As you will already know, recent media attention has been focused on the Department of Education’s report, ‘More Great Childcare: Raising Quality & Giving Parents More Choice’.

The main topic of discussion has been the changes to ratios, which has not proved favorable among childcare professionals. But what about about childminder agencies?!

According to the Department of Education, childminder agencies are going to be ‘one-stop-shops’, that will help childminders with training, business support, advice and finding suitable parents.

Advantages for childminders include:

1. Help with matching childminders and parents together

2. Removing some of the burdens of registration for childminders

3. A support network and a more secure way of working

4. Help with handling day to day issues and emergencies

Advantages for parents include:

1. Finding it easier to secure a suitable place for their child

2. Support on a range of issues and help if any problems emerge with their childminder

3. Reassurance of knowing that the agency is registered with and inspected by Ofsted

4. Knowing that their childminder is suitably qualified

5. Help handling day to day issues and emergencies

The NCMA, are unsupportive of the agency model, because so many of it’s members have raised significant concerns about the impact it would have on parental confidence in childminding, their status as professionals and so their business sustainability!

The NMMA, commented:

‘Agencies also do not recognise the reasons why most childminders stay in the profession for so long. They enjoy the freedom and benefits that being self-employed bring. Childminders can decide what services they offer, the hours they work and which families they provide childcare to. So, whilst for some there may be an attraction to having the agency undertake certain paperwork, provide training and support, the critical issue will be what is expected of the childminder in return? How much autonomy will they be required to give up? How much will they be charged for this service? Especially when most of it they can do for themselves’.

‘So, In light of our members’ strong opposition to the concept of an agency approach to their regulation and inspection and the concerns we have received from parents, NCMA remains unsupportive of the government’s plan for agency models and will not be involved in their development, if they are legislated’.

In response to the concerns that agencies could drive up costs for staff and jeopardise professional autonomy, Simona McKenzie has established ‘The Independent Childminder’s Focus Group‘!

Simona McKenzie said:

‘The aim of the focus group is to attract as many childminders as possible so that we are absolutely crystal clear as to the meaning of remaining independent, costs related to registration and individual inspections. We will also seek clarification on the implications of registering with an agency. Numerous concerns have been raised about the quality and potentially a two-tier service’.

According to Yvette Oliver-Mighten from HomeChildcare, ‘The Government’s recommendation to develop Childminder Agencies, will allow childminders to deliver better care’.

We are really interested in your views, on the introduction of childminder agencies! Are you for or against them? Share your comments here with us and participate in our Childminder Agencies Poll.

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