Proposed Changes for UK Childcare – For Better or Worse?

This week a BBC article Ministers’ Plan Childcare Change   outlined the UK governments proposals for reducing the cost of childcare.

Alongside making some provision tax deductible, other proposals include

  • increasing the number of children a childminder can care for.
  •  improving their qualification level in a bid to maintain quality.

It seems however, that there are a number of flaws in their thinking.

‘Ms Truss has pushed for reform to regulations imposed on child minders to
increase the number of child minding places. If more places can be provided for
parents, then the Conservatives believe prices might start to come down.’

Yet in a later paragraph:

‘Downing Street sources said Liberal Democrat and Conservative figures alike were
now convinced that looser ratios mean nurseries can take more children on which
could see staff paid more, and so greater quality staff attracted.’

I’m not sure that increased wages for early years workers and a lower cost to parents can be achieved without a significant investment of government funds.

It seems to me that the government believe that by increasing the number of children childminders can care for, they will attract more people to the profession, as they will be able to earn more.  However they are also proposing changes to the qualifications needed to become a childminder in a bid to maintain quality.

In my experience of working with childminders, this is what I think will happen. A proportion of very good childminders will be scared off by the thought of having to achieve yet another qualification, losing many of our oldest and most experienced childminders. Those that stay may take on extra children but once they are better qualified and have factored in the added expense of having more children (e.g. equipment, larger car) and the additional challenges of caring for a large number of children under 5, they are likely to quite rightly increase rather than decrease their hourly rate. Some childminders will decide that their quality depends on taking fewer children, therefore not achieving the desired increase in childcare places.  Some will be attracted to the industry I’m sure but how attractive really is looking after 5 children under the age of 5 on your own?

In my opinion these proposals reduce parental choice.  I like many women chose to send my children, in their first years, to a childminder.  I chose this for my children because I felt a home environment where my children could experience many of the things they did with mummy, would be the easiest transition.  I also chose a childminder because they could play with a few other children but have the individual, loving attention they needed from one adult.  My children love their childminder in the way they would an aunt or a close friend of the family. I’m worried that this would be lost once the number of children is raised significantly above the size of the average family.

My mother was a childminder when I was growing up. The children she cared for (never more than 2 at a time) became an extension to our family, they called her ‘aunty’.  Childminders these days take on far more children in a bid to fulfil demand for places and to earn a decent wage, if the ratio is increased again will there be any  ‘aunties’ left? Please UK government don’t take away parental choice.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

Sign the petition to avoid changes to childcare ratios.

3 thoughts on “Proposed Changes for UK Childcare – For Better or Worse?”

  1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response to this issue. I have been campaigning against the proposed increase in ratio’s since it was first suggested by Ms.Truss.

    I also can not understand how increasing childminder income and reducing childminding fees will actually work.

    I have several blog posts on my blog about the whole issue, if anyone is interested in reading them.

    I do have perhaps a better idea than some about the reality of caring for 5 under fives at once – on your own – because I have been doing this September under a continuity of care ‘exception’. It is hard work – and long term it has an impact on the childminder. I have decided that although short term exceptions are OK and manageable – to care for 5 under fives all the time is not good for the children or the childminder.

    I even invited Ms. Truss to visit my setting to see for herself – she was unable to attend – but a member of DfE staff did spend a whole day with me and reported back to Ms. Truss (also have a blog about this).

    The question of qualifications is both good and bad – good because I do believe that childminders should have a level three quantification if they are to be able to effectively deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage – but bad because as you say – there are some very good natural, instinctive childminders for whom having to undertake a qualification would be a step too far.

    I have suggested that maybe the government should introduce another type of home based childcare – we already have nannies who do not have to be registered or follow EYFS, and some parents prefer this (although not everyone can afford to have a nanny) – so why can’t there be a ‘middle ground’ option? A person who is registered (so has an initial safety check of house and ‘interview’ of check understanding of behaviour management etc) first aid trained,, CRB, insured – BUT not required to follow EYFS. This group of people would not be able to provide the Free Entitlement or funding designed to cater for those that do. Then you would have registered childminders same as we do now – who are required o follow EYFS and are treated the same as any other registered early years setting.

    This would give parents more choice and provide a career for those you term ‘aunties’


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