Truss pulls out of childminder agencies meeting

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The sector’s meeting with Elizabeth Truss to discuss the pilot of childminder agencies has been rescheduled for next month.

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The UKCMA is facilitating the roundtable meeting

The roundtable meeting, which was due to take place tomorrow, 13 February, at the House of Commons between childminding organisations, childminders and the education and childcare minister, will now take place in March.

The rescheduling of the meeting comes after the Department for Education contacted the UKCMA, which is facilitating the discussion, at the beginning of the week to say the meeting would need to be postponed because of Ms Truss’ busy week ahead of a ministerial visit aboard.

According to the UKCMA, the minister had already changed the date of the meeting from 12 February.

Following this, a number of childminders contacted the childcare minister via her Facebook and Twitter accounts to express their dissatisfaction at the cancellation of the meeting.

The Department for Education went on to suggest to the UKCMA that they, other early years organisations and childminders meet with a senior representative on 13 February instead.

The UKCMA told Nursery World that all attendees from the main childminding organisations did not want to attend the meeting without Elizabeth Truss and many had already changed their plans after the meeting was first cancelled.

Worcestershire childminder Penny Webb of Penny’s Place, who was due to attend the meeting, said, ‘I am extremely angry that Elizabeth Truss first changed the date and then cancelled the very important meeting between all the main childminding organisations. This would have been an opportunity to discuss with the minister why she believes childminder agencies are needed and how they will achieve the aims set out in More Great Childcare and More Affordable Childcare.

‘Ms Truss, who requested the meeting, has offered to rearrange the discussion for March, but to find a day that everyone can make will be difficult to achieve.’

Writing on her blog, Ms Webb said that she had asked parents to make alternative arrangements for their children on 12 February, resulting in a loss of income.

When the meeting was rearranged to the following day, she took the decision to close her setting, which meant she would lose around £200 and inconvenience six parents. 

She added, ‘Despite the loss of income, I was happy to agree to meet with you as this would have been an opportunity to gain an understanding about why childminder agencies are needed. Despite letters, articles and blogs not only from myself, but from many others, our questions have not been answered.

‘However, you then cancelled the meeting, which meant that my personal loss of income was for nothing. My parents booked a day off work or arranged for grandparents to care for their child, making it hard if not impossible to undo those arrangements.’

Ms Webb says on her blog that she intended to take with her to the meeting the 200 letters she has from childminders against the introduction of agencies.

Last week, Nursery World reported that the childcare minister had written to all childminders in England to tell them about Government plans, including the introduction of childminder agencies, designed to make working in the profession easier.

Since yesterday, more than 70 angry childminders have posted comments on Elizabeth Truss' Facebook page protesting against the introduction of childminder agencies.

A date has yet to be confirmed for the rescheduled meeting.