhyme and taught it to the little ones as part of our chatterbox challenge, played indoor football, opened a bakery and sold cupcakes, read stories, played with baby bug stickers, started to design our indoor forest from things collected earlier today, had a lovely home cooked dinner and some fabulous quiet time to end our fun packed educational day. I love my job but MORE IMPORTANTLY my children love coming to my HOMEBASED setting. Please can you tell WHY and HOW you think these children would do better in a school with a class of 30 other children??? I can not believe they will be better off or better cared for but please feel free to try and convince me. Oh and we also raised £45 for the chatterbox challenge charity which my husband and I have doubled. NOT a bad day for ‘ just ‘ a childminder??

Justine Emma Marriott I have recently left teaching to become a childminder. I have 18 years of experience of working with young children. I have a degree in psychology and a teaching qualification (and lots of further training). I decided to become a childminder because I felt that I could transfer some of my skills and experience from teaching to childminding. I have been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of most childminders I’ve met since joining this profession. I have also been impressed with the training and support provided by my local authority. I am strongly opposed to your proposed changes to the profession (ie agencies) and also to the changes to childcare in general (longer hours in school). As most people commenting here are, I am very experienced in working with young children and I know that children do better spending time in a home environment. Your proposals seem ill thought out and entirely based on a whim. Where is the evidence and research into how children learn best? What is your agency plan based on? (I’m quite sure if anyone else was going to set up a business like this they would be asked what they’d based their proposals on!). Unfortunately, like your colleague Mr. Gove, your proposals seem entirely based on your own opinions and are ill thought out. It’s a great shame that neither of you takes the time to listen to the professionals working in the field when you’re making your decisions. I wonder how many of the agency’s will be headed by Tory members or donors? I hope that the general population will realise that far from trying to make childcare more affordable for the average working parent this is just another attempt at undermining the social fabric of our society to line the pockets of your rich chums. I do not believe that you are in the least bit interested in helping working families. If you were you would have consulted with them before deciding to dismantle a long established sector.

Yours disgusted,

Justine Marriott

Amanda Wilkins Dear Mrs Truss,

> I am a childminder, I have an NNEB qualification and have worked in many childcare settings over the years including day nurseries and as a room leader in a pre school. I can honestly say that childminding is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had, I do more paperwork and activities than I have ever done in any role. I am very proud of my job, I have worked very hard over the last few years to set up my business and build a good reputation in my area. I am horrified at your agency plan. It is ill advised and will help neither parents or childminders. I have just had a baby myself so will only have space for one full time child when I return to work as I have a toddler too. There is no way I will be able to afford agency fees earning such a small amount. The cost will have to be passed on to parents. We already receive support from our local authorities (which is being cut left, right and centre!) so don’t need agencies for this. Childminders need individual inspections to maintain standards and ensure the safety of children, this will not happen with agencies. I am not even going to address the ludicrous plans to push our two year olds into schools and the strange desire to keep our children in schools for stupidly long days! Anyone with basic childcare knowledge knows how detrimental these moves would be for our young people.

>

> I do not and will not support your agency plan.

>

> Yours sincerely,

>

> Amanda Wilkins

Carina Nash Every one of these comments represents the viewpoint of EVERY SINGLE CHILDMINDER I have the pleasure to know and work with. We will not join your agencies, we have worked hard to establish our businesses and i fail to see how introducing agencies that will have no funding from the government will help parents. Your letter – that I still have not received – States nothing we haven’t heard already. Consult the childminders before you jeopardise not only your own reputation but the reputation of your government. I, for one, will not be voting to keep in the current government at the next election. The others couldn’t make it any worse than you already have.

Kristina Strömberg Dear Ms Truss,

I have been working as a Ofsted registered childminder for the past 8 years,and have built up a strong reputation within my local community,I even get calls from pregnant mother’s to be asking if they can put their unborn children on my waiting-list,and I get a constant stream of calls from parents requiring childcare.

I am very much against the idea of childminding agencies ,just like every single childminder and parent who I have spoken to about this issue.

These are the reasons why :

No established childminder requires any help in running any aspect of their business. I think that I can speak for us all when I say that we have spent years building up our businesses and our reputations,we all have systems in place to stay on top of the administrative side of our businesses so that it doesn’t interfere with us caring for the children,basically,our businesses are running like clockwork.Therefore we do not want or need any help with running our businesses as there is simply no requirement for it.

I do fear that by introducing these childminding agencies,there will be a two tier system which will not benefit us independent childminders in any way,shape or form,and us independent childminders have worked too hard to lose the status that we have obtained over the years.

Through work and through local schools and community centres, I come in contact with many parents,all of whom are opposed to using a childminder via one of these agencies.Their argument is that they strongly believe that each childminder should be individually inspected by Ofsted. Also,they do not wish to deal with a “middle man” aka a childminding agency, but much prefer the personal approach of dealing directly with a childminder .Like one parent said “If we wanted the impersonal approach,we would simply have chosen a nursery setting over a childminder !” which says it all.

I cannot see any positives coming from introducing these childminding agencies,and frankly,I believe that the money invested in this scheme could have been far better spent on training and support for existing childminders.I hope that you will take our views onboard.

Bel Windmill On your profile picture you are holding a sign saying ” The courage of a ‘few’ is as operationally relevant today as it was 70 years ago”

Are you challenging us Childminders – Ms Truss? It seems you are not listening to us, or the needs of children. I am embarrassed for you, you obviously haven’t got your own shame!

Val Smith Powell having to put this on here as you cancelled the arranged meeting.

I have been a registered childminder for 19 years so have seen many changes in that time. However I love my work, and enjoy being self employed and being in control of how I run my business within the guidlines, which I have been happy to adapt to through out all the amendments that have been made over the years. I am totally stunned that you are introducing agencies. I am totally against joining and agency and can see no benefit to childminders or parents. I have followed all the information as it has been released, but nothing has convinced me of the benefit to joining an agency. I read that you state it will help reduce costs of childcare to parents. There is no way this can be true, adding a ‘middle man’ into any business will increase costs as its someone else that has to be paid or make a profit. Someone will have to pay these fees to the agency, if its the parent then it means they are paying more than if they chose a childminder another way. If its the childminder- they would have to increase their fees to cover this additional expense. Most childminders earn the equivalent to the minimum wage, some more some less, but none make big enough amounts to be able to spare any extra.

Another thing I have read is that an agency will give parents more choice. I have to say that is an absolutely ridiculous statement to make. At the moment parents have the choice of ALL registered childminders by contacting their family information service. An agency WILL NOT have ALL childminders joining it so the parent will have less choice not more.

I have read that childminders that join an agency will not necessarily be inspected by Ofsted. That causes me huge concern. As much as having an inspection isn’t the nicest way to spend our time, it is very important. It helps the childminder by giving them a grading and a report, which helps parents make a decision about choosing us. It also helps us to improve our service by showing us any areas of weakness that we need to improve upon. More importantly Ofsted find childminders that aren’t up to the required standard and need further action taken. If the only inspection is done by the agency, there is a huge risk of childminders not up to standard still being able to childmind. Ofsted are also impartial, something the agency won’t be. This could lead to huge safeguarding issues. Why would you want to put children at risk in this way?

Another statement is about raising the standards of childcare. I fail to see how having agencies wiill do this.The standards of childcare from childminders has been raised substantially over the years, the level of training has gone up and up, a huge numbers of childminders have a level 3 or above. We have to keep our training up to date, something we do with support from our LA as well as local groups etc. From what we have been told, childminders will be recruited to an agency that maybe wouldn’t have considered becoming a childminder before – our job comes from the heart firstly, if your heart isn’t in it it isn’t the job for you. It has also implied that it will be easier to become a chidminder through an agency – this will lower the standard, the initial registration process is vital to ensure that only those suitable are alllowed to care for children.

