Body for childminder agencies launches

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A new organisation for childminder agencies has launched in England.

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The OFCMA (Organisation for Childminder Agencies) has been set up by eight of the 11 Ofsted-registered childminder agencies to enable them to work together more closely.

The move comes in response to the withdrawal of support from the Department for Education through Action for Children.

All members of the OFCMA must follow quality standards and a code of practice, drawn up by the eight childminder agencies.

They must offer a minimum of two visits per year to their registered childminders in their second year of being at the agency, instead of the required one visit.

OFCMA’s role will also be to promote the benefits of registering with an agency. It says until now, Ofsted registered childminder agencies have not benefited from unified support and representation in the sector.

On top of this, the body plans on carrying out research into aspects of care, recreation and education of children for member agencies to support the childminders on their books.

A spokesperson for OFCMA said, ‘The lack of information about the role of agencies and exactly how they can support and improve quality and professionalism of childminders has not been publicised. This, together with biased myths, has drowned out the many benefits of registering with an agency. Despite this lack of integration, childminder agencies have seen increased demand and have been recruiting new childminders over the past four years.

‘In recent months, more childminders have chosen to register with an agency because of the backlog waiting to be registered with Ofsted. It generally takes six to eight weeks to become registered with an agency. There is also the added value of agencies offering far more support than Ofsted.’

Nursery World reported in January that prospective childminders were facing long delays registering with Ofsted, putting many off joining the profession.

The latest Ofsted statistics show a fall of 1,000 childminders in three months.

The eight registered childminder agencies that have set up the OFCMA and are members are:

• Childminding Matters

• @Home Childcare

• Dandelions Childminder Agency

• Leap Ahead, Achieving for Children

• Northumberland Church of England Academy

• Rutland Early Years Agency

• Suffolk Childcare Agency

The website is here

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