Debbie Watling offers a service believed to be unique in Cambridgeshire, working as a 50:50 childminder, splitting her time between childminding at home and running a crèche five afternoons a week at the local child and family centre.
She has worked as a childminder since 2010, and in April received a Good grade overall from Ofsted, with Outstanding for personal development, behaviour and welfare.
After a fire recently destroyed her new playroom, Debbie did not close but stayed open, borrowing resources so that she did not let her children and families down.
Since last year, Debbie has run the family learning and inclusion crèches at Huntingdon Nursery School and Child and Family Centre, in addition to her own childminding provision in the mornings and after school.
She was approached by her childminding support and development officer, who had met with the nursery school head and the community lead at the centre, to see if she would be interested in taking on the crèches, which provide care and support to vulnerable families.
The new partnership has meant that the centre is able to continue to offer crèche provision for children while parents attend adult learning courses. According to the nursery school head teacher, this is the only centre in Cambridgeshire to offer the service.
As a result of Debbie joining the team, the centre has been able to redeploy other members of staff to develop outreach support through stay-and-play sessions in the community, reaching families who have not previously used it.
The family learning crèche enables parents referred by social care to attend parenting courses for a term, with Debbie supporting the learning and development of the children during this time, and supporting new families the following term.
She has cared for many children with English as an additional language, often for parents who have recently arrived in the country. At the crèche, the role involves settling in children who may have never been left with anyone outside their family before, and who may not speak English. Debbie employs two assistants who work with children with EAL. She also works with families with complex and challenging circumstances.
She leads on the inclusion crèche, which has been set up to allow young, vulnerable parents respite to organise their lives. Debbie has set up a system that allows her to summarise each child's learning in the short time that she looks after them, with the records following the child into nursery, ensuring knowledge of the child and family is shared with other professionals.
One parent whose son attends the inclusion crèche praised Debbie's ‘consistent care and fantastic attitude’, saying, ‘It is a blessing to see him thriving and so happy.’
Judges praised her for being ‘an inspiring model to what childminders can achieve beyond their own setting’ and for showing ‘commitment to caring for vulnerable families’.
“Debbie has made good use of the 50:50 rule and demonstrates a new way of childminding that may encourage others to consider childminding as a chosen career
Julie & Jo's Childcare, Cambridge
Open to settings where childminders are working with other childminders and/or assistants, including those registered as ‘childcare on domestic premises’