This doesn’t touch the surface of my and other childminder’s concerns. Things such as how children willl be ‘placed’ with a childninder, eliminating parental choice, if they will be employed or self employed, if there will be a minimum wage expected, what other control the agency could have other how the childminder runs their business.

In my area a lot of the childminders meet up as a group and there is NO ONE that is in the slightest bit interested in joining an agency.

Evelyn Weightman Can not understand why you are trying to take over childminders, I came into this business to be Self Employed & nurture the children that parents have chosen Me to do so in their absence. We will all stand as ONE to STOP you from interfering in something you quite obviously know nothing about.

Lucy Wilkins 6th February 2014

Dear Ms Truss

Thank you for your letter dated 3rd February 2014.

I am a Registered Childminder of some 23 years and at my last Ofsted inspection I achieved the grade of Outstanding. Over this time I have cared for 70 children, the majority of whom have come to me as babies and left me when starting full time education.

When I started childminding I was inspected annually by the local Social Services Department, and I had no interference from anyone else. I knew where support was if I needed it and I was not afraid to ask for it. I had a one page childminding contract, an Emergency Contact sheet and an authority for medical intervention in emergencies. The children were well cared for in ‘an affordable, flexible and home-based environment’ – as you said in your letter, the ‘preferred option’ for many parents.

I can honestly say that the activities I provided and the opportunities I gave the children then, are no different to the type given to them now, e.g., craft, cooking, singing, outings to local attractions, walks in the woods, on the beach, parks, shops, dentists, library etc. The children all developed into well rounded individuals who were ready for school. They have grown into: Richard – a physiotherapist, Katie – an athlete representing her country, Jason – a furniture maker, Katy – a primary school teacher, Lucie – a manager in a Travel Agency, James – a car dealer, Simon – a doctor, Jack – a property builder…… I could go on. So, I obviously have not held anyone back and I have helped to give them a good grounding in their very important early years.

These days I am inspected by Ofsted – I relish my inspections, I have nothing to hide or fear. Ofsted can enter my premises at any time and find the same quality of care. Of course when the inspection takes place I try to ‘shine’, however I do not change the way I work just because they are present, unlike many childminders I fear! I desperately want to retain my independent inspection, as they are solely judging ME and after all, this is MY SELF EMPLOYED business.

I was an accredited childminder and a member of the local network, which enabled me to deliver 3-4 year old funding. I congratulate the Government on the removal of this requirement. It was nothing more than a duplication of paperwork and an unnecessary interference, often by ‘Jobsworths’ who had little or no experience/understanding of the work we do. We were repeatedly encouraged to implement more policies/procedures to justify their own existence.

I still have a childminding contract (but now it has four pages), an Emergency Contact sheet and medical consent form. I however also have 31 policies and procedures for parents to read and sign. I know that you will say that this paperwork is not compulsory for childminders; however we are always being told that it is ‘good practice’, and as we have to evidence this, it is the easiest way to do just that. None of it however has ever affected my ability to care for the children. I would suggest to you that it is the bureaucracy that has helped the decline in numbers of childminders mentioned in your letter – not through inability to complete or implement it, but through the additional work and time it requires, for no benefit to the children or childminders.

You state that ‘not all childminders are able to access support’. This is not true. There has always been support available from Local Authorities, NCMA (now PACEY) and local childminding groups. I know that the Local Authority support is to be slimmed down but there will still be someone to point you in the right direction. I would suggest that if Childminders are not able to pick up a phone to access support of their own volition, they are not a ‘suitable person’ to hold the responsible job title of ‘Registered Childminder’. Individuals should not need to be led to everything, they should be intelligent and strong enough to go out and get it themselves. The best support has always been from my peers, not from somebody paid to do the job.

In your letter you state that ‘establishing yourself as a childminder can be a complex and time consuming process’. You are quite correct that we have to register with Ofsted, arrange and pay for medical checks, complete Paediatric First Aid training, secure public liability, car and house insurance, etc. You estimate the cost to be £800.00. My question is: How are doing all these things through an agency going to make it any cheaper? The costs will be the same but we would have to pay the Agency as well, they are not going to do it for free!

The Government wants to reduce childcare costs to parents. Again, my question is: How is it going to be cheaper for parents to go through an Agency? Somebody will have to pay the ‘middle man’ –the Agency will charge either the parents or the childminders a fee. At present parents don’t have this additional cost and if it is passed on to the childminders then we will have to raise our fees to cover it. One way or another it will be more expensive for parents.

I do not believe that there will be confidence in the quality of care and early education offered by childminders as part of an Agency. The less able childminders will benefit from the more able childminders experience and reputations. The more able childminders will suffer as a result of being associated with the less able childminders. The Agency will predominantly be judged on their policies/procedures – all a far cry from the nitty gritty of childcare at ground roots, and observing the interaction between childminders and children on an individual basis.

I am sure many new childminders will join Agencies, especially the type of people who do not have the wherewithal to be able to manage their own business, and want to be hand fed information, making them clones of each other. I have already heard a new childminder locally say that childminding is one of the only jobs she can do and still be able to claim her benefits. Well done in encouraging this type of person into the Childcare profession! What happened to recruiting staff of a higher calibre to give the children a better start in their Early Years?

I will remain independent and be proud to be judged on my setting alone. If the time comes that I will be forced into joining an Agency, I will be looking for new employment.

Yours sincerely

Mrs L Wilkins

Karen Bennett ms Truss I agree with Sarah Neville whole heartedly, I too have emailed you more than once with no response, I heavily relied on your meeting with Penny and our emails which were to be delivered to you,in the hopes that you may listen but of course you have cancelled that meeting for a second time with no regard to the cost incurred to her for loss of earnings. We ( existing childminders) surely deserve the support to continue to develop to our full potential just like the children you claim you want to support. You try to convince us that you feel childminders are an important part of our communities BUT do nothing to help us sustain our business, quite the opposite in fact by trying to rail road us all in to making your agency schemes a success and filling local schools to bursting with poor innocent two year olds who will spend their times cooped up like battery hens !

Victor Snook I have just read Penny Webb’s blog about childminding agencies and her efforts to meet with you and the incredible rudeness with which you have treated her and the other people who wanted to meet with you to discuss this. It is typical I believe of the conservatives being completely out of touch with ordinary working people. You have cost this lady a lot of income and her clients a lot of trouble.

Karen Waite Ne Lucas after being in the childminding business for the last 18 years i find over the years all anyone has done is mess with us and try and change things i have never wanted for work have always been able to fill my spaces and i find that £4.00 an hour is a reasonable rate and where the news seems to think we charge £10 an hour is ridiculous NOW the biggest question is who is going to fund these agencies and whos going to have to pay for them as last year i earnt £3000 after expenses so where do you think we are going to get the money from to pay another extra bill humm and then there is longer school hours trying to be enforced so basicly you don’t want us childminders and we will be claiming benefits to support out families as i’m a widow i dont have a husband to fall back on

Catherine Rundall Newman I have to add my support to these girls as an Outstanding childminder in every section. It took hard work and dedication to get that grade and i am extremely proud of it. My husband is proud of it, my children are proud of my achievements, and my childminding parents are thrilled I got the grade i deserved. I will not even begin to entertain the idea of joining an agency. We WILL find a way to continue as Independant Childminders. You would be astounded at the support we all give each other, help, advice and sharing knowledge JUST to better ourselves and better each other. We are committed and will rise above this challenge…. shame that you don’t know this as you can’t even be bothered to go to the meetings. People cancelled their days work, their parents days work so that they could come and meet you… shame on you.

