Ofsted data shows that the number of childminders leaving the profession annually in England has been declining for several years, and that the number of people registering to become a childminder has declined significantly.
PACEY said that while there are many reasons why people are leaving childminding – lack of professional status, low incomes, too much paperwork – there was very little evidence on trends in childminder recruitment.
Over the summer, and as the first stage of the inquiry, PACEY will be working with researchers at the University of Plymouth to run a national survey targeting childminders past, present and future.
PACEY said that if the decline in England continues at the current rate- a total loss of two-thirds of registered childminders since 2012 - there could be no childminders left by 2034, drastically reducing the choice available to families.
Chief executive Liz Bayram said, ‘We believe that not only do we need up-to-date evidence on why people are leaving the sector, but we need to better understand why even fewer people are choosing to register as a childminder.
‘Low-income and too much paperwork plays its part, but anecdotally we hear from new childminders that the issue is more complex than this. For example, there are more flexible working opportunities available than there were 10 to 15 years ago; and most local authorities no longer have the capacity to recruit more childminders locally.
‘So, we are launching our inquiry to both understand what has changed and to explore what more could be done to make childminding a more attractive career to both join and remain in.’
Alongside the survey PACEY will be holding online discussions via social media as well as focus groups with a wide range of people including: childminders (prospective, new, existing, and those who have recently left); local authorities; parents and carers; employers; self-employed entrepreneurs; and policymakers.
Jane Comeau, PACEY chair, said, ‘We think childminding needs to be reinvented for the 21st Century and we want to hear your ideas and views on what’s great about it and what needs to change to attract future childminders.
‘Is the joy of working with children the biggest attraction? Or is it the independence that comes with running your own business? Does the name “childminder” put you off? If you could change anything about childminding what would it be?
‘PACEY’s board will be reviewing the charity’s long-term plans late this year and this inquiry will feed directly into the decisions we make. So, if you care about childminding, let us hear your views.’
- The survey is available here