Programme for Scotland’s Childminding Future

Programme for Scotland’s Childminding Future
The Scottish Government has committed funding for a three-year national childminder retention and recruitment programme. ‘The Programme for Scotland’s Childminding Future’ (PSCF) aims to grow the workforce by 1000 and bring about positive change for childminding. The retention measures proposed include pilot activity in three key areas: Quality and Learning, Mentoring, and Time Off the Floor - and could prove transformative for the childminding workforce. 

SCMA is proud to be at the forefront of securing and delivering this Scottish Government commitment to childminding and we’re delighted that the impact of our advocacy has been recognised, with the potential to make a significant difference to childminding in Scotland.    


SCMA will be working collaboratively with Scottish Government and other key stakeholders to test innovative childminder retention measures to support the existing workforce which span three key areas of focus; Quality and Learning, Mentoring – and Time Off the Floor – a unique concept for childminding which will be the first pilot of its kind trialled in Scotland. 

These measures will be tested in manageable numbers in targeted areas with approximately 350 childminders participating in the retention pilots over the course of the three-year Programme, so that we can ensure high-quality measurement, evaluation and modification.  

It’s the intention that these pilots will help inform possible future wider extension in more areas and we believe this could be transformative for the wider childminding workforce in the long term.  

Quality and Learning
One area of support within our retention work will begin soon for all childminders. From September this year we’ll build on our recently developed ‘Reducing the Burdens’ work by providing funded access to all childminders to SCMA’s three Quality in Practice courses. 

We’ll also offer access to all childminders to our Self-Evaluation Toolkit, to support with understanding Self-Evaluation in relation to national frameworks and guidance and streamlining evidence requirements. This has already been tested in a select number of areas – this roll out to all childminders demonstrates how small trials to see what works best can benefit the wider workforce in time.  

Over time, other Quality and Learning trials to support retention will focus on providing further professional learning to support quality improvement, as well as possible childminder study groups and drop-in sessions to provide support in working towards qualifications. 

Time Off the Floor
We’ll trial support for childminders with funded time away from their day-to-day business, recognising the need for non-contact time.  Focusing on manageable numbers and with a phased timescale, we’ll trial aspects such as:

  • reduced practice time
  • funded time back
  • SCMA practitioner cover
All of which are intended to free up time for continuous professional development, complete paperwork or spend time on self-evaluation.

Our Mentoring retention work proposes pairing new and experienced childminders who can be a ‘mentor’ - offering guidance, support, and sharing best practice to help new childminders thrive. Our current workforce has a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience which can be passed on to new childminders.  

These concepts propose radical solutions to help address some of the issues which have been causing childminders to leave the workforce. They’ll need time to be tested, evaluated, modified and adapted to see which combinations are likely to help support and retain childminders.  


SCMA has developed a new model of childminder recruitment which has been successfully piloted in remote and rural and urban local authority areas. Over 70 new childminding businesses have been established as a result of our efforts, with a further 40-50 coming through behind. This model is now being scaled-up nationally and will make the tailored approach to attracting new childminders available widely across the country, where local authorities choose to participate. Our approach is based on a demographically targeted marketing campaign and supported model of childminder recruitment, which helps new childminders to establish their businesses. 

The recruitment programme offers a minimum £750 start-up grant for childminders who start a new business, along with a package of fully funded support and training.  Half of Scotland’s local authorities are participating in the targeted recruitment campaign with the potential for more to come on board in phases throughout the three-year Programme if they wish to.  Those confirmed include: Renfrewshire, West Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Falkirk, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City,  Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, South Lanarkshire, Argyll and Bute, Fife, Inverclyde, Clackmannanshire and Midlothian.   

Graeme McAlister, SCMA Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to be at the forefront of delivering the Programme for Scotland’s Childminding Future – our team has worked hard on behalf of childminders, families and communities around Scotland to secure this important funding commitment from the Scottish Government. It recognises the vital role that childminding businesses play in providing high-quality, flexible childcare for families and also in contributing to child poverty reduction by enabling parents to work, seek work or stay in work.    

“The Scottish Government has recognised the acute challenges experienced within the childminding workforce and the need to take substantive action to ensure that it has a strong future. This programme will enable us to improve retention within the childminding workforce by increasing practical support for existing childminders and also undertaking innovative pilots which could prove transformational if extended nationally in future. 

“In parallel, it enables us to scale-up nationally our successful childminder recruitment model to provide an opportunity for all local authorities to benefit from our delivery of this.  Half of Scotland’s local authorities have already signed up to participate during the first year and we look forward to working with more over the course of the next three years."

The Minister for Children, Young People and The Promise, Natalie Don, said: “Childminders provide vital support to children and parents and are an important part of Scotland’s thriving Early Learning and Childcare sector.  The support provided by the pilot projects to date has made a real difference for the families they help. This investment will not only help us grow the childminding workforce by 1000, it will also support existing childminders, which is essential as we look to increase the workforce.”

SCMA will be emailing all childminders today with an update on this important programme of work with an additional short video update from Janine Ryan, SCMA’s Deputy Chief Executive, and Director of Childminding Services.   

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