Elizabeth Manning Totally agree with every ones comment I have been a registered childminder for over 20 years and what you are trying to do is disgraceful we don’t need agencies full stop.

Sue Gibbons All the articulate posts above eloquently cover what needs listening to, you are a paid official representing an area, you are a minister for childcare both of these posts are paid for by the public! You have a duty as a representative of the people to actually listen and meet the people.

Your duty is to listen to those who have genuine concerns, not railroad through ill advised policy by shutting down and not meeting with those it concerns!

Claire McCartney I have to sat I agree with all the above comments, what an ill thought concept. I have only just registered as a childminder but I have over twenty years experience working in childcare with a degree. I decided to use my excellent skills and knowledge to care for son and because I felt that I could offer an excellent service to others. It wasn’t easy setting up it was time consuming and costly but I wanted to do it because I believe that I can offer a service that help the children in my care grow into fantastic individuals through my HOMELY, CARING, WARM service that is run by ME! If I wanted to work for somebody else I would have gone back to work in nursery. Parents don’t want this childcare costs are expensive enough as it agencies will raise the cost further. Ofsted inspections are a joke depending on who inspects you, they inspect your home as if it was a nursery not a HOME and if you are part of an agency only one childminder in the area will be inspected I for one do not want to be graded on somebody else’s practice but my own and I don’t want them being judged on my excellent practice if they are inadequate. You will drive childminders to leave registered childcare and some of the unscrupulous ones will continue without being registered and then what will happen!! I hate to think of the consequences of that action and it will be on your conscience if you have one! Because you don’t seem to have ears you are not listening to what everybody is telling you!

It is not because we are afraid of raising standards of childcare far from it, which is why we are so opposed to agencies they will not raise the standards of Childcare they will not make them easier for parents to find childcare. WHY do we have to do what other countries are doing isn’t it time we became the front runners of childcare that other countries want to copy!! Stop trying to fix things that are not broken we have some excellent childcare provision if you bother to come and spend time in it. We need things tweeking like less bureaucracy and better SUPPORT and recognition not massive changes. Maybe if you want to look at other countries provision you should look at the Scandinavian countries who have excellent provision and its proven to be effective, I have done a report on it if you care to read it!! But I doubt it vert much because you don’t seem to care what childminders think!!

Jayne Knight Why won’t you talk to us or have the decency to let us know details on how much it’s going to cost us, mainly for me, what will an independent Ofsted Inspection cost be ? I won’t be joining an agency !!!! How will our children benefit from agencies ?? In your letter you’re not coming out with any actual details how children or parents will be better off !!!!! I am passionate about my profession as a childminder and I give the best possible care all ready. Also, how will two year olds cope being in a school environment. I don’t think you have an idea what children of that age need. I am worried for my future your letter tells me nothing !

Kirsty Alford Dear Ms Truss, I have e-mailed you with my objections and concerns to childminding agency plans, as a Ofsted Registered Childminder.

Judi Brooker I am an experienced and outstanding childminder of 25 years and am absolutely devasted at what you are trying to do our profession. You do not appear to have any understanding as to what we stand for. The majority of us are all well qualified Early years practitioners with years of experience of offering high quality childcare. How can you justify trying to get us to join an agency when we are capable of working independantly and offering a first class service. This is just another cost cutting exercise without any thought on how we feel. We are being treated as 2nd class citizens and I am feeling very resentful. How is putting us in an agency going to reduce childcare costs. Can you not understand that we want to remain independant and therefore you will not get a sufficient number to join your agency to make it cost efffective. For once can you not listen to us rather than people who know nothing about childminders and the quality of care that we give. We have a voice and we are going to make sure we are heard!!!!

Nicola Holmes Where’s my letter?! Ive managed well on my own for nearly 11 years with very little support. I do not need someone who doesn’t know me and my setting telling me how to run my business and what children to have.

The children in my care and their parents are happy with my service. Agencies are not needed!

Alena Hemingway Again you are failing to engage with childminders, yet you are changing the future of our profession. Your proposals are badly thought through and will have damaging effect on thousands of jobs, cost of childcare and most importantly on outcomes of children. You completely lack understanding of childminding. Let me explain: I provide personalised and unique childcare and education in a centre of our community. Amongst my clients are 2 families with 3 children each aged 1 year old to 9 year old and I provide childcare, early years education and wrap around care, all in a home environment that is an extension of the children’s home. They play, learn, chill, engage in a community and form friendships while parents are confident that their children are kept safe, nurtured and loved by me. I provide support to parents, accommodate extra days, changes of shifts, late evenings or last minute changes to hours. Today I signed a family with a baby girl who after visiting a local outstanding nursery still came back to me. Also today I was contacted by a parent who’s child I mind on ad hoc basis, to ask if I could provide early years funded hours for her younger daughter, as she feels she would benefit more from being with me than in a nursery. These families love what I do, and their children benefit from the unique, diverse, passionate and high quality childcare and education that I provide. How could a childminding agency or school provide all this?

Tracey Brennan Dear Ms Truss, like my colleagues have expressed so well I am also against agencies. I will not ever join one as I want to keep my self employed status and Ofsted grading. I would also like to point out that whilst at a Childminder Network meeting last night there were over 40 childminders present and not one of them had received your letters about agencies – how can you say you are consulting childminders??? Another point is our network is danger of being closed due to funding being stopped – another nail in the coffin for childminders – you and your party seem determined on picking childminders apart piece by piece and getting rid of us so you can stick children in nurseries and schools all day every day from a very young age. You say you want affordable childcare but then do you very best to make that unachievable – I have voted Conservative for over 20 years but I will never vote for you again – you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.

Sue Radcliffe I will never give up my independency that is why I became a childminder so I can work independent. I will NOT join an agency regardless of the costs that OFSTED may charge…. I do not understand why it states more affordable childcare when the majority of us only charge £2.20 an hour for an 11 hour a days work that’s £25 a day. My parents do not want to go through agencies they chose me through word of mouth because I have over the past 10 years built up an “Outstanding” practice one I do not wish to part with if having to join an agency………In Oldham we are all sticking together and there is no way any of us are joining an agency we will fight to keep OUR INDEPENDENCE…

Christine Clarke I can only echo all of the above comments. I too wrote a letter for Penny Webb to give you on my behalf. I too am very disappointed that as Children’s Minister you cannot find the time to meet with the organisations and individuals who represent childminders and have children at the centre of everything we do. YOU NEED TO TAKE US SERIOUSLY, MEET MORE THAN A SELECT FEW CHILDMINDERS IN OUR SETTINGS,TALK TO US AND THE PARENTS WHOSE VIEWS YOU ARE ALSO IGNORING..

Lorraine Childminder Hipkiss After reading Truss’ article yesterday about people looking after children FOR REWARD in their own homes for up to 3 hours a day, it got me thinking,

If they’re self employed, then surely they would be required to have public liability insurance in case a child in their care has an accident ? Or a parent gets injured by a tile falling off the roof ! Friend or customer, who will pay up when the inevitable happens ? A friend will still sue you if you’re negligent !

That’s why we have strict rules regarding safety and the welfare of the children we care for. And training, Safeguarding, first aid ect.

