The Government’s recommendation to develop ‘Childminder Agencies’ will allow childminders to deliver better care, according to Yvette Oliver-Mighten, owner of childcare provider @Home Childcare, which already delivers childcare under an agency model.
The proposals, which were announced yesterday as part of the Childcare Reforms, recommend the introduction of an agency model which would change the way childminders and possibly home childcare providers such as nannies are currently registered.
While many have focused on the changes to ratios and qualification requirements also announced, Yvette believes the introduction of an agency model would do as much if not more to improve the standards and regulation within the childcare sector.
She said: “Changes to the way childcarers are currently registered shouldn’t be perceived as deregulation or ‘dumbing down’.
“Surely what matters is that the regulation of quality is maintained and continuously improved.
The Coalition Government’s short-sighted response to the childcare crisis in the UK could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back...
“Ofsted inspectors call on childminders just once every three years. Introducing the agency model will ensure childminders who would like further support receive it and lead to more frequent quality assurance agency visits and higher standards as a result.”
@Home Childcare specialises in providing part-time, flexible childcare to fit with parents’ work or study hours. Childcare is provided in the family’s own home and home childcarers and Ofsted registered so parents can use tax credits and childcare vouchers to help with funding.
Yvette added: “It would also relieve childminders of much of the burden of paperwork and bureaucracy, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best - caring for children.
“This in turn could help to promote the development of more home-based childcare and consequently drive up the professionalism and visibility of home childcarers, especially nannies, who are often referred to as the invisible children’s workforce, thus giving families more choice.”
Home childcarers are trained and employed by @Home Childcare. Since October a pilot based on the same model has been in place for childminders interested in extra support and quality improvement - one of the first childcare providers in the UK to offer this.
CEO of Findababysitter.com, Tom Harrow, said: “I started Findababysitter.com out of sheer frustration when trying to find accessible, affordable childcare.
“Since then, we have supported hundreds of thousands of parents to find a range of childcare solutions that are right for them - without a massive price tag.”
Tom says that it is time the Government starts to address childcare issues seriously.
“When I pick up the newspaper in the morning, and I see headlines such as ‘Mums spend at least 14 weeks of their annual salary on childcare’, and ‘child benefit cut could cost some families £50,000’, I wonder what the government is playing at,” he said.
“They’d only need to spend 10 minutes on our site to see what parents need and want. They want to work, be successful, and become the best role models for their children.
“The Coalition Government’s short-sighted response to the childcare crisis in the UK could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – the complete undoing of a harmonious democracy. They must act smart, and soon.”
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