A registered childminder makes the ideal option for free childcare hours

Childminding is probably the least understood service in the childcare sector, often thought of as little more than complementary to other more recognised services. However, with over 5,954 childminders in Scotland caring for over 34,220 children, and offering a distinctive and flexible service, childminding is without doubt an essential early years’ service which needs protected.

Childminders

Childminders are professional childcare workers providing an essential childcare service for children and their families. Working from their homes, childminders offer a unique, flexible approach – looking after small groups of children in a family setting often extending to evenings and weekends giving parents and carers greater flexibility.

The Care Inspectorate’s Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Statistics 2015 Report rates 94% of childminders as good, very good or excellent. They deliver quality services, developing a child’s mind and building confidence within a family childcare experience. Being cared for by a childminder gives children the chance to learn from real-life experiences. Everyday activities, like trips to the shops, visits to the park, enjoying family meal times or taking part in the school pick-up, all teach children valuable life lessons.

Early Learning and Childcare expansion

The Scottish Government is committed to increasing ELC entitlement to 1140 hours a year by 2020 to encourage high quality, flexible, childcare that’s accessible and affordable for all families. It wants to ensure every child benefits from a quality pre-school experience. Childminding can meet the needs of children of a wide range of ages. it is particularly appropriate for those two year olds who need a more intimate environment than a nursery setting is able to provide, precisely the group that the Scottish Government is struggling to attract into childcare. Given the particular skills, setting and flexibility, childminders offer, they should be central to the Government’s ambition.

However, too few local authorities are offering families the option of childminding for their funded ELC hours. Currently only 15 out of 32 local authorities are working with childminders as partner providers to deliver ELC, and only 582 childminders who are members of SCMA are included in local commissioning strategies to deliver funded places. This is limiting choice, accessibility and flexibility of services for parents.

Scottish Childminding Association campaign

SCMA is campaigning to ensure that childminding remains a viable option for the future delivery of ELC. Professional childminding services may cease to exist unless childminders are included as partner providers to deliver funded ELC, paid for by councils, and their professional services actively promoted to parents.

SCMA is campaigning to ensure that:

  1. Parents, particularly of eligible two year olds, are offered childminding as an option for their funded ELC hours.
  2. Parents using a childminding service have the right to continue with that service for their ELC funded hours with that cost funded by the local authority.
  3. A blended ELC model is developed, with part of the day with the childminder and part with nursery.
  4. Professional childminding businesses operating in each local authority area are protected and, where necessary, services are expanded to meet demand.

For more about the campaign, see (www.childminding.org/elc) A parent leaflet promoting the benefits of using a childminder is also available. For further information, contact SCMA on 01786 445377 or email marketing@childminding.org.