What’s going to stop people from running an unregistered childcare service offering 3,4,5,6 spaces from 9-12 pm, UNINSURED, UNQUALIFIED, NO TRAINING, NO POLICIES OR PROCEDURES TO FOLLOW WHEN THEY ARE ACCUSED OF NEGLECT OR WORSE!………..

If they do put guidelines in place, how could they police them if the person is not registered ?

In this climate of “where there’s blame, there’s a claim”. I certainly wouldn’t want the worry of something going wrong and there being no support, no governing body, no financial back up from being unregistered.

What do you think ?

Ann Atkins Childminders being ignored again. Shame on you. We Do Not Want Agencys. it will put the price of childcare up not down. you stupid woman. open your eyes and read the letters.

Kerry Siddle I will not be joining any agency i work for myself n will remain independant my families like how i work and what lengths i go to for them why are you insisting on trying to destroy us when so many people rely on us not just to mind the kids but so much more beyond the funding for training is being removed and yet we get downgraded for silly things or not being goid enough with paperwork well if the training was there maybe that wouldnt happen what are you gonna do when there is no childminders and people are giving up work because no where for there children to go

Lucy Wilkins Dear Ms Truss

Thank you for your letter dated 3rd February 2014.

I have been childminding for 25 years. At present I am caring for second generation children, i.e., children of children previously cared for. I frequently have adults approach me and introduce themselves as someone I cared for in the past.

My business has been built on my reputation and the care I have given the children and their families – often giving them support in difficult situations.

I have all the usual contracts and policies, which anyone can copy or download, but does that make me a good childminder? I would rather be seen as a Professional Childcarer than a Paper Pusher. Writing a policy does not make you a better Childcare Provider.

I don’t want or feel that there is a need for Agencies. I can think of nothing worse than someone who has never been a Childminder trying to tell me how to run my business. My guess is that most Agencies will be run by people from the Nursery profession. This work is very different to that of a day in the life of a Childminder and they would not have any real understanding of the practicalities involved in my work.

I know that when the time comes for me to give up childminding I will dearly miss the children. I will also miss the companionship of other childminders and the support that we have always given each other. This form of support is far more valuable than that of someone who is being paid to ‘support’ me.

I am proud of my registration grade that has been judged on my merit alone. I do not wish to be judged along with a group of other childminders, with varying degrees of ability, or indeed on the management of an Agency.

There are a lot of rumours about the potential cost of being part of an Agency. Whatever this amounts to, it is bound to be over and above what I have to pay as an individual, as the Agency will be looking to make a profit. I do not see why my hard earned cash should go into the pocket of a third party, when I am perfectly capable of running my own business independently.

So, to answer the question, ‘Will you join an Agency?’ my reply will be, ‘NO THANKS!’.

Yours sincerely

Mrs A Soan

Manda Burnett I am wondering how you can justify this huge price we have to pay £700 + UPWARDS

Can you answer:

how the hell you got that figure ?

How are we to find it ?

We have to pay for our own Training / First Aid now Hampshire County Council has withdrawn funding so its going to cost me £70 a year for Training Subscription AND the high price of First Aid !

We also have to pay our own INSURANCE , I.C.O , OFSTED , that’s without all our other expenses

Do you seriously think we are all RICH doing this job that we can just find this amount – NO !

Why should I be rated with other groups / Minders and my grade goes down as grading goes with majoritySeriously you have no idea

Sorry but in all 20 years I have been doing this job this is most ridiculous change you have come up with

It does NOT benefit me in any way shape or form so I WONT be joining

Susan Rogers Dear Ms Truss

You really are a prat!

THE END

Jinty White I am an independant childminder with an outstanding grade I have never had to advertise for a placement for any of my minded children. It is down to word of mouth parents hear that I am good at what I do and how their children enjoy themselves and thrive through learning and play. I have yet to hear of anyone in support of chilminding agencies. You really have not thought through this idea of yours very well at all and the consequences of Your actions. I have also worked in a nursery environment before child minding and found in my own experience that most parents prefer a child minding environment to that of a nursery. Their children get more one to one interaction. Surely by now you must realise that all of us childminders are not up in arms for no reason. Why do you refuse to listen to our views cancelling your meeting with Penny Webb. Do you not realise the time and effort Penny has put in to have this meeting with you. You are just putting your views across even on TV you do it when being interviewed you say what you have to say and never answer questions properly. Your behaviour is very dismissive when it comes to childminders you should be ashamed of yourself.

Lisa Peters Dear Ms Truss – Childcare Minister, It would be lovely if you cared about the children and the people who dedicate there working life to our children. What will childminding Agencies achieve? I love my job, my parents are very happy with the care I provide, but all you keep doing is changing this. Why can’t you be up front and honest about what’s going on. Why are you treating childminders like this? We already offer flexible, affordable childcare. Maybe you should start listening to us real people , the ones who understand what it is to be a childminder, as I don’t think you have a clue

A Childminder

– I feel very strongly tht the proposed charges to enable us to continue to work as childminders outside of an agency are potentially very damaging to an awful lot of hardworking people’s careers.

I would be prepared to pay up to £100 per year, I think this is a fair amount. But up to £1000 is just un-necessary and seems to me that it is an attempt to force childminders into a position where they are having to give up the choice they made to be self employed.

We should not be penalised for wanting to get on and be our own boss and do our job effectively.

Trying to back us into a corner to join an agency is unacceptable. I will not be told which children I have to have in my house, how much money I will earn and when I take my holidays. I spent many many years working for other people and have worked hard the last 4 years to build up my own business and enjoy being my own boss as I think it allows me to give the best childcare I possibly can.

So the ridiculous fee proposals will not force me to join an agency, but I will have to rethink my position as a childminder, which would be a very sad loss to all the happy children I have in my house each day.

Jayne Knight Why won’t you give us any details on agencies. I can’t sleep at night worrying where I’m going to get extra cash from to pay for extra costs. After today’s announcements no wonder you cancelled your meeting with Penny Webb.

Deborah Bartlett Please can you start helping the childminders that are saying agency’s are not really needed we know as we have been doing a brilliant job with out them some of us for for over 20 years .

Helen Harvey As a child minder of 14 years, with 2 Outstanding grades, I will NOT be joining or be forced to join any agency.. I work as self employed and all my parents are very happy with my setting and what i provide for their little one’s. All my work has come from personal recommendations. I do not need or want and agency. What I need is free training, not the government forcing our local authorities to increase the amount we pay and reducing what courses we can actually use, £70.00 per course is NOT helping us become better child career’s but having the opposite effect.

Carolyn Simpson I just want to add that I am a childminder I do not want or will ever be part of a agency not needed not wanted and will not save parents money

Liz Hawkey I have pm my letter objecting to the ludicrous notion of childminding agencies! Childminders don’t want them and nor do parents! When will you listen to the people actually doing the job!

Jennifer Withers I hope that you will compensate Penny Webb for her loss of earnings and inconvenience, bearing in mind all the arrangements she and the parents of the children she cares for have had to make in order for her to attend the meeting that you cancelled. I am sure you will try to turn this into an opportunity to say how an agency child minder could have had the children placed with another minder by the agency at short notice – but not many parents of my acquaintance would want to leave children with someone they don’t know and haven’t met. These parents have all chosen Penny specifically for what she offers in her setting, and they know her and trust her. Parents choose us for our individuality and unique inspections. People do not want a “one size fits all” approach to care for their children.

Helen Bussey silly woman

Sarah McEwen I hope you take note to what other childminders have said in this thread and in the coutless letters and emails im sure you have recieved. Im no good at letter writing but I wanted to share my opinion.

