New childminding trade association set up
A new trade association for childminders in England and Wales launches later this month to represent the interests of independent childminders.
The Independent Childminders Social Enterprise (ICM-SE) will offer membership, training and insurance to childminders from 21 March.
Co-founder and director Stuart Turner told Nursery World that the new trade association had been set up in response to a call from childminders concerned about changes in the sector and that he had been approached to set up the independent body.
The association's other founder and co-director is childminder Bea Heath.
The ICM-SE will lobby Government on behalf of independent childminders and help to ensure their businesses remain sustainable, as well as offering support, mentoring, information and advice in partnership with other stakeholders.
Mr Turner said, ‘Childminders want their independence and their want their voice to be heard and listened to,' he said.
He has previously worked for the National Childminding Association as director of professional standards.
The NCMA is about to re-launch as the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, broadening its membership to include nursery workers.
ICM-SE's launch follows Government proposals to introduce childminder agencies, which have been met by strong resistance from many childminders concerned that their independence will be lost.
Pilots of childminder agencies will take place this year and Ofsted are developing an inspection framework for agencies.
The ICM-SE is the only national childminder association that is working with the Department for Education on developing the framework for childminder agencies.
Mr Turner said, ‘We want to propose an alternative to the agency model.’
He said that the ICM-SE would be representing the views of those childminders who are concerned that the introduction of agencies threatens childminders’ independence and self-employed status.
‘DfE are working with members of the sector to develop the childminder agency framework. The process does not happen overnight and if or when agencies are implemented we will ensure we are there for childminders providing our own childminder "community" model.’
He added, ‘We are reaching out to childminders to join ICM-SE and share their best practice in developing the future for quality home based childcare in England and Wales. Through our unique model we will together, support and train independent childminding businesses as the trade association ‘community’, to share our ethos of putting the child at the centre of our activities.’
Childminders joining the ICM-SE will be able to spread their membership fee through monthly payments and will also be able to pay for their insurance on a monthly basis.
They will also be able to access training and other services through links with other sector organisations.
ICM-SE is the only trade association for childminders in England and Wales that is registered with the CBI’s trade association forum. Childminders in Scotland have the SCMA and in Northern Ireland the equivalent trade body is NICMA.