Part FIVE – We are all saying ‘NO to childminding agencies’   1 comment

More and more childminders are contacting me to give their permission for their letters to be included. As anyone who has read the letters in Parts one – five, will have noticed, many have spent a considerable amount of time writing these letters.

Many have posted the same letters to Truss, to the DfE and to their MP’s – with a few notable exceptions – they have either not received a reply – or they have received a reply that makes it clear that their letter has not even been read – so maybe the reason permission is being given to publish the letters here is because they want someone to read the letters and to take their concerns seriously.

The letters on here so far are only a small percentage of the totally number of letters and emails that I have received.

All the letters will be handed to Elizabeth Truss at a meeting at the end of March  – I hope she bothers to read them – and to respond in person to all the concerns being expressed – and to provide the details about how childminding agencies will achieve the aims in More Great Childcare and More Affordable Childcare.

And maybe she will also be able to provide at that meeting in March – evidence of those who are in favour of childminding agencies. Not those running the pilots who are after all the ‘middlemen’ who want to make a profit at the expense of childminders and parents – but childminders, prospective childminders, childcare organisations. LA’s – anyone really who might be able to explain to myself and my colleagues just what the benefits are to individual childminders, to parents, to children and indeed to the childminding sector as a whole.

Moving on – some more letters

From Stephen Rogers

Dear Ms Truss,

I have been co-childminding with my wife for the last 5 years. This was not a choice at the time but a necessity as the recession meant I had no work while my wife was being asked to care for more children than Ofsted allowed. Initially I was just her assistant but I soon grew to realise what an impact having a male role model in the setting could mean for the children.

I am now a fully registered childminder and between us we care for 6- 7 children every day. We never have any vacancies but do have several children on our waiting lists.

Some of the children come from one-parent families, some have parents who work in offices. As a carpenter by trade, I have a set of skills which so many parents do not have, eg using hammers, saws, mending bikes, building dens, obstacle courses etc.  This makes our setting stand out for some families and provides a male role model for some of the children. I even do the cooking.

I get lots of support from my wife and she makes sure I keep up to date with all the necessary training.

I can see no benefit whatsoever to using an agency, we do not need support for training, filling our spaces, inspections (I received good at my last inspection), buying resources or anything else. I see them as a needless expense and cannot see how grading an agency can give any indication on how good its registered childminders are. And what about the costs? If I have to pay an agency then I would have to pass the cost on to the parents. If the parents pay then that costs them more to find childcare. Who matches children with the childminders? What if there is a conflict over anything – childcare, behaviour, food issues, fees etc? Who would sort that out?

For myself and my wife, we have worked hard at improving our setting and qualifications, we have a steady supply of children and never have any vacancies, the children are happy, the parents are happy, Ofsted is happy with us. What more is there? Certainly no need of agencies for us.

From Carol Rogers

Dear Ms Truss,

This letter is to inform you on my views regarding the introduction of child-minder agencies.

I first registered as a child-minder in 1996 through social services but this later changed over to Ofsted. I had very basic training at the time – a chat around someone’s house over 4 evenings plus first aid. I never advertised for business, I was well known so always had lots of children to care for. When my twins were born in 2002, I gave up childminding as it was no longer practical with 2 new babies.

In 2006, due to a change in circumstances, I re-registered with Ofsted. This time the process was very involved with college over 8 weeks, an exam, gp letters, first aid, eyfs courses plus more. Within a short space of time all my spaces had been filled and for the last 8 years I have been operating a waiting list. I currently have 3 unborn babies booked in as soon as the older children in my setting start school!

I have undertaken extensive additional training, purely for self-fulfillment over the last few years, as well as CPD courses, all paid for by me. I have gained a Level 3 in childcare followed by 2 x level 4 modules (Distinction) plus a level 5 (Grade 2 Pass). I need one more level 5 to gain my Foundation Degree in Early Years.

I offer funded places for qualifying children over the age of 2 and I am also registered for overnight care which I have provided several times where there has been a family emergency.

I do all my own accounts, paperwork, EYFS monitoring liaising with parents, designing my website, advertising, source training, buy resources etc. I am registered as a food business and in 2012 I was graded Outstanding by Ofsted – all achieved with no outside help at all.

What I fail to understand is how a child-minder agency can benefit me, the children, the parents or anyone really apart from the pockets of the agencies. These are just some of the questions that I have but there are lots more.