I have only been a childminder 3 years and I can’t see how the proposed changes will help any of us childminders for the better. Training costs will increase, quality of care will decrease, cost to parents will increase to cover the fact that we will inevitably have to pay to be registered with an agency or to cover the cost of remaining independent.

in the long run you will push some childminders and parents out of work.

Please please take into consideration what us ‘lowely’ childminders have said.

Bev Metcalf I have been a childminder for 10 years and in all those years have taken on board all the changes each Government has implemented. We as childminders do as much if not more to provide excellent care for children in a Home from home environment for as little as £3.50 per hour. Your lack of any good information about all the changes have not helped with trying to introduce Agencies, I for one still have not received a letter that you we’re suppose to send to all childminders yet!!! Your lack of understanding of this issue and lack of respecting the profession of childminding and it is now looking that your ignorance of how big this issue WILL become if you do not speak and turn up to meetings that you keep canceling. As a childminder I agree with all the above statements and not only are you ignoring our concerns and trying to shut a lot of business down by implementing agencies, you are also ignoring the parents concerns who have their children in childminders care BUT above all you are ingnorining the welfare of the children! And trying to put children in some sort of institution by implementing all the changes. I for one will continue to stay independent and continue to provide the home from home care Children need and PARENTS WANT so will not be joining any agencies! Also unlike you I have not kept the parents of the children I care for in the dark about this issue and they fully back the campaign to stop agencies. Do not line a middle mans pocket when you have the chance to keep the children’s welfare and loads of parents choice in placing their children in already as you have stated! Affordable childcare. This is not what we and the children’s parents have used our vote for this government to do also with little or no information and discussion about the ill thought ideas that you are trying to implement.

Gillian Ferguson Dear Mrs Truss I have been a registered childminder for 20 years and have been part of our professions’ growth from social services registration to Ofsted registration from Birth to Three to the EYFS. All these changes have been for the better. However, I can not see the agency model being anything but a step backwards. Without individual inspections how will parents know that they are leaving their children in a safe and nurturing environment? How will the setting up of agencies lead to cheaper childcare for all the reasons already stated on other posts. The only saving in cost is to the government. Less money going out for inspections (we all remember the head of Ofsted saying that childminder inspections were not cost effective) and less money to local authorities for support and training. At least have the decency to be truthful about your reasons and give those of us that intend to stay independent the answers to our questions.Your letter addressed to all childminders told us nothing. We are educated people doing an important job. Please treat us as such.

Julie Barnard-Jenkins Elizabeth Truss.. Do you have any idea what’s involved being a child minder ??? I think not!! The clue is in the name.. Child minder .. I’m a professional mum, I am not a pre school or teacher or nursery Our paper work is ridiculous and OFSTED should have a clear set of rules because they make it up. I don’t need an Agency to run my Business . I have done so myself for the last sixteen years. Why don’t you send a questionnaire out to our parents and ask them what the want from their minders.. I can tell you paper work isn’t on their list. Oh and I wonder if you will even read this???

Sheron Wightman I am still waiting for your letter!! I agree wholeheartedly with all the other comments from registered childcare providers, why should we be forced to lose our independence for an totally ridicules idea, plucked from lord knows where!! which will certainly not be of any benefit to the children we care for or their parents. I think it was extremely rude of you to cancel the meeting that had been arranged with Penny Webb after she has gone to so much work to collect views from working childminders and has lost money in the process all for nothing. Please have the courtesy to listen to those of us who are on the front line in childcare and act accordingly.

Cath Palser Ms Truss- you go ahead introducing agencies and let’s see who joins, who benefits and who picks up the cost

A Childminder  I’m pretty sure she will press delete to all these comments, much like she is pressing delete on the whole Childminding community

Lisa Edwards Dear Ms Truss,

I am a childminder working in West Yorkshire and am writing to express my considerable concern about your childminding agency initiative….See More

PLEASE NOTE – THERE ARE MORE COMMENTS NOW – ADDED SINCE I COPIED THESE COMMENTS

Posted February 19, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Letter in The Sunday Telegraph   3 comments

A while ago – I organised a meeting with representatives of  the organisations that represent childminders – so Pacey, Pre-school Learning Alliance, UKCMA and ICM-SE – as well as Laura Henry who was representing National Early Years Trainers and Consultants Organisations.

You can read about the meeting in THIS BLOG

Not all the organisations could attend, but they all gave input and all agreed that we should send an ‘Open Letter’ to the media about our shared concerns.

It took a bit longer than we thought as we needed to gauge the timing carefully. We choose the weekend after Ms.Truss had cancelled the meeting with us all to send our Open Letter  to the Telegraph, and it was published on Sunday 16th February 2014.

Pacey had produced the draft  Open Letter based on views expressed at the meeting and since that date. All the organisations gave input for amendments and approved the final version.

This was the agreed version of the Open Letter as sent to The Telegraph

To The Editor,

As a sector we are sceptical of government’s approach to driving quality improvements in the early years. This is following announcements this week on proposals to introduce baseline testing for four year olds and extended nursery provision through increased collaboration between childminders and school based nursery settings.

 Liz Truss has written to childminders across the country detailing her support for the profession. Ms Truss states that childminder agencies will make working in the profession easier, and cites improved working relationships between childminders and school-based nursery settings. But as a sector we are still concerned that childminder agencies will not help childminders to improve their expertise or deliver benefits for families. Government focus should remain on supporting improvement in the quality of training, which will have a positive long-term influence on children’s learning, well-being, care and overall development.

 It’s encouraging that Ofsted will have a role in assessing the performance of childminder agencies but we still need to see detailed plans of how individual childminders will be assessed and supported to drive their expertise.

 We continue to have reservations that government is taking the right steps to ensure that all childcare professionals are equally supported to deliver a high quality of care. The new system has to be about quality as much as provision and cost, and the childcare sector remains unconvinced that agencies, baseline testing and channelling more childcare services through school nursery settings are the right way forward. 

 Childminders in particular are disappointed at government’s lack of engagement with them as sector professionals, and are committed to working in partnership with the Department of Education and all third sector organisations, given the opportunity.

As the person who had first suggested this working in partnership between the childminding organisations, I was really pleased with this letter and saw it as a major achievement .

It was therefore with mixed feeling that I read the edited version of the letter in The Telegraph – pleased that it had been published but disappointed at the things that had been edited out, and alarmed at how the heading of the letter would be perceived by the childminding sector.

This is the letter as it appeared in The  Telegraph

Telegraph 16.2.14

Childminders need proper training

Government proposals focus on agencies rather than training

6:59AM GMT 16 Feb 2014

SIR – The Government has recently announced proposals to introduce baseline testing for four-year-olds and increase collaboration between childminders and school-based nurseries. As representatives of the childcare sector, we are sceptical of these proposals.

Liz Truss, the education minister, has stated that childminder agencies will make working in the profession easier. We are concerned these agencies will not help childminders to improve their expertise. The Government should focus on improving the quality of training, which will have a positive, long-term influence on children’s learning, well-being and development.

It’s encouraging that Ofsted will have a role in assessing the performance of childminder agencies but we need to see detailed plans of how individual childminders will be assessed.

Liz Bayram
Chief Executive, PACEY
Neil Leitch
Chief Executive, Pre-School Learning Alliance.
Penny Webb
Ofsted Registered Childminder
Laura Henry
Chair, NEYTCO
Bea Heath
Director, Independent Childminders Social Enterprise (ICM-SE)
Lynda de Wolf
Executive Director, UKCMA

As you can see the editing had removed some important points – and the heading in bold, does not really indicate what the letter is about.

