NCMA, the childminders’ professional association, has revealed the interim findings of its survey of over 2,700 childminders on the day it meets Sarah Teather, Minister for Children, to discuss its concerns over Government proposals to change childminding regulation and inspection. The survey reveals that over 70% of the childminders who responded, believe the proposals would have a detrimental effect on the quality and safety of care offered to children.
NCMA, which represents two out of every three childminders in England, conducted its survey as part of its campaign to persuade Government to retain the current system whereby Ofsted registers and inspects every childminder individually.
“Our survey reveals that 85% of respondents believe that being regulated and inspected by Ofsted helps them to reassure parents that they are professionals delivering a good quality service”, says Catherine Farrell, Joint Chief Executive of NCMA. “Over 80% said they valued their inclusion in the Ofsted system because it demonstrates to parents how they keep children safe and provide quality learning and developmental experiences.
“We share childminders’ concerns that government proposals to move to an agency model similar to that in Holland, would have a detrimental effect on parental confidence, on childminding professionalism and so on their business sustainability.”
NCMA believes that many of the benefits Government states will be delivered by such a change will not materialise. Farrell explains: “The current Ofsted system is not costly or burdensome to childminders so there will be no cost-savings to pass on to parents. The new proposed model is likely to save Ofsted money but cost government more. Furthermore, regulation has not singlehandedly led to a drop in childminder numbers and recruiting more childminders will not necessarily reduce costs for parents.
“It’s particularly galling to read politicians suggesting numbers have almost halved when they are comparing out of date pre-Ofsted data with current data. NCMA wants government to widen its focus from just one aspect of childcare regulation to work with the sector to explore all the ways in which, in these times of austerity, children and families can still benefit from affordable but high quality care and early learning,” concludes Farrell.