Part TWO – We are all saying ‘NO to Childminding Agencies’   1 comment

Continuing with the letters sent to myself, to give to Elizabeth Truss about childminding agencies

 

From Lisa Fricker

Dear Ms Truss
Before I talk about your blanket letter that you are sending out to Childminders I would like to tell you a little about myself. When my son was a few months old I took part in a free baby massage course at my local Sure Start centre. A lady came in and talked to us about re-training and becoming Childminders, I could do that I thought and I did. I started my Level 3 Diploma in Home-Based Childcare a few months later, the training was provided by NCMA (now PACEY) with an 80% grant from my Local Authority and excellent support from the LAs Development Officers. That was in 2008, I have been childminding since 2009. My last graded inspection was Good with Outstanding features for Safety and Safeguarding. In the following years I have held various volunteer roles – support childminder; run a childminder drop in group and champion childminder. My current volunteer roles are PACEY Local Facilitator for Southampton; Committee member of PACEY South East Region and PACEY National Policy Forum member for South East Region.

So now you know a little more about me then maybe you might listen to me as a Professional Childminder and understand why there are so many others like myself telling you why most (not all) of your governments childcare proposals are wrong and does not put the Child first. You need to remember that the Welfare of the Child is paramount in everything we do. So back to your blanket letter, firstly I have wondered why you are bothering to send us out this
letter when it tells us nothing new. In fact, you have said the same things in nearly all your interviews. We need more information about childminder agencies, it’s all a bit cloak and dagger. You say that these reforms are designed to make it easier to work as a Childminder. How is this possible? Please explain because it won’t make any difference, are agencies going to do my job for me or my EYFS paperwork, or clean my house? How will it attract new people? And if our profession is so important then why do you not listen or consult with us? How will they make it easier to access government funding? I already access funded education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds. I have parents that claim working tax credits and some that pay me with childcare vouchers. I don’t have a problem with childminder agencies providing support for the people that want to buy their services, but I must just say that I have never met or spoken to one on social media who wants to join an agency. I do however have a problem with the lose of Individual Inspections by OFSTED.
You say that Childminders are the preferred option for many parents and that we offer an affordable and flexible home-based environment. Yes, I agree that we do, so why do you want to change things? You often say about reducing the cost of childcare, but how are any of your governments proposals going to do this? Agencies are just bringing in someone else who is looking to make a profit, can you really deny that? You mention that the number of Childminders has declined in the last twenty years. Yes, this is true but have you looked at the reasons why? Ofsted and EYFS 2008 are two reasons, but have you
thought how many more will leave with the introduction of Childminder Agencies and the lack of  funding to the LAs to help support the Independent Childminders.  One good thing you have done is make Early Education Funding available to all good and outstanding OFSTED Registered Childminders. But there is one thing I am curious about, what will happen to Agency Childminders because they won’t have an OFSTED grade? How are you
going to make this work?
So onto Agencies, exactly how will they help to increase the number of Childminders? You have hopefully read above how I became a Childminder? The Early Years Teams within the LAs were very good at getting out and about in the Community, well they were before their funding was cut and many people were made redundant.  You also say that getting established can be complex and time consuming, I didn’t find it so. I had support from my professional membership organisation NCMA (now PACEY) and my Early Years LA Team. So how exactly will an agency cut the complexity and time scale?
Marketing our businesses is not very complicated. We have the LAs Family Information Service, private websites, yellow pages, facebook, schools and play/drop in groups to name but a few. But the most important is word of mouth from our Clients and that is something an agency can not
replace. Training has always been available from our Early Years Team at the LA, but we do often get together as a group and buy in outside training with no hidden costs. How long the LA will be able to continue I don’t know, again this is because of your governments funding costs. The important part of the whole selection process is meeting with the prospective parents and child in your home and having a very informal first meeting. We need to work together very closely with the parents for the welfare of their child and some people you just don’t get along with, so working together would be impossible and detrimental to the child. How are the agency going to do this? The whole OFSTED inspection of agencies is something that I am really not happy about, in fact it
concerns me greatly. Removing Individual Childminder Inspections by OFSTED is going to cause safety, safeguarding and who knows what other concerns. In fact when the complaints do arise whowill investigate, the agency or OFSTED? A two-tier level of Childcare service which your proposals will create will cause a whole host of problems especially with parents getting confused by different types of Inspection Reports. The whole sector needs to be inspected by one regulatory body and that should remain OFSTED.
You say that joining an agency will be entirely voluntary. What you don’t say is when the agencies fail because all the Childminders don’t want to join them we will just make them compulsory. Yes, we do speak to our colleagues in Australia and we know what happened over there. In fact we have very good peer to peer support networks both here in the UK and abroad. We didn’t need agencies to arrange them we done it ourselves.
In regard to opening the schools longer, who will be providing the service for the extra hours? Do you really think that children will benefit from being in the school environment for that many hours of the day? Childminders already work in partnership with schools, nurseries, pre-schools, other childminders, social care and parents/guardians and we do already offer wrap-around care for school children whilst also caring for their siblings and providing their learning and development experiences.
You finish by saying that you know Childminders have an important role to play, but do you really? All that you have done over the last two years seems to be leading to the extinction of Childminders.
In fact on reading your letter all you are really saying is that the agencies are going to do something for us that we could easily do ourselves and in fact thousands of us did and hopefully will continue to do, and they are going to charge us a nice little fee to do so. So if I have got everything right
your government saves money by not funding the LAs properly and not making any financial arrangements to the Childminder Agencies. Then, the agencies charge the Childminders to join the agency, a fee for their support services on a sliding scale depending on what level of support they need, is training (CPD) included or is that another fee? Then possibly any little extras that you may possibly need to keep up with whatever the legislative goalposts have been changed to now is another fee. Let’s not forget that the parents will also be charged for joining the agency and for using their services. So please can you just tell me how will childcare become more affordable?  When these increases in our fees will have to be passed onto the parent because we will not be able to absorb them in our costs because we really do not earn a lot of money. Also the parents will have the added cost of their agency fees as well as increased fees from us. More Affordable Childcare this is looking to be!
So to finish I hope you have gathered my main points, but if not, I simply put the main ones again.
• ALL Childminders/Early Years Settings to be inspected individually by OFSTED
• No two-tier Childcare System
• No agencies
So basically please STOP what you are doing and LISTEN and CONSULT with us and the whole
Sector

