Confusion about so called agencies – that are not agencies!!   6 comments

Over the last couple of weeks I have been seeing a number of posts on Social media – and spoken to a few people who are really worried.

These people are all registered childminders – and are all worried about the same thing!

YES …………….. CHILDMINDER AGENCIES

It seems that some local authorities are either not using the right terminology – or – are not explaining things very well, about just what it is that they are going to be doing in their area.

Childminders are telling me that their Local Authority is setting up a childminder agency – and they are very upset and very worried about this.

So before anyone panics any more than they need to – there is one VERY IMPORTANT question you need to ask.

HAS YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY SAID THAT YOU NEED TO RETAIN YOUR INDIVIDUAL OFSTED REGISTRATION – AND BE INSPECTED BY OFSTED?

If the answer is YES – then your Local Authority are NOT setting up a childminder agency.

If you don’t know the answer – please ask your LA – as soon as possible – because the answer is critical in knowing if  they are going to set up a childminder agency or not.

To be a childminder agency, all the childminders in the agency have to be registered and quality assured through the agency – there is not an option within the Children and Family Act for an independent Ofsted Registered childminder to be part of an agency – although of course they may be able to take part in training and so on for a fee if the agency allows this.

SO – TO BE CLEAR – IF YOU ARE REQUIRED TO STAY REGISTERED AND INSPECTED BY OFSTED – YOU ARE NOT BEING ASKED  / TOLD TO JOIN A CHILDMINDER AGENCY.

What a lot of Local Authorities are doing is becoming a ‘Commissioning Service’ – this means they will stop providing services such as support / training / advice themselves to early years settings – although they will retain some statutory duties towards those who are graded inadequate or requires improvement.

In practice what this means to childminders (and other EY settings in the area) is that will will pay a fee to a private company for the services that they need / want.

Some of these companies / Local Authorities will be setting a yearly or monthly fee, which will give childminders (and other EY settings) certain services – such as statutory training – like First Aid and so on.

Others will be offering a ‘Pay as you go’ service when you just pay for services as and when you need / use them.

Some will be doing a combination of both these things

Some will still offer statutory training for free or at a subsidised price but will charge for other things.

It will be a bit confusing with each area doing something different – but once we get our heads round it – it won’t be any different to now – with the wide variation in level of services and prices charged. It may turn out to be a good thing  as we may get more choice or availability – and even market place competition that may make training courses and other services cheaper.

HOWEVER PLEASE DON’T PANIC – If you are told your local authority is setting up an childminder agency in your area or you are told a private company is setting up offering support services  – ASK THAT ONE VITAL QUESTION

          AM I REQUIRED TO REMAIN REGISTERED AND INSPECTED BY OFSTED

And just for information and your interest – although I do not have the full details and non of the information I have has been officially confirmed  – to the best of my knowledge – at this moment in time ……….

……… It may be quite hard to find a full blown TRUSS TYPE childminder agency where you DO NOT need to stay registered with Ofsted –  to join – as a lot – if not most of the agency pilots ………

…………………ARE NOT GOING FORWARD TO RUN CHILDMINDER AGENCIES.:)

6 responses to “Confusion about so called agencies – that are not agencies!!

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  1. West Sussex County Council have said that they are a Commissioning Council, their statement is that they will only do the things they are compelled to do by law themselves and everything else will be outsourced. This is not only in relation to Childminding, but all services.

  2. It is my understanding that Hertfordshire Early Years has been an ‘Independent’ company providing training which we now pay a lot more for since this arrangement started about 2-3 years ago. We can also commission the services of the trainers at a cost to carry our training locally to us. There is a Consultative body which cm were apparently invited to join via Children’s Centres (rolls eyes!) and it is from the last meeting of this body that the childminders who when have reported that Hertfordshire intends to set up an Agency and they were asking us what we wanted them to do. (how long is a piece of string and if they don’t know what they are supposed to do as an Agency how do they expect me to know??) That is as far as it has got except that they don’t expect to be up and running until at least Jan 2015. Well I’m not surprised if they don’t know what they are doing!!

    It is a bit like this Dutch Company who have been asking questions. I still have no idea the relevance of us being a member of Pacey or not? Has our esteemed Mrs Truss not set up a model for her precious Agencies and how she wants them to run? What actually has come out of the pilot schemes except that the majority of the Companies seem to have walked away fast? Hasn’t she got her precious St Bedes to set up a model?

    It all seems to be such a mess it is no wonder people are confused and scared.

    • Thank you Brita – my understanding – but I may be wrong is that in Hertfordshire childminders will still need to retain their Ofsted registration – and therefore it is not a Truss type agency. I will update as and when I know more – it is very difficult to get anything confirmed at the moment!

      Truss does not have an agency model in mind – in fact that is one her of her key points – each agency will set its own model.

      We are still waiting the official feedback from the pilots – all my information so far is based on indiviiduals providing me with info about what is happening in their area.

      Re Commissioning Services – this means that LA no longer have to provide these services or even co ordinate them or anything much – they just have to ensure the services are available – so in effect private companies will tender to deliver these services – and then get on with it.

      Up to now some LA’s have had a tendering requirement for training providers that they use – but they have retained control and produced information – and in some cases subsidised this training. In the future once the services have been commissioned out the LA will have fulfilled their legal requirement. My personal opinion is that some LA’s will do a good job of managing the transition and future QA of these commissioned services – and some won’t.

      As you say – it is all very confusssing

  3. Thanks, Penny. Do you have any idea as yet which local authorities will be doing what? And where did you find the information about which trial agencies decided to do what? Kay

    • Hello Kay – No I don’t have a complete list of what all LA’s are doing as information is slowly filtering through. With the trail agencies – I just keep my ear to the ground and I do network with a lot of people – however as I said in my blog much of it is as yet unconfirmed – and so I will not give details until the information has been confirmed.

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