As I feared,  the letter  did indeed create some negative comments from childminders and others.

Mainly because they thought the letter suggested that established childminders needed to improve their qualification levels – some even thought (in light of Government current proposals) that they would be required to become ‘teachers’

After careful consideration ( as I was unable to discuss with the other signatories) I decided to publish the original version of the letter on social media, to help people understand that we (the signatories) did not intend to imply that established childminders need to become teachers or had to undertake compulsory additional training. Although of course we do all support CPD for all childminders.

This morning, I have been able to communicate with the other signatories, and it was agreed that I had taken the right decision, and furthermore that each organisation, could if the wanted to issued the unedited version of the letter on the websites and via social media.

Hence this blog.

So to be clear, our concerns are about the Government proposals for childminding agencies, and in particular the quality of the training for new childminders, and the quality assurance methods to be used for childminding agencies and agency childminders.

We are also concerned about related Government proposals that will impact on the childminding sector.

And finally, we were expressing the disappointment of members of all the organisations, and the childminding sector as a whole, that the Government are not listening to their concerns,especially as the sector is trying very hard to engage with the Government.

I hope this blog has help to explain the background to the letter – and what our intentions were in sending this Open Letter.

However I need to state very clearly, that this blog has not been viewed or agreed on in advance of publication, by Pacey, Pre-school Learning Alliance, UKCMA, ICM-SE or Laura Henry. 

Pacey have published the full letter on their website Link to Pacey website

At the moment the other signatories have not published any further information but they may do later on, so please check their websites

Update 

Pre-school Learning Alliance comment on the letter – and the full unedited letter  Link to Alliance website

Posted February 17, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

New Information Sharing Document   6 comments

Please share   – Information  below without logos

Or if you want the logos (which are in colour) Click here      Agency Information Doc – Feb 14

Together For Quality

 

Childminding Agency Information Document

Registered Childminding is under threat from the Government, and from September 2014, HUGE changes are going to be implemented that will impact on childminders, parents, children – and other early years settings.

News about these changes are slowly starting to reach people, including childminders, because despite the fact that a campaign against the changes has been going on for almost two years, it has been difficult to raise awareness as the Government have not issued any details about these changes, to Local Authorities, the media or to campaigners.

So first some background;

In May 2012, before she was even the Early Years Minister, Elizabeth Truss published a paper called ‘Affordable Quality’ in which she stated her view that childminding agencies based on the ‘Dutch Model’ would increase the quality of childminders, reduce childcare costs, and encourage more people to become childminders.

It was in May 2012, that the campaign against Truss’s ideas was started

In September 2012 she become the Under Secretary of State for Education, and in January 2013 she announced her flagship policy ‘More Great Childcare’

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219660/More_20Great_20Childcare_20v2.pdf

In this document were the outline details for increased ratio’s in early years settings (including Childminders) reduced role for the Local Authorities, new qualifications, and Childminding Agencies.

On the publication of ‘More Great Childcare’ the campaign stepped up a gear – but focussed on the ratio issue more than the other issues.

In June 2013, it appeared that campaigners had been successful, as Truss announced that ‘Due to lack of cross party support, they would not be continuing with plans to increase ratios.

The campaign against Childminding Agencies then took off, with all the organisations that represent childminders and childminders themselves objecting to the proposals to introduce Childminding Agencies for the following reasons;

  • Loss of individual Ofsted Inspection for those who joined Childminding Agencies
  • Introduction of a ‘middle man’ who would need to make a profit and would either drive up costs to parents or reduce income to childminders
  • Creation of a two tier registration and inspection system.
  • Quality Assurance concerns

Also of concern was the lack of information about how childminding agencies would work in practice- including costs; and the implications, including costs for those who did not want to join a childminding agency.

Despite asking questions about these concerns continuously over the last 8 months – via letters to the Ms.Truss, to MP’s, to the Prime Minister, to members of the House of Lords; Despite many meetings, blogs, articles and letters from organisations and individuals; there is still very little information from the Government.

However we are slowly picking up information (but not having it officially confirmed) from consultation responses and the evaluations of the pilots – which have only increased concerns.

It appears that the Government are thinking of;

  • Charging childminders between £600 and £1,200 per year to be in a childminding agency
  • Charging childminders for ‘extra services’ provided by the agency
  • Charging parents to access and maybe use the services of an agency childminder
  • Allowing childminders to operate from school premises to provide care for 5 – 7 year olds – with 30 children per adult
  • Allowing anyone to care for other people’s children for up to 3 hours per day (provided they are ‘friends’), but retaining the 2 hour rule for childminding assistants
  • Not allowing independent childminders to register with an agency to access some of the services offered.
  • Agencies being graded on ‘robust systems’ and only a small % of agency childminders being ‘sample inspected by Ofsted’
  • Not providing set criteria for agencies and allowing them to set their ‘own’ model
  • Matching parents to childminders
  • Allowing some childminders in agencies to be self employed, and some to be employed, but showing very little understanding about the difference in these.
  • Drastically cutting budgets to Local Authorities – and therefore the availability of training and support to those childminders who wish to remain independent.
  • Not setting any requirements for the level of training and knowledge of those who will be running childminding agencies or those employed to assess, monitor, train and support agency childminders
  • AND MORE

With time running out – childminding agencies are to be implemented from September 2014, it is vital that we make sure as many people as possible have the information to make an informed decision about if they want childminding agencies or not – and if they don’t that they need to follow the advice on these images from concerned childminder

Useful Information

Penny Webb        https://pennysplacechildminding.com/       pennys.place@hotmail.co.uk

Elizabeth Truss MP      elizabeth.truss@education.gsi.gov.uk       @trussliz  (twitter)

Lucy Powell         contact@lucypowell.org.uk                        @LucyMPowell (twitter)

You can find your own MP’s details:       http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

Together for Quality Facebook Group   https://www.facebook.com/groups/OneVoiceT4Q/

All these organisations are against childminding agencies

Pre- school Learning Alliance     https://www.pre-school.org.uk/

Pacey  http://www.pacey.org.uk/

UKCMA http://ukcma.me.uk/

ICM –Se http://www.icm-se.org.uk/

 

 

Posted February 15, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Am I wasting my time?   3 comments

Well today – I was supposed to be in London at a roundtable meeting with Elizabeth Truss the Early Years Minister, discussing childminding agencies – together with all the main organisations that represent childminders, other registered childminders like me, and some of those taking part in the agency trials.

But of course I am not in London as Truss cancelled the meeting – so instead I am at home  – and I had good intentions about how I should spend my unexpected free time – but to be honest I have not done any of the things on my to do list – in fact I have not even moved away from my laptop and social media sites

First thing I am on Facebook as the childminding community are rightly so, very angry about Truss cancelling the meeting and are commenting on the Facebook Groups that I run

Then one of my colleagues mentions that Truss is speaking at a conference on the future of childcare – my blood boiled – how dare she. This was clearly planned a while ago the same as our meeting was – but she didn’t cancel this one – she managed to meet this commitment. But it is not really a surprise to me – she wanted to go and talk about her wonderful ideas – she did not want to discuss people’s concerns about her ideas.

