Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Lucy Evans   (CF 118)

1. I have been a registered childminder since 2002. I hold a 1 st class Ho nours degree in Early Childhood Studies and was graded O utstanding by Ofsted in my last 2 inspections. I am approved to provide funded education for 2 and 3 year olds.

2. My objections relate to Schedule 4 of the Children and Families Bill, which calls for an amendment of the Ch ildcare Act 2006 in order that childminder a gencies can be formed. My main concerns are:-

· I cannot see how childminder agencies will cut the childcare costs of parents. As the agencies will not be government funded then the re will need to be a charge to parents and childminders for the brokering service that they will provide.

· The introduction of agencies will cause a two-tier system of regulation that will confuse parents looking for childcare, as they will have to first understand the options available and then choose between an agency monitored o r an i ndividually inspected childminder.

· Instead of creating agencies the government could increase the current   registration fee to more closely meet the cost of individually inspecting childminders . Local authorities provide a childcare matching service, organise training and provide quality improvement guidance. Again, many minders would be willing to pay for this support rather than see the introduction of agencies.

· It has been suggested that c hildminder agencies will encourage more people to become childminders. However, many childminders are struggling to fill existing places and new minders often regret registering due to a lack of business in their area.

· The MGC report says that childminder agencies will reduce the paperwork that some find burdensome. T he most time-consuming aspect of the paperwork is the completion of observation, planning and assessments needed to meet the requirements of the EYFS. Therefore, unless agency childminders are exempt fr om the EYFS then there will not be a significant reduction in paperwork. However, to isolate childminders from the EYFS would mean we would lose our professional status and the recognition that the care and education we offer is equal to that of other early years providers.

· Childminder agencies are intended to drive up quality standards. However, an agency childminder may only ever be monitored by their agency, so Ofsted cannot be sure that all the childminders registered with an agency are implementing the EYFS to a high standard. The information an agency make available to Ofsted could be fabricated to enhance their grading. This is a real possibility as agencies will not be government funded and therefore rely on their reputation to market their business.

April 2013

Prepared 26th April 2013