Childminding Agencies now legal and going to be implemented from September 2014 . … What do those not interested in agencies do next?   6 comments

A good question really…….

What do all those who don’t want to be involved with a childminding agency do now?

Further questions spring to mind – well they do to me – and I am sure others have other questions that need thinking about.

So to get the discussions going, I am going to look at my personal questions (as below in points a – g)  and unpick them a bit. Then at the end of this blog I am going to put forward my thoughts / ideas / suggestions. Not that I think I have the answers because I don’t, but I hope to generate discussion, debate, and personal reflection. We know things are changing, but we don’t just have to wait for the changes to be thrust at us – we can be proactive and do what we do best ;

Reflect on what we want and what we need

Review what our choices and options currently are / going to be available in the future

Plan to make the changes possible and viable options

Implement those changes and options

So my a – g  questions 

a) How can we get information out to practising childminders and prospective childminders about their choices (agency or independent)?
b) Support each other?
c) Drive up quality and ensure that we build on the excellent networking and information sharing that we have established during the campaign?
d) Keep up the pressure about all the other Government proposals that we don’t agree with
e) Gather ‘evidence’ to show if agencies are successful / or not
f) Develop a national group that could be describe as the ‘Independent Ofsted Registered Childminders Agency’
g) Continue to work in partnership with as many organisations as possible

And my thinking about each of those questions

a) How can we get information out to practising childminders and prospective childminders about their choices (agency or independent)?

My worry is that the Government will  make it sound that agencies are so wonderful, that there really is not any other sensible option, and by actively promoting  agencies will make access to information easy  – while leaving people to find out through their own efforts about independent childminders.

Although I have yet to meet or speak to one person that has expressed an interest in joining a childminding agency, I know that some may be interested in the future – and that is fine, However I do not want anyone thinking that childminding agencies are the only option – and so I want to do whatever I can to make sure the FULL information is available.

I also want to work in partnership with as many different organisations and individuals as I can – as I firmly believe that people to should have free access to information so they can make informed decisions.

I am strongly against a ‘them or us’ culture / ethos – and strongly against a ‘I / we are better than you’ attitude. Throughout my campaigning against Government plans – although I have expressed my views very strongly, I have always acknowledged that others may have other views, and that ‘one size (view) does not fit all’.

b) Support each other?

Personally, I think this is going to be a challenge , because with Local Authority funding and therefore support decreasing (if not disappearing altogether), with voluntary work becoming more difficult due to ‘red tape’ and people leading busy lives, with so many different ‘paid for’ services – and with such huge differences across the country in what is available – it will be difficult to ensure everyone can access support (especially free support),.

What I don’t want to do is try to recreate the wheel and put things in place that will threaten the things already in place, or create divide – we all need to work together to ensure we cascade information whenever possible, and network to ensure information about what is available is there for everyone – all without paying a membership fee, or being penalised for accessing support from more than one source.

c) Drive up quality and ensure that we build on the excellent networking and information sharing that we have established during the campaign?

(Of course linked to point b) – One of the things that I am most proud of, is the way that I have been able to work in partnership with a wide range of early years professionals and organisations during my campaigning. I have not always agreed with everything said or done (and I am sure they have not always agreed with everything that I have said and done – especially when I have been on my ‘soap box). Information has not always been shared widely – although I have to say, information has been shared with me – I have not always been able to share with others . Of course I have always respected that confidentiality trust placed in me – but I think that we could do a lot more to share information – which I think will support driving up quality. I also think we need a central place for research based evidence – and surveys – and indeed can see no reason why we cannot conduct our own surveys.

d) Keep up the pressure about all the other Government proposals that we don’t agree with

(This is linked to point c). We all have our own views on things – and especially on Government proposals for the early years sector, so I think it would be really good to have a central point where anyone can comment, anyone can read information and share information – about Government proposals – and about action groups / campaigns that challenge those proposals.

e) Gather ‘evidence’ to show if agencies are successful / or not

In my opinion, there are two sides to this – that of agencies and of independent childminders.