From Adele Berry

Dear Mrs Truss,

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

Many established childminders already run their own successful businesses. We like being our own boss.

Why break something that is not broken?

You say there is not enough childcare for the workers. What are we? Doormats?

No, we are not. We provide a ‘home from home’ childcare service and many of us are very flexible with the care we provide for the families that use our services.

See? That’s the key word. Service!

We are not employed by the parents, or the Local Authority or even by Ofsted! We are self-employed!

So why would we want to join and Agency?

So far you have not given any of us any answers to our questions:

Will we have to pay to join?

Will we still be self-employed?

Will we have the Agency grading?

Will we have to take the families that are ‘matched’ to us?

There are many other questions that I’m sure you’ll be sick of them soon enough.

I’m sure you’ve got people higher up breathing down your neck demanding results. But think carefully about your next steps as there are many good, caring people out there who are worried about their livelihoods and they do not want to have to leave a profession they love.

And finally, think of the children. They deserve a better life in the UK. Institutionalised care is not the answer. Family life (in whatever form) matters more than the drive to increase productivity. Otherwise the future will be very bleak.

From Rebecca Martland

Dear Ms Truss

Thank you for your recent letter detailing Government reforms affecting Childminders in England. I am aware that you are meeting with a number of professional bodies representing Childminders and I am writing this letter to express my own views.

I am not against the idea of Childminder Agencies in principle. I understand much of the logic behind them and can see why some Childminders might find being a part of an agency appealing. I do however have major concerns about the way they are being introduced, and the long term implications, especially for those Childminders preferring independent, direct registration with Ofsted.

As long as agency membership remains optional and non-agency members are not discriminated against in any way my chief concern relates to that of ensuring quality & consistency. I believe that retaining individual Ofsted inspections for all Childminders is essential in order to maintain standards and ensure quality that can be judged consistently across the whole childcare sector. Current proposals will create a confusing two-tier system of registration and inspection which will be neither robust nor safe. I cannot therefore support any agency proposals that do not include individual inspections by Ofsted for all Childminders.

