Childminders ‘reluctantly’ offering 30 hours, finds PACEY survey

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A survey by PACEY reveals the majority of childminders plan to offer the 30 hours, but many are doing so ‘reluctantly’ and ‘under duress’.

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More than 60 per cent of childminders said they would offer the 30 hours

Of the 1,365 childminders that responded to the survey, which was carried out last month, 61 per cent said they planned to offer 30-hour funded places from this month. This compares to 66 per cent who currently deliver 15-hour places or have done in the past.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said they weren’t planning to offer extended entitlement places. The main reasons were a low hourly rate, delayed payments and general ‘hassle’. A small number said there was a lack of eligible children in their setting. More than 10 per cent were still undecided whether to offer the 30 hours or not.

A number of those planning on offering the extended entitlement said they were doing so ‘reluctantly’ and even ‘under duress’. Many commented that they were placing limitations on the number of 30-hour places, for example by only offering them to existing parents, or offering only part of a 30-hour place.

One respondent said, ‘My offer is a reluctant one and I'm doing it only for the sake of saving parents some money…Parents have been forewarned that I may have to stop providing funded places after a couple of terms due to the inevitable non- sustainability of the entire system, despite the Government already proclaiming this as a great success.’

Another commented, ‘If we don't offer funding we could lose business.’

One childminder offering the 30 hours said she would be out of pocket £500 each month for the funded children.

The survey found that childminders with experience of delivering the 15 hours universal entitlement were significantly more likely to say they would offer the 30 hours than childminders who had never delivered a funded place (75 per cent as opposed to 34 per cent).

Childminders who had been asked by parents about a 30-hour place, in full or part, were also much more likely to say they would offer the extended entitlement than those who had not been approached. More than 60 per cent of childminders said they had been asked by parents to deliver a 30-hour place. Of these, 35 per cent had been asked about providing a place in part and 26 per cent a full place.

Providers who said they will be delivering part of a funded 30-hour place, were most likely to be sharing delivery with a pre-school (52 per cent) or school nursery class or nursery school (43 per cent). Just over 14 per cent said they were sharing delivery with a day nursery and 9 per cent with another childminder or childcare on domestic premises.

Susanna Kalitowski, PACEY’s policy and research manager, said, ‘The findings are more positive than we expected. The number planning to offer the 30 hours has jumped from last year when just 35 per cent of childminders who responded to our Building Blocks survey said they were likely to offer the extended entitlement. It’s good to see that more childminders are engaging with the policy and making a decision based upon what is best for their business.

 ‘The 30 hours is very much a case of make or break for the sector, and childminders are doing what they can to make it work.

‘The feeling among most childminders is that they are going to offer the 30 hours to existing children as they don’t want to lose them and want to provide continuity of care.’

She added, ‘Looking at the survey findings, what is concerning is that 40 per cent of childminders weren’t asked about a place by parents. This shows there is still a lack of awareness among parents that they can take up the funded hours with childminders, as well as nurseries. ‘

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