Registered childminders and nannies are uniquely placed to offer family support, because they develop strong relationships with the parents, often over a number of years. These strong relationships ensure good communication and add value in other ways too. Most parents will rely on their childminder or nanny for advice on how to deal with the usual challenges - teething, settling into a new school - but some also rely on them for support during difficult times such as divorce, ill health or bereavement.
Given the increasing focus of policymakers on supporting parents, I believe there is a great opportunity to value and make more of this informal support.
The NCMA's own experience of working with local authorities shows that, with training and support, registered childminders can play a key role in supporting families. In Bedfordshire, childminders on a Children Come First network provide parenting advice and childcare to teen parents, in partnership with Connexions via the Care to Learn programme.
The new National Academy for Parenting Practitioners and the additional funding the Government has invested in supporting parents are welcome.
This week's National Childminding Week is themed 'Supporting Families'. NCMA members are spreading the word in their local community, with each member asked to contact five parents they have not previously been in touch with. So if someone wearing an 'Ask me about childcare' badge approaches you, please spare them a few minutes - they are almost certainly one of our members!