  • Who will pay the agencies? If it’s the parents then they incur additional costs, if it’s the childminders, they will have less profit.
  • Will childminders be employed or self-employed? Who will decide on the fees?
  • How will vacancies be filled? Will childminders have to take families offered to them or can they still decide if they can work with them?
  • Who decides on the opening hours / holidays for the child-minder? What about sick pay?
  • If an agency is graded outstanding, how will parents know what the childminders within the agencies are like? Who decides?

Many of the families I work with are on a tight budget and I try to accommodate them by adjusting my fees accordingly. One of my families have 3 children with me full time and I charge them £1000 PER MONTH LESS than the nurseries in this area, without this discount they would not be able to afford to return to work. If they went through an agency would there be this sort of flexibility for them?

Whether or not I am with an agency, I still have to do the observations and next step planning and liaise with the parents on a daily basis. I know that most childminders do not like being inspected by Ofsted, I certainly don’t but at least parents know roughly what to expect based on the grading of the individual and not by the agency and also all childminders are given general guidelines on how we should be providing care and learning for the children.

I will certainly not be joining an agency, I have proved that I can successfully manage my business on my own and there would be no advantage to joining one. If it ever becomes compulsory, I will step down as a child-minder and return to teaching instead.

From Vanessa Windust

Ref: Your letter to childminders 3/2/14

Making Early Years Funding available – I understand that you have made it easier for childminders to apply and offer the 2/3/4 year old funding to children in our care, however what you are not doing is making this financially viable for childcare providers which is why there has been a low uptake of the funding.  The current hourly rate for 3 year olds is around £3.80 per hour and our local hourly childminding rate is around £5.00 an hour.  Therefore it is not financially worth us offering the free entitlement as we will do so at a loss.  There is also the issue of two year old funding being paid at a higher rate, but then dropping once the child reaches 3 years of age.  Again this is not worth the while of the childminder as there is additional paperwork to fill in (termly returns to our local authority) and working out how to charge to make the scheme workable for us.

Enabling the creation of childminder agencies.  You claim that this is about offering choice to childminders and parents.  It is a thinly veiled way of making sure that parents ONLY choose agency childminders as by having your stamp of approval, their standard must be higher and therefore you are making it appear that an agency childminder is better than an independent childminder.  You say it’s about offering support and advice in setting up childminding businesses and spreading costs – but there is no mention of how much this service will cost the childminder.  I for one refuse to join an agency as I wish to continue to be inspected as an individual.  Although the EYFS framework is there for us all to adhere to, every childminder works in their own way and parents see that when they visit us.  Parents want CHOICE, not a carbon-copy childminder with the same Ofsted grading as everyone else in their agency.  I will not work hard to keep my Good rating and have to share that with others in the agency.  It is MY hard work therefore it should be MY grade.  I fail to see how the creation of agencies will help minders fill their vacancies easier.  I have been working as a childminder for 6.5 years and have never had an issue finding work in an area which is saturated with childminders.  That is about my attitude, determination and committment to the Early Years, not whether I belong to a select government-approved group.

Local authority networks and support.  We no longer have a network for support in our area as almost every person on the local authority childminding team has been reassigned or been made redundant due to funding cuts.  Any support we have is in the form of our peers and our own groups that we have formed.  Our training programme has been significantly cut and courses are unhelpfully run during the day which many childminders cannot attend due to the inconvenience caused to the parents of the children we mind.  I am studying for my BA in Early Years, alongside working full time, which I have funded myself at significant cost.  I also get together a group of local childminders to run training at our own cost because statutory courses (such as Paediatric First Aid) are no longer funded by the LA.  So where is this money you promise actually going?

Working with schools.  In allowing (or insisting) schools open longer during the day and more weeks of the year this will directly impact on childminding businesses.  So whilst you insist you are giving with one hand (providing services you say will allow more people to become childminders/access funding etc) you are taking away with the other by effectively putting childminders out of business.  You say that childminders are the preferred option for many parents but that the number of childminders has declined and you aim to do something about that but this will have the complete opposite effect.

With respect Ms Truss you are so completely out of touch with reality and your policies and proposals are so full of contradiction I’m not sure that even you understand them.  These issues should be fully consulted and debated with those in the power positions such as yourself actually LISTENING to the needs of the childminders, not making sweeping generalisations about what you think parents want/what you think childminders need.  Your ‘consultations’ so far have involved a great deal of lip service about how we as a workforce have been consulted, but then you return to following your own agenda anyway.  I suggest you spend some quality time in childminding settings to see things at the coal face – how we help the children develop in their vital early years to reach their full potential without teacher training, the paperwork we have to fill out daily to comply with registration requirements and the daily juggling act that is the role that many of us play as childminder/parent/student etc.  Childminding is not a 9-5 job in a cosy office – when the last child in my care goes home I don’t put my feet up, I study, I fill out learning journals or I plan for the next day.  I refuse to let my profession be destroyed by people who haven’t the faintest idea about it.