In my opinion agencies will create an additional layer of bureaucracy which will drive up costs of childcare to parents and the running costs for Childminders. Agencies will duplicate existing services that are currently and adequately provided by most Local Authorities, at higher cost with no guarantee of higher quality.

I believe there needs to be a very thorough analysis of the implications of agencies to parents; children; existing and future Childminders (independent and agency); LA teams; other childcare providers; and Ofsted, and that the results of this analysis should inform a full public consultation. The introduction of agencies should be delayed until September 2015 at the earliest, giving time for consultation and pilots to be effectively evaluated.

From 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 surprised that as a working mother yourself you have such little disregard to the thousands of childminders throughout the country who chose this career to support their own families and those of other working parents.

I am at a complete loss to understand why you have failed to engage with childminders nationally, have chosen to ignore emails and letters and generally just not listened to the people who know the most about this job.

We know this job, we understand what is required and where we need to go to get support and training, even though Ofsted inspections can be daunting it is vital to the safety of the children in our care that each childminder continues to be inspected individually regardless of if they remain independent or join an agency.

An agency is not an option for me or for any childminder I have come across in person or on support networks online. The parents of the children I care for do not believe they are a good idea and would never use one.

Agencies will not attract outstanding or good childminders as we have those grades because of the hard work we have put into our practise through training and personal development. Agencies will create a two tier system and confusion for parents looking for childminders.

As a small business it is important that I know if the annual fee to Ofsted is going to remain the same as I need to consider if my fees have to increase. I fail to understand why you have not answered that question.

You repeatedly say that childminders have the choice to remain independent but at what cost will that be. Will it be more expensive for me to access training? Will I still be able to offer 15 hours free funding to 2 and 3 year olds? Will parents still be able to claim tax credits and childcare vouchers? Have you given any thought to the stress and anxiety that these unanswered questions are causing childminders?

I doubt that you have because I doubt that you even read the emails and letters that you receive, I doubt very much you will read this, but I cannot sit back and let you arrogantly believe you are doing the right thing.

Once agencies are in place if I find that my business is no longer viable I will hang up my childminding gloves and seek alternative employment and I am 100% confident I will not be the only one.

Some childminders will find alternative ways of working, either by classing themselves as a nanny or just continuing as they are and de registering with Ofsted. Either way the profession will lose many fantastic childminders as well as leaving the safety aspect for children wide open as there will be no regulation.

Do you eventually intend for childminders to compulsory have to join agencies which is what happened in Australia?

All I ask you as one professional to another is to please answer our questions and listen to what we have to say, as each day passes I become more disheartened with my job and feel attacked from all angles. You could help myself and other childminders to not feel this way.

