Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Kay Britton (CF 68)

I would like to add my comments to the consultation on the Children and Families Bill.

1 I have been childminding for over 15 years and currently care for 12 children between the ages of 18 months and 7 years of age. I belong to my local authority childminding network and am an accredited provider of the Early Years Free Entitlement. At my last Ofsted inspection my provision was graded ‘outstanding’. I am fully committed to continued professional development and have held a level 3 qualification since 2003. I am currently part of the last cohort undertaking the Early Years Professional Status (graduate practitioner pathway).

2. The area of the Children and Families Bill about which I have most concern is the introduction of childminding agencies.

3. Agencies for childminders

3.1 As I have said, I have been childminding for over 15 years and, in that time, I have worked hard to build up my business and my reputation in the local area. At the moment, my success is down to me and me alone. I am greatly concerned at the prospect of handing over control of my destiny to an agency who, from what I have heard, could be a school or nursery who know nothing at all about childminding.

3.2 The proposal that childminders can choose not to join an agency will, I believe, be confusing for parents and will lead to a two-tier system.

3.3 It is not clear whether there will be one agency in each area or whether, as is now the case with nanny agencies, anyone will be able to set one up. If the latter is the case, surely this will make it harder for parents not easier – how will they know which agency to go to and who will provide impartial advice to them?

3.3 I believe that the suggestion that introducing agencies will bring down costs for parents is flawed.

3.4 At the end of the day, I believe that many very experienced childminders will walk away from the profession and that this will lead to fewer childcare places often being provided by new childminders with less experience and expertise.

3.5 If childminders are to lose their individual inspections and gradings I believe that standards will fall because there will be no incentive for individual childminders to strive for excellence if they are to be graded along with the rest of their agency.

4.4 We are very lucky in my area in that we have a very supportive local authority Early Years and Childcare team who provide us with lots of training opportunities and a thought-provoking quality improvement award which encourages us to reflect on and improve our practice. They also provide information on local childminding vacancies to parents. I cannot believe that the government would consider changing a system which works so well.

I very much hope that you will take my views into account when considering these proposals which I do not think will benefit childminders, parents or the children.

April 2013

Prepared 19th April 2013