From Lucy Wilkins

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.

From Angeline Hargreaves 

Ms Truss, I would like to express my deep concern for your plans for Childminding Agencies. I have been a Registered Childminder for 23 years ,I have been graded Outstanding by OFSTED ,I have drawn down the grant for educating 3 and 4 year olds since it became available for Childminders to do so. You can see I am speaking with some experience. I have also on a voluntary basis run a local Childminding Association and provided many training courses and support for our members, from First Aid to Safeguarding and many more besides! So I am fully aware that Childminding is a difficult profession to start off in !
Agencies I believe will not help quality Registered Childminders get started you will just end up with low quality childcare ,nannied by an Agency who most probably know nothing about Childminding !
We as Registered Childminders work very hard for our OFSTED gradings and are always seeking to improve and find new ways to educate and entertain the Children we care for ,we delight in their accomplishments and pride ourselves in the continuity of care we provide. We ARE the most flexible form of Childcare and usually the cheapest, our home-from-home environment has been proven to be the most beneficial for young children to thrive in!
Instead of Agencies which few of us want or need why not provide existing Childminders with the Support and training they want and need ! My training costs have gone up 100% in the last year ! You are forcing us out of business or forcing us to put our prices up! Affordable Childcare is already here can’t you see it?
We as existing Registered Childminders can support new recruits ,many of us were already doing this through Support Childminding schemes,  make Support Childminding a role but please make the people in this role be experienced Ex Childminders who know what the job really entails and have lots of relevant experience!
I hope you can find time to listen to the people who know what they are talking about as it seems you haven’t yet!

From Pauline Feltham

Dear miss truss.I am writing to about the agencies that you are trying to bring in I feel that you are trying to get rid of child minders we want to stay independent after all the time and effort we put into looking after children.after 25 years of minding I feel like giving up with all this rubbish you are spouting .please leave us alone to get on with what we do best.CHILD MINDING. it is just another way for the government to make money out of us.and to make it harder for parents having to join these agencies.

From Amanda 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 majority

Seriously 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

From Paul Windust – Husband of a Registered childminder

Dear Ms Truss

 

I have been reading your letter to childminders and feel I have to respond as the husband of one of the childminders who will be affected by the changes you are proposing.

 

My wife Vanessa has been childminding for 6.5 years, since our youngest daughter was a baby.  Prior to having children she commuted to London to work at the Head Office of a large international bank which was up to a 2 hour trip each way, on top of the 12-14 hours a day she worked.  She was unhappy and unmotivated and determined not to carry on once we had children.  When our eldest daughter was a baby, my wife got a job with a local firm but found the demands of work plus being called away when our daughter was ill at nursery too much and once more she was unhappy.  When she fell pregnant with our youngest daughter we discussed how we would manage financially and how my wife could continue to work and be there for our children and so she decided to undertake training to become a childminder.  My wife has never been so happy with her career, nor has a career suited her more.

 

Childminding has allowed my wife to take our children to school, collect them, attend every sports day, assembly and not worry about childcare over the school holidays.  She rapidly built a good reputation and not only is she full with children, she has a waiting list.  Her ability to choose the hours she works means she is able to work 4 days a week (albeit over 40 paid hours during that time) AND study to further her career, undertaking the BA in Early Years degree with the Open University.  However childminding is not a 9am – 5pm job and she finds that most evenings and some weekends are taken up with paperwork for her business and she attends college in her own time to continue her education.  Recently though she has become demoralised at the proposed changes to childminding and is questioning whether to continue with her role and her studies.

 

We have together read the proposals regarding the introduction of agencies and feel the impact this will have on her career and our family life could be catastrophic.  Financially we can just about manage for her to work 4 days a week which gives her the other day of the working week to study and take our daughters to their respective after-school activities and during the school holidays her ‘day off’ becomes a family day.  The introduction of agencies and the costs incurred will mean that ultimately my wife will have to choose between earning extra money to pay to be a part of the agency, or continuing to study but not both.  We are both opposed to the introduction of agencies as feel this will create a ‘two-tier’ system of childminding and parents looking for childcare will be swayed towards using agency minders, as opposed to independent minders like my wife.

