Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Lichfield Childminding Association (CF 107)

I. We are the Lichfield district childminding association and have been in existence for over twenty five years and we are collectively writing in response to the childminder agencies proposal in the children and families bill due to be heard at the end of April. We have a great many male and female members which we feel reflects the wide range of childminder's in the UK. There are those that work around their own children, those who help out grand children and family members, those who work as couples with the capability to take on more children.

II. Upon first reading the bill, at our regular meeting, we were astonished that the first time childminders were mentioned it came in line that ended "in an area of the sector that has lagged behind". In fact the impression that the document gives is that childminders are substandard, unable to follow the EYFS effectively and unable to run their own business. We feel that is the polar opposite of the truth! Due to being in small groups, individuals are able to receive more attention, their personal needs and development goals are met more readily and their social skills are greater than those who have been attending nurseries in the most formative of early years.

III. The overall numbers of childminders have dropped over the years, yes, but we feel it is those who did not have a professional approach and did not want the extra work and training that came with the EYFS. So, in fact the drop in numbers are only a temporary symptom of building a more professional and high standard of childcarers.

IV. Childminders have chosen to set up their own business, and for decades have been able to operate effectively, even more so with the introduction of the EYFS, and to parents satisfaction. If agencies are brought in, as suggested CM’s are being asked to pay for the privilege of belonging to one, which, when the sector already has a low rate of pay, is going to have a huge detrimental effect on our income.  Causing the need to increase our numbers and there for limiting our capacity to go out into the community doing the things that CM’s are renowned for – taking children shopping, going to the park attending social children’s activities such as visits to the library, singing groups and playgroup sessions. Etc.

V. Our particular county – Staffordshire – has benefited from L.A support and training and there are hardly any satisfactory grades any more. Good and outstanding are the norm, with the latter grade very much on the increase. If agencies are introduced it won’t be long before the only way to access training and support will to be a member of an agency creating a two tier system of childminders, not exactly conforming to the idea of equality.

VI. Vacancy filling; in the proposal, it reads that agencies will allocate parents to CM vacancies. How is this offering parental choice? This is one of the brilliant things about CM’s. A parent can either go on the .gov website or call the family services and get a list of CM’s in their area; they can contact them and see who can help. Then comes the important part of visiting their homes and talking, meeting the little ones. It is this process, where parents can find a CM that they feel comfortable with and just as important a CM can choose families they are confident will fit in with the setting and can build a relationship with.

VII. We would appreciate the government allowing us the choice of how to run our business lives. Involvement at this level is a massive intrusion. LA support and training clearly works. Please don’t take away parental choice and the ability to function autonomously instead of some cog in a wheel that looks pretty flat to us.

April 2013

Prepared 26th April 2013