Childminder agencies have gotten off to a very slow start. First launched in 2013, there are currently only 8 registered with Ofsted. Many people had assumed that this idea was left on the back burner after a less than stellar amount of activity.
However, it seems the Department for Education has rekindled its interest in them once more and has provided funding to 4Children to guide and support them through the registration process and to continue this support afterwards.
Head of early years at 4Children, Sue Robb, has said ‘The DfE has had other priorities, such as the delivery of the 30 funded hours, so there has been little activity on childminder agencies.’
Continuing on, Ms Robb has said that she thinks that childminders seem to be warming more to the idea of agencies now.
The current 8 agencies that exist are all run by different organisations and Ms Robb has suggested that the potential for these agencies is a lot bigger than previously thought: ‘Local authorities, private companies, private companies working with local authorities, social enterprises,’ she says. ‘Some of the big childcare providers are looking into it, as well as academies, schools and childminders themselves.’
The Rutland Early Years Agency has been set up and run by 3 separate childminders with support from the local authority. The childminders who started the agency were part of the council’s practitioner programme, where experienced practitioners help their peers. They receive free support from the council but can pay a small fee to receive extra support and training if needed.