 

Being self-employed has improved Vanessa’s quality of life as she makes her own business decisions and clearly takes pride in her work and this is reflected in the atmosphere of the setting.  Her enjoyment in her work is palpable and on the days I am off work and go on outings with her and the children I can see the joy it brings her and the children in her care being with someone who clearly loves what she does.  I worry that the introduction of agencies and therefore ultimately being answerable to those who run them will take the joy out of my wife’s work and will affect her working life and the quality of life for our family.  She does not want to work 5 days a week, taking away her day to spend quality time with our children just to compete with agency minders.

 

The proposals put forward seem ludicrous and made by people who clearly have no idea how childminding works, nor how dedicated childminders like my wife are already juggling work, family life and study.  I feel that bringing in the proposed changes will decrease the number of people in the childminding profession as, unable to compete with agency minders, they will lose motivation and find employment elsewhere which would be a terrific shame for the children in the Early Years.

From Jo Shakespeare

Dear Ms Truss,

I am writing to you at this stage as I am aware that you are meeting with Penny Webb this week and very much hope that my voice and opinions will be heard by you directly. I have been a childminder for 6 years. I am currently finishing my Level 3 in Childcare and am a member of the Childminder Network. I am very passionate about my job and the service I provide for the children and parents in my setting and as a result I’m very concerned about the effect your More Great Childcare bill will have on us all.

In particular I am opposed to the agency proposals (although most of the bill has flaws and is on the whole an insult to the childcare profession and the children and parents it seeks to support). I will fight to stay independent and will encourage as many other childminders to do the same. I do not understand how introducing a middle man, with the inevitable costs that will incur help the individual childminders or indeed reduce the cost to parents – as you claim is your aim.

What worries me in particular is that there has been no proper consulation with childminders and their views are not being listened to. I understand that there has been a drop in minders over the last twenty years but fail to see how forcing them into an autonomous system that eliminates their uniqueness will help. New childminders need peer support, free training and a solid network of other well-informed childminders and local authority workers that they can turn to. Being made to pay into an agency where they will be forced to adopt their philosophies and pay for their profits will not increase the number of childminders long term.

The families I care for chose me because I can offer a service that meets their own individual needs. They picked me as a person because we connected and share beliefs on how their children should be raised. They send their children to me because their children feel safe and loved in my home and enjoy the company of the other children who attend. They like the groups and activities I take their children to and the resources and opportunities I can provide. My setting has been set up the way I believe I can meet the needs and interests of the children, not to conform with an agency who will ultimately need to make a profit.

I sincerely hope you will listen to the ever increasing voice and concern of childminders and their families all around the country. This system of agencies and the More Great Childcare bill as a whole is an insult to our profession and the children we seek to serve. Don’t try to take away our individuality, this is what parents value and pick us for and I for one will fight to protect it.

From Cally Hill

Dear Ms Truss, I am a Childminder in Oxfordshire. I wanted to send you this letter to tell you that I really dont understand what will be expected of me as an independant childminder? I have only been a childminder for a couple of years this April and yes, i have found it tough. But the idea of an agency scares me even more. There is so much wonderful support out there via social media, local childminders, childrens centres etc. Ive never struggled for long. I have recently been give the honour of a parent asking me to provide 3 year old funding for their child that i have had since she was 9 months, I not happy about giving the parent any answers as yet because I feel my whole job is in jeopardy at the moment. At the moment I do not want to join an agency but feel that independent childminders will eventually be pushed out. offering things like funding to those that join agencies. As I said, I generally dont want to join an agency but fear that we will have no real choice eventually.

From Debbie Ford

Dear Ms Truss, I have worked really hard to build my business into a thriving independent professional child care setting. I have gained an Ofsted grading of Outstanding in all areas. I continually access any training available to provide ever higher quality care. I believe in order to maintain high standards it is very important that all childminder’s are graded by Ofsted on an individual basis rather than umberella ratings for agencies. I honestly feel my smaller individual setting can provide highly personalised care with lots of 1:1 time which I believe babies and young children need to give them the best possible start in life. I feel threatened by agencies and the lack of information you are giving us about them. Yes Ms Truss you say we can remain independent but at what cost to childminders, parents and the safety of our children?.