If she was able to be at a conference at 9 am why could she not go ahead with the meeting with myself and the others as planned just before lunchtime? The meeting was just for 90 mins – hardly going to make a huge difference to her day – was it? But it could have potentially made a huge difference to everyone’s understanding about why she thinks childminding agencies are needed – we would have had opportunity to explain – as a united sector voice – why we think they are not needed. Furthermore – acknowledging that childminding agencies are going to happen no mater what anyone says or does – we might have been able to establish some facts about agency fees, quality assurance, cost to remain independent and answers to all the questions that myself and my colleagues and the childminder organisations, keep asking – but so far have not had any response  to.

Because I was VERY CROSS  I then spent some time on Twitter expressing my thoughts – I admit my usual highly professional way of tweeting was replaced with anger fed comments

AND then into my inbox popped the Regulation of Childcare response document – if you have not read it yet – click HERE. It appeared in my inbox because I had bothered to take the time to complete it – as I have with most of the other consultations. I quickly scanned the first couple of pages – and was so cross that I stopped reading – and posted the link in my Facebook group and on Twitter – there followed  some more Tweets and FB posts

The whole consultation had – as I suspected it would be – been  a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME

On several questions respondents had clearly disagreed with Government proposal but the Government still intend to implement the proposal – I have to ask – WHY bother asking for people’s views if have no intention of listening. My personal thoughts are that I wasted my time – and should not have bothered to fill it in

As you can imagine the Facebook childminding community have been vocal about this document – and saddened and rather depressed.

So I thought I would take a look in more detail at the document question by question (sorry you will have to refer to the document as I can not copy and paste from it) and added my personal comment – in blue and in relation to the impact on childminders and childminding.

Question 1: Simplifying the childcare registration system 

Things certainly need improving – I am not sure if this will improve things or not – more detail is needed about the requirements. However this aspects applies to all and so is not part of my questioning re the impact on childminders and childminding.

Question 2: Removing requirement for out of school hours settings to deliver the learning and development requirements of EYFS 

I do agree with the bit about wrap around because the children have had a formal learning environment all day and should not have to be submitted to yet more formal learning (however I know there will be plenty of learning going on).

However is it right that children who may only be a month or two older than peers who did not go to school – are allowed to enjoy out of school hours periods without the requirements of EYFS learning and development and those not in full time education still have to follow the full EYFS curriculum? And more importantly their practitioners have to ensure the whole curriculum covered and documented?

Maybe EYFS should be guidance not a requirement – and early years practitioners allowed to tailor each child’s learning environment to that child? Maybe the focus should be about the child not about the curriculum or assessment? Maybe we should look to our colleagues in other countries and stop worrying about all this until the child is 6 or 7? 

However I am digressing a little – and coming back to this regulation of Childcare response document – again it will apply to all settings so not childminding specific

Question 3; Extending the 2 hour rule to 3 hours 

So despite only 28% being in favour of this proposal the Government are going to go ahead with it

This will have an impact on childminding as parents will be able to say some one is a friend and they will be able to do ‘school runs” and look after the child for up to 3 hours without the requirement to register or hold any qualifications, have a DBS, do any training including first aid, or have insurance in place or undergo a Ofsted inspection. And I know from experience that 3 hours a day is often enough childcare either side of a school day to meet parents work requirements.

Please don’t misunderstand me – parents should be able to support each other in this way – but it is not fair that early years settings,  and before and after school clubs will still have to abide by the two hour rule – including the 2 hour rule for childminding assistants having sole care of the children (and that is assuming they have a DBS and first aid qualification) and early years settings will also have to follow the full requirements of EYFS

Of course the Government are desperate to make it look like they are enabling More Affordable Childcare – but is this the way to it – and at the expense of those settings that are in the business of providing childcare?

It seems to me that the Government are over regulating some and under regulating others

 

Question 4a) – Multi premises 

Again despite just under 50% in agreement the Government are going to implement this one – and leave it to Ofsted to ensure the suitability of each premises. How are they going to do that – without inspecting each setting? All this says to me is more money saving measures from the government  at the potential cost of not safeguarding children. Just because one person or one company owns several settings it does not mean that the buildings are the same, the staff the same, the risks the same, the implementation of EYFS the same.

In fact not unlike childminding agencies where the government thinks one grade on the agencies robust systems will cover all the different childminder settings within that agency. 

Question 4b); Childminders working in suitable non domestic settings 

So about 38% agreed with this – but surprise, surprise – the government are still going to implement it. Why you might be asking – because they want to support childminders? Do they heck!  They want childminders to work in after school clubs providing the extended hours.

Of course some childminders may want this sort of work, it may suit some BUT most childminders have other commitments. What are the childminders supposed to do with the under fives that they care for? What are they supposed to do with their own children? Childminding is about home based childcare and most school children cared for by childminders like to go to a home based setting with sofa’s, TV, games, not many children, and most importantly get away from school. What about the children’s evening meals – something that many childminders provide and a service that many parents really appreciate.

I could say more but I have a blog already about this extended school day.

Question 5; Single set of safeguarding requirements

80% were in favour – and to give credit where it is due – it does make sense, as so easy to over look something if having to apply two different sets of criteria

Question 6: Requirement to undertake a LA approved course before registering as a childminder

Only 14% agreed with this – many gave detailed reasons why they disagreed – but of course the government know best and so have taken no notice at all – so in future ANYONE can provide the training – no one will quality assure it – and Ofsted will ensure it is suitable. No disrespect to Ofsted but how will they be able to judge this? And how will they know if a person has passed or failed when there is not a set criteria?

I could get on my soap box on this one – as a qualified tutor and someone with vast experience in delivering such courses both national ones and local ones – I can honestly say this is a huge step backwards – what are the government thinking? 

Actually I am not against the LA not having to approve the course – I am against there being no standard national criteria / bench marking

Question 7; Requirement for First Aid Training to be approved by LA

My personal opinion is much the same as previous question – in that ‘making it clear what should be covered’ is not the same thing as quality assurance. First Aid training does not need to be LA approved but someone has to quality assure the training and set the bench marking

Question 8; Risk assessment requirement

I do, in principle agree with this one as my personal thoughts are – a piece of paper does not remove or reduce a risk or keep children safe – practitioners do – and if supported to develop the skills in risk assessing, children can also help keep themselves safe 

Question 9; Staff requirements for children aged 5 – 7

Again only a few people agreed with this proposal – and again the government are just going to ignore the responses and implement anyway. As a childminder myself and my colleagues will be disadvantaged because regardless of our qualification or the amount of space available – we will still be required to maintain a one to three ratio with the 5 – 7 year olds. Other settings may be able to reduce their fees  – we won’t – oh but silly me – of course that is what the government want – for us to not look after 5 – 7 year olds in our settings but to go and work in schools covering the extended hours. 

Question 10; Additional comments

Nothing really to comment on.

