Loss of Childminding Support Service in Dumfries and Galloway | A Response from SCMA

Loss of Childminding Support Service in Dumfries and Galloway | A Response from SCMA
Highly valued support service for childminders in Dumfries and Galloway has been withdrawn due to local authority budget cuts.

Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) has had a long-standing relationship with Dumfries and Galloway Council, where we were funded and contracted to provide a highly valued support service to childminders across the region, whilst facilitating training and learning events to benefit the wellbeing and development of the children and families using the services.

Unfortunately, due to significant reductions in their budget, Dumfries and Galloway Council has withdrawn funding and is unable continue to support our delivery of this service.

Commenting on the loss of the childminding service in Dumfries and Galloway, Graeme McAlister, Chief Executive of Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), said: “We were deeply disappointed by the loss of our Childminding Service in Dumfries and Galloway and represented our concern to the Council when advised of this decision. 

“This was a long-standing service, which SCMA had been contracted by the Dumfries and Galloway Council to deliver for many years. As such, we are aware that this service was valued - not only by childminders - but also by many children, families and communities throughout the area.

“As a national organisation, supporting childminding throughout Scotland, we are also acutely aware of the harsh reality of the economic climate in which many public services - at both a national and local level - are operating. Sadly, this can result in tough decisions for local authorities when significant reductions to their budgets are required. 

“The timing of this loss of service is also very unfortunate. It comes at a time when councils around Scotland are being required to develop their capacity for supporting the local delivery of the Scottish Government’s Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) policy. This will provide 1140 hours of funded (free) hours of childcare entitlement from August 2020 for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds. 

“All local authorities will be required to provide this entitlement and to ensure, in line with the National Standard, that funding follows the child and is provider neutral. Dumfries and Galloway Council and SCMA have a long tradition of supporting childminding throughout the region, where there can be additional challenges of providing equitable access to childcare over remote and rural areas. As such, we are concerned that the discontinuation of this service could worsen inequalities. 

“SCMA is currently working constructively with local authorities throughout Scotland to ensure that childminding is included as an option within their ELC expansion plans for children and families who make an informed choice to use this form of quality childcare. We are also currently repeating our audit of local authority approval of childminding for the delivery of funded hours and will be publishing our updated report on the picture across Scotland in late summer and sharing this with a range of stakeholders.

“We would be very happy to work constructively with Dumfries and Galloway Council in developing an ELC-specific childminding service in the region going forward, if future funding and local priorities permit, and we have already advised the Council of our intent to explore this.

“In the meantime, I would like to reassure our childminder members in Dumfries and Galloway that we will continue to support you and your childminding services. We have a dedicated helpline supported by an experienced team of staff who will be able to help you with your information and support needs. SCMA's Helpline (01786 449063) is available Monday to Friday between 10am - 4pm. 

“As the only national organisation in Scotland, dedicated to supporting childminding, we understand the many current challenges which childminders face, and we will continue to support you throughout these challenges and aim towards an improved outcome.

“Finally, I will be happy to come down to the Dumfries and Galloway area to discuss childminding services in the area with local members, childminders and interested parties.”