Fears parents will be driven to use unregulated childcare
Monday, June 29, 2020
Anticipated mass nursery and childminder closures could result in desperate parents putting their children at risk by unwittingly resorting to unregulated childcare, warns the Regulation Matters (RM) Campaign.
RM, which is calling for the regulation of all nanny agencies operating in the UK, is concerned that ‘panicked parents and a shortage of registered childcare provides a wide open door for unsuitable people to gain access to children and young people’. Many parents may not be aware that nannies and nanny agencies are unregulated.
Childcare providers are struggling to stay operational because of significant financial losses as a result of both Government underfunding and reduced demand for places during the coronavirus pandemic, The Forgotten Sector report from the Early Years Alliance revealed last week.
The report said that parents will face ‘childcare chaos’ and have problems accessing childcare if urgent action is not taken by the Government. As the country moves out of lockdown, RM cautions that another risk to families will be a safeguarding one as parents look for alternative childcare options.
RM chair Tricia Pritchard questioned whether parents know how to ‘safely navigate’ an unregulated sector and avoid the associated safeguarding risks. The campaign is concerned about the safety of children left in unregulated childcare with no minimum standards, registration requirements and little accountability.
‘We fear that parents used to using childminders and nurseries will wrongfully assume that all childcare is registered and regulated in much the same way,’ she said. ‘It’s unlikely to occur to them that even if they use a nanny agency they may not have met the nanny (certainly won’t have done so throughout lockdown), won’t have checked references, won’t have seen original qualification documents, and won’t have ensured the candidate has a DBS or even the right to work in the UK.’
Nannies may join a voluntary Ofsted childcare register, however RM believes this could mislead parents into thinking that the nanny is then subject to the same regulation and inspection as a registered childminder, which is not the case.
The campaign has raised the issue with children and families minister Vicky Ford and is waiting for a response.