From Tara Malton

Dear Ms Truss

I am writing with regard to your letter to all childminders in England and have the following comments to make:
I have been childminding over 12 years, am level 4 qualified, and have been graded outstanding twice by Ofsted on my last 2 inspections.  I am also a SENCo and have undertaken many courses over the years.  I offer high quality care to my families that suits their individual and bespoke needs in today’s climate.
We have spent many years since Ofsted took over from our local authority pushing to be seen as an equal (if not better in my opinion) setting to nursery and pre-school education! Why? Because we offer good ratios and know our children very well – with small numbers we can plan to their individual needs and no child goes unnoticed.
There are childminders in some areas that cant get any work – yet you want to bring in more childminders? Sustainability is not even possible now in all areas….
Accessing government funding – we can already do this….. Sadly the funding changes dependent on each local authority and thats wrong – equality on this is essential and something the government can do easily!  Why do childminders not access it you ask? Simply because the rates of a funded place is less than a normal childminding rate – so you want us to work for less, increase our outgoings and do more paperwork?  Hmmm personally I dont think so.  Would you?
Agencies – as an outstanding childminder I will NEVER join an agency! Why? Because there is nothing an agency can offer me! To use an agency will cost me money – I also want my individual Ofsted inspection – I work exceptionally hard and deserve my outstanding grade and I will never work for an agency where I have to accept a group grading.  I can advertise my own business – I don’t need an agency to do that.  ‘Im full – I don’t need an agency to find me work.  I’m educated – I understand what I’m doing – I don’t need an agency to tell me what to do.  I design my own paperwork that actually works for me and my business – I don’t need a form designed by someone in an office that has never done my job and doesn’t have a clue what it entails.  I can source my own training (and have done this already).  I can liaise with other local childminders via email and social networking to set up training – I don’t need or want to pay an agency for anything I’m capable of doing myself.  In summary what can an agency offer me? The answer is simple – nothing except costing me money and downgrading MY successful high quality business!
New childminders, it seems, wont have an option – you will force them into agencies as that will be the only way to register – perhaps you would like to confirm to us this is not the case?
Childminders on the decline?  Yes thats true – because the parents cannot afford childcare so dont work – why not change the way childcare and tax credits operate in this Country and make it affordable? Ive had parents that can afford childcare for one child, but to have 2 unless well paid is impossible.  I would love to know in which areas childminders are at a shortage? Not aware of ANY area of the country where this is true??
Childminders will continue to decline… why? because they wont work for an agency, they are investigated for malicious complaints, there is no consistency in Ofsted insepctions, they dont agree with the way your government is changing things.  Also if the changes take place there will be LESS childminding work available – something no one seems to have considered!
You are obviously not educated on social networking for childminders – everything you say an agency will do can already be done – the only difference being NO FEES to childminders!  Newer childminders are usually computer literate – it wont take them long to find relevant groups and get peer support.  No one wants to pay for it or can even afford to!
Current trials – why all the secrecy?  We still know nothing and what we do hear is they are not cost effective – why not stop them now, put money into ensuring that parents can afford high quality childminders and let children be children.  A childminder is a great environment – home from home, siblings together, bespoke service, shift workers catered for etc – institutions are wrong for small children.
Local authority networks – you as a government got rid of the need for a childminder accessing the funding to be part of one = no more networks.  Cost saving for the LA yet they dont pass it on to childminders by increasing our funded hourly rate and keep it in their pockets!
Working with Schools – seriously opening more hours for the smaller children is crazy – many of them cant cope with the hours now.  Children seriously need family time – but they will be too tired for that! Putting 2 year olds in school is the craziest idea Ive heard of to date – these small children  need nurturing and support – not institutionalised! They need to learn social skills – we dont live in a romanian orphanage where children lay in cots and dont move – that was the past – do you want to push the UK into that?  Think of the damage to the children long term – social interaction cannot be done with 2 year olds in large numbers with one or 2 adults – they need more individual care to grow and learn.
As for working with my local school? Really??? You are reorganising the schools in my County of Suffolk from 3 tier to 2 tier – you are closing ‘good’ Ofsted graded schools and keeping ‘inadequate’ schools open.  How does that possibly make any logic or sense? The schools and teachers I have spoken to dont have space now, they dont have the staff and dont want the younger children.
Please take note and listen to what we are telling you as professionals – we care about the children who are the future of this county and are appalled at the way this Government is moving forward.  A paper exercise is not a reality exercise.  I actually thought a coalition govenrment would be good for our country and our future – you have all very sadly proved me wrong.
‘This Government knows that childminders have an important role to play in both supporting parents and improving outcomes for children. That is why we are doing all we can to support you in this. I wish you every success in your work with children and families. ‘ – sadly this was your last statement on your letter – my response is YES we are important – we are amazing – but you are working against us and sadly not supporting our sector at all.  Lets hope you take note before its too late…..

From Kerri Bishop

I still have not heard one single explanation of how childminding agencies will reduce costs for parents. Please, can you just give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question….if parents and childminders pay another party for a service in addition to childcare fees, where EXACTLY is the saving?

Please also explain why agency childminders cannot be individually inspected by Ofsted. The point of an Ofsted inspection, is that they are an independent body, impartial, fair (supposedly) and parents trust their judgements. In my opinion, and I know I’m not alone in this, by having profit making agencies assess the quality of their own childminders there is a clear conflict of interests and that process is open to all sorts of abuse. And when it comes to quality of care; to safeguarding our youngest, most vulnerable children Ms Truss, are we really prepared to allow room for that to happen? Are you prepared to bear the consequences of the inevitable tragedy and cover up scandal when something goes horribly wrong because an agency was more interested in their bottom line than the actual care that their service provides?

