The newly formed Children’s Activities Association (CAA) is now offering compliance and service accreditation to its membership with the aim of driving up standards in the sector.
Bronze, silver and gold accreditation are now available to members of the CAA, who have a reach of 180,000 children.
The CAA’s founding members are some of the leading providers in the rapidly expanding market of companies running activities aimed at young children. They include: Baby Sensory, Sing and Sign, the Creation Station, Tumble Tots, (pictured right), What’s On 4, Rhythm Time, Tatty Bumpkin, Diddi Dance, Sid Sloane, Enjoy-a-Ball and Water Babies.
They also include childcare insurance specialist Morton Michel and Fundamentally Children.
Members can be anything from one-man-bands to large franchisees and pay fees based on their turnover. There are currently 58 members, but as this includes francisees and licensees, this amounts to nearly 700 providers.
Bronze Accreditation is free for members and focuses on compliance. It ensures:
- appropriate policies around safeguarding and data protection;
- clear accountability for all areas of the organisation;
- security procedures are in place;
- record-keeping of resources for health and safety reasons;
- all appropriate legal and insurance documents.
Silver Accreditation requires completing another module in either Training, Programme, Delivery or Customer Service, while Gold means a provider has completed all five modules and passed an inspection.
The accreditation is provided by independent organisation Fundamentally Children, which runs the Good Toy Guide and is headed up by psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer.
Dr Gummer said, ‘The CAA approached me as they were looking for people for their steering committee and wanted someone with a psychology background. Like the vast majority of people, I hadn’t realised there was no accreditation system for children’s activities providers.
‘The whole process is supportive and about collaboration, helping members to raise their standards. Since I’ve been on board I’ve seen some really breath-taking stuff going on, like a really exciting and very well thought out dance class, and a parent baby sensory group which completely relaxed all the babies and the parents. Just to watch some of the activities is such a pleasure.
‘We’re evaluating each activity based on if it is age appropriate, it’s not about technicality but more about a generic box-ticking accreditation. For example, what we will be looking for with the training is it being done by someone who is properly qualified. It’s not about micro-managing or reviewing.’
Suzanne Borrell, communication director at What’s On 4, an activities website for parents and one of CAA’s founding members, said, ‘We couldn’t believe there was no code of conduct or code of practice. It’s dreadful that people running activities don’t need qualifications either in the children’s activities sector or their specific area. They also don’t need to have insurance, or any health and safety or first aid training. A nursery wouldn’t want to pay all this money for an activity and not have these things.
‘Bringing in activities providers can be great for business but could also potentially be a real pitfall if you get someone who isn’t properly qualified. We’re now saying to nursery providers, you just need to ask that one question, are you a CAA member, to get that peace of mind.’