Editor's View - Report raises hackles

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The Government and several of the think tanks that sympathise with its policies are making a lot of noise about the cost of childcare and about how it must be made more affordable to parents.


Very laudable - but the general assumptions that are made, and some of the suggestions for how to improve matters give cause for concern.

We are yet to hear from the Childcare Commission, now under different stewardship after the ministerial reshuffle, but a report last week from the Centre for Social Justice has certainly raised hackles in the early years sector.

The report appears ill-informed about childminding and the way it operates in particular.

It repeats the mantra that ratios could be relaxed and carers could look after more children. This would inevitably lead to a diminishment of quality, and the sector has repeatedly said that it does not want ratios to be relaxed.

And the idea that lone, unemployed parents should all be encouraged to become childminders is raised once more. There are so many things wrong with this suggestion.

In some areas of the country, childminders already have low occupancy and adding an army of single parents to the mix is not going to help. Perhaps the aim is that these recruits will charge very low rates. What will this do for the quality of provision except perhaps force some very good childminders out of business. And this idea that any parent can make a good early years practitioner is depressing indeed.

These think tanks should all read Penelope Leach and Colwyn Trevarthen's article, arguing that early childhood is 'qualitatively, even morally, different from all other concerns', where cost is concerned.

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