Talking of things going horribly wrong, how are agency childminders going to be distinguishable from independent ones? So if a member of the public is concerned about poor practice they’ve observed, where do they go to report it? Ofsted will have no record of an agency childminder, and how would a stranger know which agency a childminder belonged to?

What happens to an agency childminder if their agency goes bust? What happens if a childminder wants to leave an agency, or indeed join one? What happens to the families that they currently mind? Are independent childminders going to be forced to join agencies by the very fact that remaining registered directly with Ofsted is going to cost too much? How are businesses going to remain sustainable without putting up the cost to parents? Where will independent childminders access cpd? Are agencies going to be marketed as preferable to independent childminders? Will new childminders be informed that they have a choice, or will they be led blindly into the agency system because they’re not told there’s an alternative? How will agencies promote all childminders equally, giving parents the ultimate choice and not excluding those that are in need of the most support?

Regardless of whether or not we choose to join an agency, the implications of their introduction on our businesses and to parents are going to be massive, yet there are so many questions that have been asked over and over again but that we’re not getting any responses to, either from government or those bodies that are trialling agency models. If you really have as much respect for childminders as you claim to, then please do us the courtesy of giving us the answers we need before it’s too late.

From Jane Bromfield

Dear Ms Truss,
 
I am an Ofsted Registered Childminder and I am writing to you again in regards to Childminder Agencies. I am keeping this letter brief as my previous letters have been packed with information about why Childminder  Agencies are not a good idea.
So now all I wish to say is:-
  • I will not be joining an agency UNLESS I am forced to do so.
  • I know no other childminder that will join an agency.
  • I do not understand how the creation of agencies will make childcare BETTER.
  • I do not understand how the creation of agencies will make childcare MORE AFFORDABLE.  

 

From Sarah Underhill

Dear Ms Truss
 
In response to your letter to all childminders dated 3rd February 2014.
 
I am a childminder of 8 years standing with an Ofsted grading of Good.  I am independent and will remain so for as long as I am financially able to, should the time come that my business is unsustainable due to the inevitable increases in cost due to the introduction of agencies I will become one of the thousands of fantastic childminders with excellent reputations who leave the profession.
 
You say you would like to see the number of childminders grow and that agencies will be able to help this process.  At present we have Local Authority support and advice to see us through the process of Ofsted Registration, medical checks, paediatric first aid training etc.  We also have our professional body PACEY as support in all things on the business side. Both offer access to various training programmes at a small cost or for free in some instances.  Why would anyone need to pay a substantial amount to an agency for support that is already in place?
 
You state that agencies will need to register and be inspected by Ofsted to ensure they meet safeguarding and quality standards but who will inspect the childminders?  The agencies apparently, who have a vested interest to say that their childminders are of a high standard.  All childminders whether agency or independent should retain their right to a full Ofsted inspection ensuring that these standards are maintained.  As a parent myself, that piece of paper showing that an individual has been inspected would be much more important to me than one saying that the agency has been inspected.
 
Cost – you would like childcare costs to decrease, how are agencies going to support this?  They are apparently not going to be receiving funding from the government and therefore need to be sustainable.  The only way this will happen is by charging both the parents and the childminders a fee.  Childminders will have to reflect this new outgoing within their fees and therefore parents will be paying both the agency and an increased fee to their childminder.  This does not add up!
 
I would like to ask why this new agency model will be going ahead without proper consultation with the people it affects the most – the Ofsted Registered Childminders.  We need answers, we need more information and then we need a proper consultation before decisions that will affect thousands of businesses and families are made.
 
 From Carolyn Simpson
Hello let me introduce myself my name is Carolyn and I am and always will be a independent childminder and will as long as I can be a Ofsted registered childminder, as that counts for something parents recognise that it is a tried and tested brand and will just be confused with agencie gradings which still have not be explained along with lots of other information  . I do not want to be part of a agencie and fail to see how a agencie can in any way benefit me or the parents of my children i look after why is this government ignoring what the voters want and forcing through these agencies? I know no one who likes this idea and would like to learn just how many established childminders are supporting you in this ill thought out scheme of yours.