With independent childminders we need evidence of Ofsted grades, of numbers registering and resigning, and parent views. How many provide the funded early education hours, fees charged by average regional stats, training audits – including number of hours of CPD

Similar for agency childminders – but the agency grade, how many agencies, the different fees charged by regional average stats, how many joining agencies – and leaving, parents views, training audits – including number of hours of CPD

So lots of factual evidences – just stating – well …. facts

f) Develop a national group that could be describe as the ‘Independent Ofsted Registered Childminders Agency’

My thinking about this is, there are lots and lots of individuals and organisations that ALREADY provide training, support (including peer support) , advice, insurance, tools of the trade and so on ……… and should all be valued and continued to be supported, plus information about these things cascaded to as many as possible.

However if we really want a national group that could be described as the ‘Independent Ofsted Registered Childminding Agency’. we need to all work together as a collective, with all the separate individuals and organisations playing their part in creating the whole package. Personally I think it would not work if one of the established groups took on this role, as those who belonged to other groups or organisation would think – what gives them the right to lead this, or I don’t want to pay to be part of the company. So I think we need a ‘umbrella body’ which is free to belong to, which does not have membership rules or restrictions, but which provides the opportunity for people to take out and put in what they can / want to – and more importantly allows the umbrella body to act collectively as and when needed (and even then with opportunity for some under the umbrella to opt out of things if they want to.)

g) Continue to work in partnership with as many organisations as possible

This links to all the other points – and is central to my suggestions. I think that the Government has done us a favour – as through campaigning against Government proposals the early years sector has realised that it is by working together that they have the strongest voice.

So those are my thoughts – please use the comments section, to add your thoughts – and your comments about my thoughts.

Now for my idea to bring all my thoughts together in a plan 

You may think my plan – just plain silly and unworkable

You may think my plan has some good bits to it – but that it needs major adaptations

You may think my plan is ok – but that you have a much better plan

Whatever you think – tell me – tell everyone who reads this blog (and share with those who don’t) That way we will get a discussion going and we will be able to debate all the points, all the options, all the ideas – and hopefully come up with something that may not be prefect, but that will work for most of the people most of the time

There is of course a danger that by sharing my ideas here in this blog; that others will ‘jump on the ‘bandwagon’ and do something similar – and if they do – well they do;  that some will not want to be involved because they don’t want to be associated with me – but that is their choice – I want to and I am willing to, work with everyone; that no one will engage with this idea – and if they don’t – well I tried.

My idea;

  • Use the ‘One Voice Together for Quality’ website as the vehicle for the umbrella under which we do everything – however think of a new Heading that says what it is on the lines of  ‘ National Ofsted Registered Independent Childminders – One Voice Together for Quality’
  • If people want to – come up with a new logo – or use the one we already have (provided free by Jennifer)
  • Set up a ‘committee type management’ – thinking one or two lead people from each LA area – who will have the password and who will be able to update stuff on the site – and who will be willing to speak on behalf of the umbrella group in their area – ie to the media, to their LA and so on. Plus a person for each organisation / individual  that works in partnership – so potentially  (NB NOT saying these people would be involved but are the sort that might be involved) Pre school Learning Alliance, Pacey, UKCMA, ICM-SE, NeyTCO, NE Training, Laura Henry,  Save Childhood Movement, Mumsnet, local childminding ghroups – and so on
  • Create clear sections – with sub sections – So Facebook support groups – then by area – then each group to have a lead person who is responsible for sending in  a description of the group, the link to the group – and to sign post to relevant posts about events and training
  • Sections – by LA area with details of groups in the areas – so things like ICM-SE playgroups, childminding groups, Pacey forums and so on.
  • Have sections for training, with all courses we know about listed by area, with links to further info – or details of the contact person.
  • A research section
  • A section all about Independent childminders – with all the facts about how to become / stay an independent cm. Links to other information. Include surveys and so on
  • A section all about agency childminders (the idea being that if some looking for information about agency childminders – they may find this site and then find the stuff on independent cms)
  • A section for each organisation under the umbrella – with links to their own sites , and an overview of what it is they do
  • I also hope that people will offer to do some short articles / blogs about their groups;  their events; their training – and the things they attend elsewhere – not anything that breaks copyright but overviews that will maybe encourage others to attend similar events – and to do their own write ups

I need to make it very clear that I will continue to pay for the running cost of the One Voice site  and that I have no intention of using it to generate any income for myself as I see this as an extension of my campaigning and efforts to work in partnership with others and to support colleagues.

But that is not all!