So there we are – and I am still of the impression that responding to the consultation was a complete waste of time – and furthermore the government are busy banging another nail in the coffin of childminders

Posted February 13, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Dear Minister – I understand you might be ‘a little concerned’   13 comments

My letter to Elizabeth Truss ….. sent 11.2.14

Dear Minister,

I am very angry that you cancelled the round table talk with myself, other childminders and the main childminder representative organisations (and others), which had been organised at your request by UKCMA.
I am even more angry that because you have had a few negative emails and comments via social media today, that you then asked a member of staff to offer a meeting without you.
Why am I angry? Because of the complete lack of understanding that you demonstrate about childminding both in the way you think it appropriate to cancel and then try to rearrange meetings, and in the way you continue not to listen to the voice of the childminding sector.
For me to agree to attend the meeting – which was first set as Wed 12th February, I had to ask 2 parents to make alternative arrangements – resulting in inconvenience for them and a loss of income for myself. However this was acceptable as my co minder could care for the other children and remain within ratios.
But then you asked for the meeting to be rescheduled for Thursday 13th February, and  due to the days / hours that my co minder works, I had to take a decision to close my setting for the day. this meant a loss of income to myself of  around  £200  ( in additional to the loss already incurred for the original date)  – and inconvenienced another 6 parents
Despite the loss of income, I was happy to agree to meet with you, as this would have been an opportunity to to gain an understanding about why childminding agencies were needed and how they would reduce paperwork and costs for childminders, while achieving More Affordable childcare for parents Essential really, as despite letters, articles and blogs not only from myself but from many others our questions have not been answered
However you then cancelled the meeting – which meant that my personal loss of income was for nothing. You see Ms. Truss the parents had booked a day off themselves or arranged for grandparents to care for their child – and had received a reduce invoice for February – making it hard if not impossible to undo those arrangements.
So I was angry – and yes I did post about it on social media – WHY? because I have almost 200 letters written by childminders and parents that I was going to take with me to the meeting.
You may be interested to know that despite extensive requests on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin – not one letter is in favour of childminding agencies. You will of course say – well that is hardly a huge % of the number of childminders in the country – and I would agree – but what is very interesting is that although these letters are from all areas of the country, most of the writers of the letters say that they have yet to meet in person or communicate via social media with a single person in favour of childminding agencies.
Lets do some assumption based maths – I know maths are your strong point – there are not mine as I don’t have a GCSE (or O level) in maths – so please bear with me.
Lets say each of those 200 childminders cares for 10 different families, over a week – and they have discussed agencies and all the parents are against the idea – we would have 2,000 people against agencies. Now lets assume that each childminder also talks to 10 other childminders in her local town (there would usually be more) and each of those 10 other childminders has 10 families on their books and we are up to 22,000 against agencies – and lets assume each of those people has 10 social media friends and not one of them has expressed the opinion that agencies are a good thing  – and we are up to 220.000 people against agencies – remember that each of the people who have written a letter claim they have not met or communicated with a single person who is in favour of childminding agencies. I am sure you can do the maths and realise that actually the number of people against agencies is potentially huge.
My challenge to you is – please tell me how many people have expressed an interest in childminding agencies – and how many of those people are childminders or prospective childminders – and to be clear – I mean people who have been told how much it will cost to be in a childminding agency – NOT people who have taken part in the FREE trials and who have not even been told any details about future costs.
Getting back to the meeting – when I heard that you had instructed a member of staff to rearrange the meeting I was more than angry – how dare you assume that we can be told one day that the meeting is off and then the next day that the meeting was back on – only not with you?  We all have busy lives and as I had an unexpected child free day – I had made plans – which included seeing if I could arrange to talk to the media.
I do not want to talk to one of your staff members – I want to talk directly with you and to get answers to the many questions that I have.
As to a potential rearranging of the meeting in March – I can’t say at this moment in time if I will a) be able to afford to lose another days pay or b) if parents of the children will be able to make alternative arrangements.
I would continue with this letter, and respond to your letter to all childminders – but I have already done so via my blog …. and my childminding colleagues have already taken the time and trouble to write a letter to you – (and are now emailing these to you and commenting on your facebook page) , so there seem little point in adding to the collection of letters that you are very unlikely to read, and even less unlikely to understand our concerns – and extremely unlikely to actually STOP, LISTEN or CONSULT …or to drop your ideas and agree that childminding agencies are not wanted, not needed and won’t acieve the aims stated within More Great Childcare.
Almost two years of my free time, a loss of income of almost £1000 to attend meetings / cover travel costs to London – and for what? NOTHING
Oh but then again – not completely for nothing, as I have been able to build strong relationship with all 4 organisations that represent childminders, I have been able to provide information and raise concerns within the childminding community, and I have extended my own personal support network and friendships.
I hope that you are now beginning to realise that the childminding community have had enough – they are cross, they want you to listen and to understand their concerns. They want you to STOP the implementation of childminding agencies, they want you to LISTEN to their concerns and to CONSULT with them about alternative ways to achieve your admirable but completely unrealistic aims- as after all they do have a secure and in depth knowledge and understanding of childminding
Yours
Penny Webb
Registered Childminder

Posted February 11, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Further hints about Government intentions for childminding agencies   2 comments

Following on from my previous blog – this one is based on the questions from the evaluation / survey for parents in the trail areas for childminding agencies.

As with previous blog, I will not be using all the questions as some are just data about those taking part – I will again be using blue ink for my comments.

If you do not currently require childcare, if circumstances change, how likely are you to use a childminding agency over other types of childcare?

How can any parent comment on this? To do so they need information about childminding agencies – and at the moment there isn’t any! However what this will achieve is a number of parents saying they would use a childminding agency based on fact that Government suggesting that will provide quality childcare. This will give the Government ‘stats’ to use.

How much would you be willing to pay per hour for the services of an agency childminder?

Possible answers; under £5 / £5 – £5.99 / £6 – £6.99 / £7 – £9.99 / £10 – £11.99 / £12 or more

Clearly as a registered childminder, I have based my fees on a complete misunderstanding of how much parents can afford to pay and I am under charging by a huge amount. (Joking of course – I know how much parents can afford in realistic terms) Based on survey’s of average charges there should be a under £4 choice and even a between £3 and £4 choice.  

Does this mean the Government already know that childminding agencies are going to push up the cost of childcare? And if they do – they are not being truthful to parents re ‘More affordable childcare’ nor are they being honest with child.minders and prospective childminders as these sorts of fees would soon put all childminders out of business – as parents would use group care as their charges are not that much (in general)

It also means that based on these figures the amount paid for early education funding is – well a joke. How can the Government ask parents if they would be willing to pay these sorts of fees, when the Government pays on average less than £4 per hour for early years education funded hours?

What elements of an agency would you most be prepared to pay for?

Possible answers; Someone to recruit a childminder for you / Agency to provide quality guarantee / Agency to vet childminders regularly / Agency to provide sickness and holiday cover / Agency to help find place for child with additional needs / I would not be prepared to pay extra for these services

So here we are then – not only are the Government thinking about charging childminders to provide these services – they are thinking about charging parents to access these services. Is this anything to do with the informal feedback that we have had – that agencies are not cost effective? 

And how could an agency provide a guarantee that about agency childminders? Near impossible as the word guarantee suggests that ‘always at a certain standard’  – an almost impossible to achieve guarantee, I would have thought.

And just who is going to provide this holiday and sickness cover? childminders? nurseries? back up agency staff in child’s own home (so like a nanny)? In all cases the child would not know the person concerned – and would parents be expected to pay an enhanced fee for this? Would childminders be able to set their own policy about sickness and holiday pay?

If you decide to use an agency how would you prefer to pay?

Possible answers; One off fee on joining / a monthly membership fee / pay as you go for services used / Pay for services as a proportion of fees charged for childcare / Don’t Know / I would not be prepared to pay

I think these possible responses are very telling – it appears that the Government do intend for parents to pay in one way or another – parents need to be made aware of this as it is not creating more affordable childcare – it is creating extra ways to generate income from parents and childminders.

And as someone who intends to remain a independent Ofsted registered childminder – I have to ask – how much will it cost me to remain independent and how will my parents feel if I have to pay an amount to Ofsted that is MORE than all these suggested fee to parents and childminders using a childminding agency, and therefore increase the fees that I charge them?

The Government MUST provide the details of costs and services – and models of childminding agencies as soon as possible. Childminders – and it seems parents as well need to know so they can make their own plans about the future.

Posted February 9, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues