Decline in the number of Registered Childminders   8 comments

It has taken me a week to get round to writing a blog about this.

This is because the day the report was released was a very difficult day for me – as it was the day that I resigned as a Registered Childminder after a total of 32 years involved with childminding, most of which I was a hands on full time childminder.

I first registered in 1983 / 4 – I am not sure which but I know I took on my first child in 1984  and remained a childminder until 2004. So 20 years in total for my first registration (although my records state I registered in 1985 due to a house move and all records from my previous address getting ‘lost’).

From 2003 – 2007 I worked part time for NCMA (now PACEY) under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Worcestershire Local Authority. From 2004 – 2007 I worked part time directly for Worcestershire Early Years team , and from 2007 – 2010 I worked full time for Worcestershire early years as the SLA with NCMA was not renewed.

Then in 2010 I re registered as a childminder and continued to be a registered childminder until end March 2016 when I de-registered.

Which brings us back to the beginning of this blog and the release of the latest figures by Ofsted.

I do of course have my own reasons for de-registering which are outlined in this blog

Blog about why resigning

However I am just one person and others will have different reasons for leaving – but it has to be asked why so many are leaving.

I admit that what follows is just my thoughts and I have no research or data – just evidence from discussion in person and on social media with many different people – but nowhere even near the the number of people who have resigned in the past few years – which according to Ofsted is around 10,000 since 2012.

De registration because inspection is due                                                                                        In my opinion there are two separate parts to this

a) Some childminders have actually not been active for a couple of years, but did not de-register because they wanted to keep their options open while they ‘tested out’ if other employment would work for them. However as expected inspection date grew nearer they decided that should make the decision to de-registered.

b) Some childminders have openly stated that they were just ‘seeing the last child to school’ and had no intention of staying registered and having another inspection. So as soon as the ‘last child’ went to school they de-registered.

Retirement                                                                                                                                                       There are a lot of long standing childminders who have made a successful career as registered childminders – many of whom have also provided places for their grandchildren. However many are now near or past ‘retirement age’ and so have actually resigned so they can retire – often this has coincided with their youngest grandchild going to school.

Personally I think there are still a lot of ‘mature’ childminders who are now considering their retirement date.

Of course this is part of a natural cycle – the only question is if enough new childminders register to balance the numbers of childminders.

Paperwork Fears                                                                                                                                         I have used the word ‘fear’ on purpose because there is a lot of misleading and indeed sometime incorrect information about the paperwork that childminders need to do. This leads to fear based on assumptions rather than fact. It just takes one person to say ‘Ofsted asked for this’ or ‘Ofsted liked that’ and people think it is required.

Actually although Ofsted do require certain facts recorded, they do not insist on certain methods – in fact for childminders there is very little that has to be recorded in writing.

It must be remembered that some people thrive on having detailed systems and would not be able to cope without their systems – but this does not mean everyone has to have detailed systems.

Short term Childminders                                                                                                                There always have been childminders who register to provide an income while their own child / children are under five because they do not want to place their child in childcare. This continues to be the case and when birth rates are high there will be high numbers of parents taking this option and then de-registering once their child goes to nursery at 3 or school as a rising five.

De-motivated Childminders                                                                                                                    It can be hard to continue to motivate yourself if you do not get the grade you feel you deserve, or parents put in malicious complaints, or you can’t fill all your places. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, things just do not go well. Sometimes the direction of travel through government polices are a step too far and people are not prepared to ‘tick the boxes’ any more, and therefore become demotivated because of that.

Career Progression                                                                                                                                    Many childminders have achieved high levels of qualifications such as degrees, masters, and EYP status. It is only natural that some childminders will then use these qualifications to continue their career development, maybe going on to be nursery managers, to be early years teachers, or to move into training and consultation.

Ill Health                                                                                                                                              Childminding is a physically demanding career with knee, hip and back damage being quite common. When this is added to other life changing or limiting conditions, it is not really surprising that as many childminders still work alone, that they have to resign as being a registered childminder means doing everything yourself.

Needs Of Own Family                                                                                                                                Sometimes birth children find it hard to live in a house where there are always young children – and all the resources that are needed for childminding – in the family home. Having  space and peace for studying can mean that some childminders have to consider the needs of their birth children first.

Changes to Rules and Tax credits For some childminders the changes to tax credits, the rules about not being able to claim funded hours for own children or grandchildren, will have an impact on if their business is sustainable or not – however the impact on numbers of registered childminders for these reasons will not yet be showing in the Ofsted statistics.

I am sure I have not mentioned all the reasons, but just looking at the list above it is easy to see why we have high numbers of childminders de registering – personally I think that retirement and / or ill health are major factors.

However, it is important to also consider the positive aspects – in the last few months the reduction in number of childminders has been less, and the number of places provided – although still down on previous years has increased. This maybe due to some childminders being able to offer extra places as own children at school, or due to taking on assistants. Without a doubt registered childminding is changing with changes in law such as being able to work from other non domestic premises, being able to work in partnership with other settings.

Childminding has been a way of life for me over many years, and it has been a very good career for me that has fitted around my family commitments, provided a good income when averaged out over the years, and led to me gaining a number of qualifications including adult teaching, assessor and finally my degree. It has also led to my passion that has led to my volunteering and campaigning.

And I have made a lot of friends, and connected with a lot of colleagues.

Which brings me right back (again) to the beginning of this blog and why it has taken me a week to get round to writing it.

Yes – I had cold feet; I was wondering if I was doing the right thing by resigning: I was finding it hard to get rid of my resources; I was not sure if things would work out in the future; I felt I was losing my identity …..

In a nutshell, the report about the decline in childminder numbers brought all my fears to the surface, and I struggled with them.

But now a week on, my resignation official – I am able to not only write this blog but to move on.



8 responses to “Decline in the number of Registered Childminders

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  1. Good luck with your retirement Penny.Brilliant work you did for all will be reflected in the children forever.Xx

  2. Congratulations on your well deserved retirement Penny. Enjoy every moment

    A nicely written blog (as always).

    I believe there may be another reason that can be added into the mix – the vulnerability of sole worker. We (and our families) are wide open to malicious complaints and serious false allegations. Lone workers such as childminders are becoming more and more aware (rightly so) through experience or knowledge of just how exposed and vulnerable they are.

  3. I for one will miss you Penny. I don’t doubt that despite your retirement children will never be far away because they are in your heart. I hope you continue to be a voice for Childminding and Childcare everywhere because you seem to always bravely say what we are thinking. I have no doubt you have changed many lives for the better and will continue to do so despite leaving Childminding. I wish well and success which will happen because of your many talents. Keep blogging because we value you and your opinion. Happy Retirement xxx

  4. I’m so sorry you’re leaving Penny you will be a great loss. Thank you for your support with fostering and childminding and I wish you every happiness with your future plans xx

  5. Well said Penny. You mention the paperwork angle but the problem is nobody has told the inspectors this. They all insist that the paperwork has to be done to their specific preference without realising that it is just that, ‘their preference’. My mother has been a childminder for 20 yrs and has just thrown in the towel after the last inspection. In her previous one she was downgraded to ‘requires improvement’ for doing her paperwork/childs progress visually with pictures and comments and was told it was unacceptable and has to be written only. She checked with Pacey, the framework and Ofsted, was proven that her method was fine but didn’t get her ‘grade’ changed. She has just had another inspection and the inspector told her off and marked her down as the same paperwork should be visual with comments only, written method is too ‘unacceptable’ as parents can’t digest it. Oh and she was brought up for having a broken smoke alarm in 2002 !!!! which wasn’t even true and has never shown up before (and was a different house). We can only conclude that it’s deliberate as the govt wants childminders gone.

    Thanks for all your hard work. We have found your blog really informative.

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