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Childminding Agencies... the Good the bad and the truth..

Change is a scary thing, even if you know something isn’t right, making a change to an alternative doesn’t always feel safe. The fear of the unknown, of making a financial error, of losing control - these things prevent us from adapting to new situations or requirements. The change in legislation allowing childcare agencies to become a vehicle for registering, training and inspecting childminders is no different.

On initial review it’s easy to read the sweeping ‘parents and childminders say no’ journalism that accompanied the Government’s release of intention. There’s plenty of scathing and sometimes unpleasant press releases out there. Very little is put forward in the way of viable alternatives - the stay as we are even though it doesn’t work ethos remains strong.

But dig deeper and you begin to comprehend the mammoth task OFSTED, DfE and Local Authorities had, and how Childcare Agencies could positively impact on individual childminders and childcare choices for parents. The scaremongering of forced sign up, is just that. The assumption of no professional knowledge from childcare agencies but purely money making off of the childminders is a running theme.

Charged with recruiting, training and inspecting, it’s hard to see what is actually so bad about childcare agencies. Childminding can be a lonely business, you are in charge of your own business, training, marketing and so on. Having spent your day focusing on providing exceptional early years child care, you then have to consider how to source relevant (and convenient) training to keep up to date and progress, secure effective insurance, comply with HMRC and accounting paperwork, up date mandatory policies, the list goes on.

Into the breach steps an organisation, run by lead practitioners in early years childcare with a solution that ensures you have training and support laid on. Policies available, financial and administrative assistance and, someone who ensures you are inspecting far more consistently than OFSTED have ever been able to do. The downside? A small fee to access the training, support and guidance.

Essentially as Local Authority budgets shrink their ability to support and facilitate childminders is restricted and no amount of hand wringing or complaints changes these facts. Financially OFSTED cannot inspect childminders with the frequency it should, truthfully this leaves parents unsure of the standards of care available. So does an childcare agency that rigorously inspects, by regulation, within set timescales then seem so bad.

With focus moving to blended childcare, and an increase in government funding to parents for childcare, surely any vehicle to recruit, training and inspect those working in home based settings should be welcomed. Any provider whose remit is to expand professional quality childcare that’s is available to families has to be applauded or in the very least given a fair critique of comparison.

The future then, is with Childcare Agencies. Time will be needed to see the positive impact these start ups will have, but ultimately change is coming and it could be good for you!

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