 I have heard that new childminders are being railroaded into becoming agencie childminders as they are told there is no help from county councils or organisations such as TRIO providing and running subsadised  courses essential to the running of a childminding business and as for a agencie taking over the burden of running my business I feel insulted I do not consider it a burden I do my paperwork keep up with my accounts weekly fill in my tax return and pay any tax due done not a problem. Vacancy filling again not a problem I advertise locally on a UK site and everywhere else for free  why would I need to pay a agency fee what can they do for me NOTHING THATS WHAT.
From Jayne Knight

Dear Elizabeth Truss,

 

You say in your letter that childminders are the preferred option for many parents offering affordable, flexible and a home-based environment.  I agree, but tell me how an agency will provide parents with cheaper childcare if childminders are already offering an affordable alternative to a nursery ?

You say, that not all childminders are able to access support to help them deliver high quality childcare for children.  All childminders must be able to access support to be graded by Ofsted and as I speak childminders must be able to access training already to offer high quality training.

Making early education funding available.  This is already easily available by local authorities if childminders are “ Good” or “Outstanding” graded by Ofsted.  An agency will become a blanket for those childminders who are not providing good quality childcare.  How is this offering the welfare of a small child?

Agencies are to make it easier for parents to find childminders.  Partents in my area already know who are childminders and they are known by local schools.  Agencies are to offer emergency over.  Is this really in the interest of the child ?  I don’t know any child who is happy to go and spend any amount of time with someone they have no bond with, especially a stranger.  That’s why childminders offer a settling in period.

How will agencies regisgter with Ofsted? What training will staff have at an agency with the EYFS and childcare ?  Childminders have to keep up to date with training with Safeguarding and quality standards already.  Parents are aware that childminders are Ofsted checked and already have confidence in the care we provide.  Why will it be better coming from an agency ??

Again, there is still no mention of fees a childminder would pay to join an agency.  There is no mention of what fees parents need to pay to join an agency.  There is no mention of how much I would have to pay for an Ofsted check to stay a registered childminder independently.

I have read no evidence how children from the age of two will benefit from going to a school environment. They are so vulnerable at that age and need lots of attention and one to one.

Will Ofsted down grade independent childminders to force them to join agencies ?  I know for a fact that Ofsted are grading childminders unfairly at the moment and by Ofsted inspectors who have no knowledge of working with EYFS or knowledge of childminders way of working.

I don’t think anyone is listening to all these anxious childminders who do really care for the wellbeing of children in the future.  When will you listen to us Ms Truss??