In each area (that wants one) create new groups or adapt existing groups by adding a new service  – I  image would be part face to face and part email based. My idea is that every one who wants to take part would pay to join and in return would be given a set number of tokens – in basic terms 1 token per £, this income would be used to set up the ‘systems’ and to buy ‘resources’,

However each member can then earn tokens from other members or pay other members for services provided.

I know this sounds as clear as mud – but I will try to explain using myself as the example.

I pay £20 to buy £20 tokens

I earn extra tokens by;

Doing a peer observation or a paperwork audit at colleagues settings  – not a requirement of the group but a service offered. I would write a report for my colleague whose setting I had visited. 

Making a cake for a social event, or by providing snacks for a event with children, or preparing a craft activity (and supplying the resources)

Providing a workshop / training session for colleagues

By producing documents that others might want / need

I would spend tokens by;

Attending training (including that which the group had brought in from outside trainers)

Asking a colleague to do a peer observation on me

Having the PDF of documents written by other members emailed to me

Consuming refreshments at events

In fact there would be no limit to services that I could provide or buy using tokens – and each group would decided which services they want to offer – and the price per service.

Members could buy more tokens if they wanted to / cash in tokens if want to.

The whole  idea is that members could if they provided services earn some money (by cashing in tokens) and members could avoid paying out cash by balancing the services they provide with the services they use.

I would suggest that groups set ‘token rates’ – so maybe making a cake 2 tokens,/ consuming refreshments 1 token for drink and cake; producing documents – 5 token per A4 page / having PDF’s of documents emailed – 2 tokens per document; Doing a peer observation and writing the report 6 tokens / Having a peer observation / receiving a report 6 tokens.

Some groups might want to sell documents / training / peer observation services to other groups – but for ‘real money’ – so I may produce a really good document and get paid in tokens by my group (and they generate an income for the group by selling it to others),   but I could  also sell the right for their members to use,  to other groups  for ‘real money’ as the copyright remains mine.

Same with training and peer observation – if I do them I get paid in cash.

So to be clear – just suggestions – open for debate and I would really welcome your comments positive or negative

6 responses to “Childminding Agencies now legal and going to be implemented from September 2014 . … What do those not interested in agencies do next?

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  1. I have been childminding since 1987. I have obtained my nvq’s 2,and 3 a foundation degree and a BA Hons degree. I have never had any vacancies,I have a waiting list and have never received a less than good grading in my inspection. But when my renewal comes up in July I will be giving it all up. Why? Because this government has taken away my independance and the professionalism I have striven for over the past 27 years of my childminding. I have lost the strength to fight any longer. I am heartbroken and I know I am not alone. Well done Mr Gove and Ms Truss what a legacy.

    • I am really sorry to hear that you are giving up – and I know that many others are thinking of giving up. In my lowest points – I also wonder if there is any point in continuing.

      Gove and Truss just do not understand why we feel like this – when agencies are not compulsory. They are creating divide between childminders, differences between some childminders – other childminders / other EY settings – and in my opinion reducing our professional standing within the EY sector – and beyond.

      They are going to lose a lot of high qualified, experienced, professional childminders – and replaced them with inexperienced, childminders who will not have any reason to improve their practice as they will not be judged on their practice – and won’t have a report or grade of their own.

  2. Penny – I think your idea of creating an umbrella service to all childminders is brilliant. As you say – it wuld not be good to have an ‘us and them’ situation between agency cm’s and individuals! We would obviously neeed local groups set up due to training – I myself am a qualified trainer. Needs a lot of thinking about and discussing but I for one would be very inerested in running a local group x

    • Thank you Fran – yes a lot of thinking is needed – and I am guessing my initial idea will evolve over time.

      I think it important to enable everyone who wants to, to work together

  3. I have read this and also think it is a great idea ,I think this information (your proposals) should be passed on to local authorities who in turn would be able to pass on to all child minders in their area to read . I personally feel that lots of child minders in my area do not understand what this means to us as independent workers, may be it should be on the agenda of the next child minding conference. if I had wanted to work for an agency I would have joined one ,obviously some people will want to join an agency that is their choice, but if they had a true understanding of what it means I am sure they would not.

  4. Pingback: Setting them on the right course for less than the cost of a cleaner | Hunky Dory Early Years

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