So – the ‘selling’ of childminder agencies has begun ……..   3 comments

…… of course we all knew this would happen and so it was not a surprise when I opened my copy of Nursery World this week and saw a full page advert placed by 4Children ‘singing the praises’ of childminder agencies.

I have attached a copy of the advert as you can not access the adverts online from Nursery World. So if not seen yet, take a look.

4Children agency advert

I personally object strongly to the wording in the title of this advert because it claims ‘Childminder agencies offer families quality, affordable, flexible childcare’,

To me that is just propaganda because how can anyone know if this is true?
Childminder agencies are in their infancy, only a couple are up and running, and none of them have been inspected by Ofsted yet on the services they provide. No one knows yet if they are flexible or affordable or of high quality.

I do not doubt that those setting up childminder agencies hope that they will be able to offer quality, affordable, flexible childcare, and it may be that in a few months or years that this claim can be substantiated.

However, at the moment we just don’t know – it takes time (quite a lot of time) to be able to provide evidence of these things, and until that evidence is available, the advert is making claims that are unproven.

It worries me that some parents will assume this advert is factually correct and not even be aware that there is another option – that of independent Ofsted registered childminders, with facts, figures and evidence available about their quality their affordability and their flexibility.

It worries me that prospective childminders will assume that the only route to becoming a childminder is the agency route.

Further, on reading the rest of the advert, it reads as if only agency childminders can access support and training, or be quality assured, or offer holiday or illness cover. Of course it was not worded as such, but they used ‘clever wording’ to suggest this.

As we know,(but readers of the advert may not know) it is not true – nearly all Ofsted registered childminders access training and support – and if they don’t their Ofsted grade will reflect this. Whereas agency childminders will only be judged on what their agencies provides – not what they as childminder settings access.

Many Ofsted registered childminders have arrangements with colleagues to provide holiday cover and illness cover, and usually with childminder colleagues who know the children well and provide similar home based environments.It is known that back up for agency childminders may be in a school nursery or a day nursery as some agencies are part of a school based enterprise. Parents may not want their child placed in that type of environment or with adults who don’t know the child well.

Also reading the advert, it seems that the agency childminders may be required to just provide the hours that no one else wants to cover, and some may be required to work on non domestic settings – such as the after school club – which to me is not childminding at all.

However, my biggest issue with this advert is that it is paid for by 4Children, who receive government funding both directly and indirectly for the childminder agency initiative, which is fine on one hand. However, on the other hand at a meeting with the ex Minister Ms. Truss in March 2014, myself and others attending (including 4Children) were told that the government would ensure that independent Ofsted registered childminders would be promoted alongside childminding agencies to ensure parents and childminders were aware of all the options.

In my opinion by placing this advert 4Children have prevented this equal promotion of childminder agencies and independent Ofsted registered childminders from happening.

It is disappointing, that 4Children have chosen to place this advert, without including information about Ofsted registered childminders, or even making other organisations that represent childminders aware that they were going to place the advert and thus giving them opportunity to consider placing their own advert promoting independent Ofsted registered childminders.

I feel very strongly that it is unfair that an organisation such as 4Children can use funding to promote childminder agencies, while I and my childminding colleagues can not even consider this type of high profile marketing of our services.

I have written a letter to Nursery World, and I hope that they will, through their editorial comment or articles, ensure that parents and prospective childminders are given full information about all the options.

I have also been in contact with my membership organisations to bring the issue to their attention and I have been assured that they are ‘on the case’

Posted January 27, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3 responses to “So – the ‘selling’ of childminder agencies has begun ……..

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  1. Well, that was a surprise! An agency in my town and nobody knows about it. No consultation, no hints, no rumors, I await to see if we, the childminders, are going to be told about it.

  2. Pingback: You could be forgiven for thinking that being an independent Ofsted registered childminder is no longer an option | Penny's Place Childminding

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