From Alison Moye

Dear Ms Truss

I have been a childminder for five years and have recently been concerned about the implementation of childminding agencies.
I am a committee member of a childminding group and have always had immense some support within this group- this is something I value greatly as advice from people who are in the same situation is invaluable . My group also has a vacancy coordinator who has up to date knowledge of all childminder’s vacancies within our group. I feel very fortunate to have these people around me but I’m not alone, there are groups like mine up and down the country and there is also huge support via groups on Facebook.
This leads me to question the need for agencies. I don’t understand why I would need to pay extortionate amounts of money for someone (who may or may not have a childcare background) to do what is already being done by childminders ? It simply doesn’t make sense. You will never beat word of mouth and personal recommendations which is how most parents I have dealt with would prefer to find their childcare.
I am proud of my individual Ofsted inspection report and would never want to give that up to be lumped together with others. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I’m not going to ruin my reputation by joining an agency.
From Jennifer McQuillian
Dear Ms Truss,
As a registered childminder for the last seven years, I am always full and have a waiting list. I have been graded Outstanding in all areas twice. I run a highly proficient, loving and caring childminding service. I have zero interest in joining an agency as they can offer me nothing.
I don’t want a blanket grading either. This is most unfair as there will be those who deserve a higher grading who will be pulled down to a lesser grading, and those that achieve a higher shared grading who actually do not deserve it. This is not accurate and is not a true reflection of the childcare service being provided.
If it means that only agency childminders will be able to provide govt subsidised funding and child care vouchers etc. then this will definitely create a two tier system… Where the less well off will use agency childminders and the well off will use independent childminders. Many childminders will close if they’re unable to offer funding, as their demographic demands it.
We are SELF EMPLOYED. We pay our taxes, we hire staff, we provide a flexible and much needed service to our future leaders. What other industry has been so attacked as us right now? Imagine the huge outcry were all the self employed accountants in England told they’d have to join an agency to ‘deal with their paperwork and bring them clients’… One of the joys of being self employed is being able to choose our clients! I am not a drop in centre, I am a childminder. I work from my home so am careful re who I choose enters it… I choose my own families. They choose me for the specific service I provide.
Different childminders offer different things – some do school runs, some do not. Some are open only during term time, some are open all year round. Some have a variety of age groups, some focus on a particular age group. Some cook fresh and nutritious meals from scratch, some prefer the mindees provide their own food. There’s nothing standard or ‘agency’ about us. No middle man is needed. How terribly confusing an agency will make things.
The current system works. I’d gladly pay OFSTED more for my inspection. I work hard for my grading. I’m qualified in every way to run my childminding business as is seen in the success that it is. Nothing needs changing.
My LA and Early Years Childminding team (Wandsworth) are superb!!!! Offering incredible training and support. Dedicated and professional. Why take this away?
Why change something that doesn’t need fixing? Please leave us alone so we can focus on our businesses and the precious ones in our care, without this dark cloud looming overhead, threatening to take our livelihoods and businesses we are so passionate about, away from us. We live in a democracy do we not? Bullying and undermining and creating fear is not democratic or fair or even very nice. And sadly, that is what is happening.
Lets put the children first please.
From Jane Fear

Dear Ms Truss

I am writing with regard to your proposals for Childminder Agencies and their planned introduction in September 2014.

I, and many of my colleagues, strongly oppose these proposals and I am yet to meet a childminder who is willing and able to contemplate joining.

I have been a childminder, registered with OFSTED, since 2003, a lot has changed in the last 11 years, a lot of it for the better. With the introduction of the EYFS putting us on a level playing field with local nurseries and pre schools.  Numbers of childminders did drop following the introduction of EYFS but this was mainly because it sorted out those individuals that did not want to go that extra mile for our children and therefore should be seen as beneficial, as those that remained have been willing to undertake additional training to ensure that the children in our care receive the best of experiences.

I was extremely proud to be awarded an outstanding grading by OFSTED which goes some way to recognising how hard I have worked to ensure that the children in my care receive the best possible care that I can provide.

My business has changed, progressed and thrived since the beginning and I now work alongside my husband as a newly registered Childminder, bringing a very much needed male presence to our early years workforce.  Infact there are several male childminders in our area and a successful childminding group that offers peer support and a back up service to local minders.

I cannot see where agencies fit in, there is no need for a middle money making organisation, parents are more than capable of sourcing child care for themselves, they do  not need to pay for the service, this will just increase costs to parents, how can that be “more affordable childcare”.

I beg you to listen, to reconsider and to think about the thousands of small businesses that your proposals threaten.

From Jane’s husband Ray

Dear Ms Truss

I am writing with regard to your proposals for Childminder Agencies and their planned introduction in September 2014.

I am a newly registered male childminder who works alongside my wife who has been childminding for 10 + years.

I have received support from our local authority and they have now funded my Level 3 qualification which I am just beginning.

I strongly oppose the introduction of childminder agencies and cannot see the need for a middle man who will increase the costs for parents and childminders who already work to a very tight budget.

I believe that the introduction of childminder agencies will make the mine field of finding suitable childcare for your child even more confusing and difficult and will create a two tier system.

I work alongside a few, more experienced, rated outstanding childminders and they have no intention of joining a childminder agency.  Will the only minders on agencies be new and inexperienced minders and those who need extra support anyway??  How will the agency earn a good reputation if all the minders on their books are new or struggling minders.

Please rethink this proposal, there will only be one benefit and that will be reduced costs to the government – everyone elses costs will rise!!

 

More letters to follow in part three of this blog

 

One response to “Part TWO – 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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