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

8 responses to “Guest Blog by Annelize Cruz

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  1. Thank you Annelize for putting into words, so beautifully, what so many childminders are thinking! I do think the ‘childcare crisis‘ may have been exaggerated into a very convenient cry to arms for the government agenda. I have also been wondering whether some parents have been hiding behind the cost issue because they are embarrassed to voice the fact that they really want to stay at home with their children? Most childminders can empathise with this feeling as, generally, that’s how we started doing what we do.

  2. Dear Penny,
    I have just had a silly moment….well with the childcare issues around at the moment you have to laugh or you’d cry…..and decided that it’s pretty obvious that Ms Truss owes you a day of her time! As she currently has NO CREDIBILITY in the sector I wonder if there’s a way that she could be persuaded (or embarrassed into) spending a day with you? Or one of the other excellent childminders that have extended an invitation? Any ideas anyone?……….

    • I agree Jane, I am owed some of Ms.Truss’s time – and I have invited her several times to spend a day with me. To be fair to her, although she has not accepted my invitation – she did send a member of DfE staff to spend the day in my setting – and although it was more in connection with the ratio issue, I did discuss other issues with the person sent. However, I it appears the Truss has not taken much (if any) notice of the feedback provided by her staff member.

      I would be very happy for Ms.Truss to visit my setting – and as she is able to give several days of her time to visit China to find out more about how they teach Maths, you would think that she could give a day of her time to visit my setting – or indeed as you say any of the childminder settings that have extended an invitation.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how stingy some people are over child care – these little people are the most precious and need most care of anything you have

  4. Perhaps its time to join an agency???????

    • I would love to hear your perspective of agencies – as you are the first person who has said that maybe agencies would be worth joining. So please do get back to me with your thoughts. It would be helpful to know if you are a childminder, a parent of a young child using (or going to use childcare)

      Thanks for commenting

  5. I am involved in Early Years looking to the long term and the Ofsted Inspections the stress that seems to be put on the individual and the concerns surrounding inconsistent reporting it may help enable the market to remain safe and stable, many childminders already seem very concerned with the stringent measures which have been taken. Having spoken to a number of childminders recently they feel a larger collective body would have a stronger voice.

    • Hello – thank you for posting again

      Interesting that the childminders you have spoken to feel that a larger collective voice would have a stronger voice – I am assuming you mean agencies.

      However I don’t think we will see any agencies that will have great numbers than the joint membership of the organisations that represent childminders.

      I can see though that some maybe thinking that an agency inspection will be less stringent than an individual inspection.

      If we believe Truss – then no they won’t be – as agency childminders will still have to follow EYFS – the difference will be they will be paying a lot more to belong to an agency, than they will in individual fee to Ofsted – and they will be signing up to whatever it is that the agency joins wants to have in the way of quality assurance – and that might include completing agency documents that are generic to the agency and it should include at least one visit per year to check practice and to provide support

      If you follow my line of thought – agencies childminders will be paying a middle man to oversee them, and to insist they do things the agency way – but I accept that some will find this beneficial and won’t mind having a generic agency grade (no matter what their own practice is like)

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