From Val Bushby

Dear Ms Truss Thank you for informing childminders by letter but I have not as yet received mine nor have quite a lot in my area. But in reply to your letter that I have looked at on the internet. I am have worked for myself as a mothers help plus have been a Registered Childminder for some 24 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 or higher education some staying as long as 9 years.. 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 they become the first person I spoke to if I had any niggles or problems or general advice. I had a one page NCMA childminding contract, an Emergency Contact sheet and an authority for medical intervention in emergencies. Going on to informed the taxman I had set up a small childcare business and bought a accounts book also from NCMA. Following the rules on setting up having a safety gate ,fire blanket, fire alarms fitted to give us advice we all completed a 6 week training on what a childminder was expected to do in a home based childcare setting and understanding what problems you could encounter too, complete a first aid course . Then after doing all these small things we was re-inspected and wow I was ready for business . The children were well cared for in ‘an affordable, flexible and home-based environment’ – as you stated in your letter, the ‘preferred option’ for many parents this would be what they would like for their children. 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 having a fun day etc. the list is endless. The children all developed into well rounded individuals who were ready for school and to face the new challenges this will bring. They have grown into young adults going on to university, traveling raising money for charities that support third worlds building schools educating children. Having children of their own teaching them the same family value as both their parents and myself taught them. 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’ and give them a chance to see in one day the way children in my care fulfil there days, 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 am looking to do accredited childminder so I can deliver all children’s needs up to 3 and 4 yrs. and a member of the local childminding support group and also know of many such groups in York and have got to know a lot of wonderful childminders that are happy to share their experiences in childcare and give support as needed to both childminders that have years behind them and also the ones that have just a little which is great as its away that has brought us closer as childminders in York. I agree with the Government on the removal of this requirement for funded places and have made this much simpler to do. A lot of what we do is nothing more than a duplication of paperwork and an unnecessary and very stressful too at the end of some days a 12 hour day. The Interference, often by ‘so called better ways to deliver the EYFS’ by people who had little or no experience/understanding of the work we do. We were repeatedly encouraged to implement more policies/procedures to justify their needs and existence. I still have a childminding contract (but now it has four pages long), 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 to write all these things down and put into easy accessible folders too, 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, which is very easily got hold off during working hours and again by e mail too out of hours too. NCMA (now PACEY), Morton and Michelle, nursery world to name but a few. We have excellent support with-in our local childminding groups in different areas all over the city. I understand that in some areas that the Local Authority support is to be slimmed down. But hopefully there will still be someone to point you in the right direction when needed too. I would suggest that if a Childminders are not able to pick up a phone to access support of their own, they are not able or being shown what is already in place for them. It’s a large responsibility to be given the title of ‘Registered Childminder’. Individual’s childminders should not need to be led to everything but by given them support and encouragement. understanding that they are intelligent and are strong enough to go out and get it themselves ,as we all have done in the past many years too. 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 for the simplicity, 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. Yes it would possibly work for a few new ones, but you also have hundreds of very well established childcare settings that have worked very hard over a great deal of years to become a self-employed independent childminder that holds the true values of home from home childcare that has put many hours beyond her day into further training in all aspects and different ways of promoting her business covering all ranges and needs of children in her care by completing childcare diploma’s level 3 recognized in schools and nursery’s as the same qualification as this Government said all nursery nurse worker should hold , Yes we child minded working though our days then into the evening and weekends to completed this diploma to put alongside the many others that have already been done. I have already heard a new childminder locally say that childminding is one of the only jobs she can get as she needs to do something that works around her children and home AND still be able to claim her benefits. That not why many of use loyal long term childminders are working from our homes, we still believe there is a need for family care in a home based settings where you can freely nurture a child in many ways to be confident and Sociably ready to embark on the next steps of schooling well done in encouraging this type of person into the Childcare profession they don’t stay in childcare they move on to a job that has less impact on their lives and homes! 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 to carry on with the chosen line of work that I felt was right for me many years ago. I agree chances are hard to take on board but at the same time I have worked tirelessly at making these work for me and my family.by reaching a standard of care and facilities that both my children and parents are happy with and contented to leave there children in my care and not be answerable to an agency that can’t improve on ways I run my business or change the standard of care already in place or make a difference to the cost for each family to pay-out. This is again the way forward is for as a government STOP messing with children’s futures and help families to keep working and returning to jobs. Not come up with plans that involve parents paying out more by having to register with agencies ,by this you are limiting the choices that they will have as no independent childcare are wanting this and want to remain so. You will course confusion and parents will not be sure what to do for the best. Already you can see around us a number of un-registered people that are looking after children and I honestly expect to see more, which in my opinion is very sad as parents deserve to know that the individual person that is caring for their family have all the qualifications to a high standard plus insurance and first-aid to enable them to follow all the childcare standards that have been brought in to rise the welfare of all children in the uk. You will force this onto parents by forcing good childminders to give up. Please think in the greater scheme of things would this be what parents, children and the future of childcare a very valuable part of growing up needs

 

 

One response to “Part FIVE – We are all saying ‘NO to childminding agencies’

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  1. Pingback: Bringing together all the blogs with letters against childminding agencies | Penny's Place Childminding

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