Editor’s view - Changes in Mind

Monday, June 25, 2018

Allow childminders to provide funded hours for related children or we risk losing even more of them from the sector

Obviously, the Government has a lot on its mind at the moment, so the problem of childminders in England not being able to provide the funded 15 and 30 hours to children related to them (but not living with them) might seem of little consequence compared with some matters.

However, as our story shows, PACEY’s campaign to change the regulations on this is timely and important.

We all know how quickly the number of registered childminders has fallen over recent years. There are currently 42,300, and PACEY estimates that around 17,000 could be affected by the rules on related children.

The income lost of about £5,000 per year for each funded place is certainly one aspect. But more important for many childminders is that children’s best interests are lost in all this – disruption in having to change early years setting; children with special needs and medical conditions not being with the person best placed to care for them; their parents not being able to access the flexible hours that they need for work and family.

The ban on funded places is illogical, as PACEY chief executive Liz Bayram points out. Childminders can look after related children receiving other forms of support such as Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit. What is more, nurseries and pre-schools can provide funded hours for children related to staff.

Now, Wales has confirmed that its regulations will change from September.

Childminders need to know that they are valued as a professional part of the early years workforce. They do not need arbitrary limits placed on their ability to offer care and earn money.

This simple change should be made as soon as possible. Otherwise, there should be no surprise if the Ofsted figures continue to show that childminders are exiting the sector, putting sufficient supply at greater risk.

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