In a bid to raise the number of registered childminders up from the current 518 to 600 within the next year, Wiltshire Council’s early years services is offering free information sessions for prospective childminders, along with an attractive package of support and training.
Angela Brennan, childcare coordinator for Wiltshire Council, told Nursery World, ‘Not only have we seen a drop in childminders in recent years, but we also have a number of developments taking place locally. We have an army base in Wiltshire, where troops are moving back from Germany so there will be an increase in the military population. And there are a number of housing developments taking place.
‘Obviously, this is on top of the 30 hours childcare so we want to ensure that we have sufficient childcare and we can give parents a diverse choice.’
So far, the response to the campaign, which involves advertising free information sessions on Twitter, Facebook and in libraries and children’s centres has been ‘extremely positive’, Angela Brennan said.
She said, ‘I have been hugely impressed with the high calibre of people that are attending the sessions and are interested in becoming a childminder. It blew me away. Already, we’ve had people with high-level early years and childcare qualifications and secondary school teachers who have started their childminding practice course.’
The council aims to make childminding an attractive career option for local people by creating a ‘one-stop-shop for childminders’.
Ms Brennan said, ‘If people choose to do their Introduction to Childminding course with us, they will have a named officer for pre-registration support and have the same officer support them when they are registered with Ofsted. Our quality improvement scheme, a PACEY scheme, is a paid package of support that we are offering childminders if they wish to join, which gives them the opportunity to access affordable training, support and other resources.’
Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY said that it is clear ‘[we need to do] all we can’ to attract new childminders and encourage those already working in the profession to stay and this will be a ‘key focus for PACEY’ over the coming months.
She said, ‘Childminders provide a unique, flexible home based service to children and their families and they will be crucial to delivery of the 30 hour offer, which is drawing ever closer. Government figures state that 390,000 children will be eligible for 30 hours and that 45,000 new places will be needed.
‘There is an ongoing need to support for childminders both to ensure that childminders already in the sector remain in business and to feel confident about their future, as well as encouraging new entrants into the profession.
'With the number of registered childminders continuing to decline, PACEY is committed to bucking this trend. It has been encouraging to see the growth of good and outstanding settings over the last few years, but this is under threat with the erosion of local authority support - the promised workforce development strategy is becoming ever more urgent to ensure that childminders have the support they need for training and development.’
- The Family and Childcare Trust report on childcare costs, published earlier this year, has figures on the number of childminders per 1,000 children under five in each area.