Action Plan on Childminding – at a glance

Action Plan on Childminding – at a glance
Action Plan on Childminding – at a glance: what SCMA has been working to influence on behalf of childminders and what this means for childminding.

After securing the commitment from the Scottish Government to develop a new Action Plan on Childminding, SCMA accepted the responsibility to contribute to and inform its development and has been doing so since last September.

Central to our advice has been that what childminding needs more than anything at this time is financial support in the short term to provide stability and to support business viability and sustainability. From this position of greater stability, medium and longer-term actions can then be launched to support recovery within childminding.

In parallel to contributing to the development of the Action Plan we have continued to build and press the case for further financial support for childminding and made a further submission to the Scottish Government regarding this in December 2020.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY: the £1m of additional funding will provide vital support for the childminding businesses most affected by COVID-19, helping to support their financial viability through and beyond the pandemic and to support local and economic recovery:

46% of childminding settings have reported that they did not believe their business would remain viable beyond 3-6 months without financial support.
79% of childminders have reported a very significant/significant reduction in the number of children in their settings (with 30% experiencing a very significant reduction).
18% of childminding settings (over 800) were still recorded as being inactive last month.
childminding has experienced a double blow through a reduction in demand for pre-school childcare and a reduction in demand for out of school care due to the official requirement for parents to work from home where possible. 
childminders from around Scotland report a continuing and significant reduction in business due to the restrictions on blended care earlier in the year and despite the official guidance supporting blended placements.
58% of childminders have reported a 20% or more increase in monthly operating costs during COVID-19 (with one in five childminders also reporting one-off additional operating costs of £500 or more).
the financial differentials between funded and non-funded providers (the majority of childminders) have also widened during COVID-19.

BLENDED CARE: while the situation could change if further restrictions are required, the Action Plan positively reinforces the Scottish Government’s recognition of the importance of blended care to childminding and the families you support.

Currently, even within Level 4 (the top tier of COVID-19 restrictions), blended placements are allowed to continue, with appropriate risk assessments, and the Action Plan recognises that “any move back to earlier guidance should it be necessary would be challenging. Given the importance of flexible childcare, which blended models can provide to parents and families, we will wherever possible maintain the ability for parents to make that choice where they need to”.

The plan also re-states that if further restrictions are required this would involve not only considering the public health advice, but also considering the economic impact on providers, as SCMA has been advocating since June when we also secured a timescale for easing restrictions on blended care.

SCMA has been working continuously throughout COVID-19 to support the reintroduction and continuation of blended care where it is safe to do so, recognising that 60% of childminders were expected to be involved in delivering blended placements, in response to parental demand, by the end of last year. Had the restrictions on blended placements which were in place during the spring and early summer continued only 19% of childminders believed their business would still be financially viable in 12 months’ time.  

STRENGHTENING THE CHILDMINDING WORKFORCE: the Scottish Government has renewed its commitment to fund independent research to be overseen by the Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and SCMA to understand the reasons behind the changing trends within the childminding workforce. This commitment was originally made after this was recommended by SCMA in our ELC Audit 2019, but this work had to be deferred due to the need to prioritise the national response to COVID.

This project will also be informed by our large-scale ‘#TellSCMA 2020: Childminding and You’ survey. Independent research of this nature will be useful in informing future policy actions, and potentially funding, aimed at addressing these trends and increasing recruitment and retention within childminding. 

ELC - UNDERSTANDING AND PROMOTING THE QUALITY WITHIN CHILDMINDING: the Scottish Government has also renewed its commitment to shortly undertaking independent research into the quality within childminding and exploring the outcomes for children and families. These findings will strengthen the evidence base on the unique benefits of childminding and be used to raise wider awareness with parents about the benefits of childminding within ELC expansion and as an informed choice for receipt of funded hours.  


establish a new national Working Group comprised of the Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, SCMA and COSLA to explore the barriers to childminders delivering ELC, and in the interim, if any flexibilities are required to assist childminders to attain the benchmark qualification.  This is useful as SCMA seeks to address issues such as non-inclusion of childminders in ELC delivery by some local authorities in Scotland.
review local authority tendering exercises with SCMA and others, with a view to streamlining the process to make it easier for childminders to apply to deliver funded hours.
work alongside SCMA to deliver a series of events for local authorities and childminders to increase and support childminder inclusion in ELC.
ensure that local authorities promote all providers equitably to parents (with a strengthened emphasis on childminding).


provide a strong emphasis on childminding within the new Out of School Framework, recognising that 50% of children in childminding settings are of school age and demonstrating a commitment to strengthening further the existing significant contribution that childminders make in the delivery of out of school care.
explore the potential to further develop SCMA’s Wellbeing and Community Childminding services to support vulnerable families. Our Wellbeing Service was piloted during the national lockdown last summer when we arranged for childminders to take referrals for vulnerable families unable to receive physical support from other organisations due to COVID restrictions. SCMA Community Childminders have also provided much-needed support to over 900 vulnerable families in Scotland in the last three years alone; during COVID we have received more referrals than we can support, the level of need for support is expected to increase further and we believe this service has the potential to be developed nationally.
involve childminders in piloting support for families requiring access to childcare as they seek employment (further details will be announced in the near future).

These services provide much-needed support to families and also create opportunities for childminders in different parts of the country to diversify and develop their childminding businesses.    

Read the action plan: Our Commitment to Childminding in Scotland in full.