More than 100 different organisations applied to be part of the pilot, the Department said.
The Government sees childminder agencies as a means of cutting costs and bureaucracy for individual childminders by matching them up with parents and as the key to expanding childminder numbers.
Agencies will offer training and business advice to childminders.
They are also intended to increase choice for parents by making it easier for them to find high-quality childcare and holiday or sickness cover.
Education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has stressed that it is voluntary for childminders to join agencies and for parents to use them.
Childminder agencies will be registered and inspected by Ofsted.
The pilots include First Years Childcare in York, a new childcare organisation set up to improve the quality and support for childminders and nannies, including a new website, aimed at becoming a new one-stop-shop for childminders in the local area. The owner previously ran a nursery and nanny agency.
Telford and Wrekin Council in the West Midlands has recruited a dedicated childminder team and will also provide a brokerage service between childminders and parents.
Yvette Oliver-Mighten, owner of @homechildcare, a private childcare organisation, said she wanted to take part in the scheme to offer more choice and flexibility for parents and childminders.
‘We understand the unique place childminders hold in the childcare sector and the issues they face as practitioners providing professional childcare in their own homes,’ she said.
‘The decision to pilot support services to childminders was a natural progression of our childcare and training services in many ways. It was through the delivery of our childminder training programmes that we realised there was an emerging gap in support.’
The 20 pilot organisations are:
Family Info Link
St Bede’s Academy
Salford Council/Rochdale Council/Wigan Council
Broadclyst Community Primary School
South Gloucestershire Council
First Year Childcare
- For more information about childminder agencies, including case studies on some of the trials, visit the Foundation Years website.