/ ELC / Professional Childminding

Protect Professional Childminding

We Need You!

Funded hours of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) is not new. Children and parents have been enjoying this for many years first for their four-year olds and then expanded to include three-year
olds. As a community-based service, this largely meant childminders providing a wraparound service to ensure the children in their care were able to access their funded hours. The more recent expansion included in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act has brought about significant changes in the ELC landscape. Funded hours increased to 600 hours per year, eligibility increased to include eligible two-year olds and local authorities were encouraged to increase flexibility and choice – including commissioning places with quality ELC providers including childminders.

In November 2015, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Childminders play a vital role in children’s development, which helps to reduce social inequality and close the attainment gap. They will be central to our ambitions for a massive expansion of early learning and childcare in the years to come.”

The ELC expansion planned for 2020 aims to increase funded hours to 1140 hours per year and for “Funding to Follow the Child” so that parents can choose their ELC place, so long as the provider meets the National Standard. The original and still the main aim of the ELC expansion plan is to make Scotland the best place to grow up and to achieve a transformational change in the way that ELC is delivered. The primary focus is on improving outcomes for children and to concentrate on eligible two-year olds who are thought will be the main beneficiaries of this change. It was never anticipated that the expansion of ELC would be at the expense of professional childminding services or that parents would be denied childminding as an option for their funded ELC.

Currently tens of thousands of parents choose a childminding service for their children and it is vitally important that this continues in the future. 2020 is not far away yet substantial progress needs to be made if First Minister’s expectation of childminders being central to the expansion is to be realised. 

SCMA continues to do everything possible to raise the plight of childminding service in Scotland and this includes a national campaign.

To support this campaign we recently published an update detailing our journey so far towards 2020 and the expansion of funded ELC. 

Key messages in the campaign include:

  • SCMA champions childminders who can offer a blended approach to childcare. It is not unusual for children to attend and be registered with more than one service. For example a child may already attend a local authority nursery for their funded 600 hours of ELC and/or a childminder for additional childcare.
  • Parental choice and flexibility are vitally important to ensuring the best start in life for children. Many of our case studies show that parents prefer to have more choice about how they access their funded hours than is possible within local authority services, private nurseries or voluntary playgroups.
  • A childminding service is the ideal setting for children to experience their funded hours. Evidence from the recent GUS report ‘tacking inequality in early years’ showed: ‘GUS has found that children who attended providers with a high ‘care and support’ grade as assessed by the Care Inspectorate were more likely to show improvement in vocabulary skills by age five, irrespective of their social background and other pre-school characteristics.’ Social and emotional development is an area childminding services excel in and tend to be highly graded by the Care Inspectorate.
  • The quality of ELC delivered by childminders exceeds other daycare services, including nurseries. 45% of ELC services provided by childminders are of the highest standard in terms of quality (very good or excellent for all quality themes). 92% of childminding services are rated as 'good or better' across all quality themes from the Care Inspectorate.
  • Childminders need to support SCMA to take action - help us be your voice.

How can I help protect professional childminding? There are a number of things you can do to help protect professional childminding:

  1. Find out if your local authority contracts with childminders to deliver funded Early Learning and Childcare. If not, how to they plan to meet the needs of families when entitlement expands to 1140 hours in 2020? Write to your local councillors and MSP to ask this question. We’ve created a handy template letter to help you do this (available to download from the Membership Dashboard).
  2. Make sure parents in your area are aware of the change to ELC and the potential negative effect this could have on Scotland’s childminding workforce. Download the parent leaflet from the Membership Dashboard.  
  3. Talk to other childminders in your area. Are they aware of the local authorities plans and the potential negative impact on their service if they cannot deliver funded ELC in future? SCMA can come and meet with you to talk about the way forward for childminding.
  4. Keep SCMA up-to-date with what’s happening in your area. It’s very useful for us to have this information when negotiating with the local authority. You can contact us by calling our Helpline on 01786 449063 (Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm) or email information@childminding.org.
  5. SIGN OUR PLEDGE. Show your support to ‘Save our Services: #SOSchildminding’ by signing our Pledge and sharing it far and wide.