The latest report published today (11 September) by SCMA on the Current State of Childminding Services in Scotland to Deliver Funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC), shows that a staggering 98% of childminders are still not commissioned to deliver funded ELC. Scotland appears to be losing a vital workforce, alongside the quality services they deliver to children to ensure their best start in life. The implications of this are broader than the pre-school places they provide. Potentially it also affects their places for babies, their large number of out of school care places and the specialist services they provide, like the SCMA Community Childminding Service.
Commenting on the publication of the report, Maggie Simpson, Chief Executive of SCMA said: “It is clear that many local authorities are not yet commissioning the services of their childminders or even offering them as an option to parents. This is concerning as we know they are currently working on their expansion plans for funded ELC.
“For years childminders have been an integral part of the childcare sector. But the landscape of the sector in Scotland is changing. Namely, funded provision of Early Learning and Childcare is changing and judging by the phone calls we are receiving it is now emerging that perhaps an unintended consequence of this is an expected decline in the childminding workforce.
“SCMA is now taking action to try and ensure that childminders remain a viable option for families when funded Early Learning and Childcare increases to 1140 hours for children who are three or four years old, as well as for qualifying two year olds in 2020. Essentially we are campaigning to ensure childminders continue to operate alongside local authority provision, paid by the local authority, whilst their expansion plans are underway. We are doing everything possible to raise awareness that free childcare is changing and that childminding needs to be part of the change process.
“The next phase of our campaign is the publishing of an Open Letter to the Scottish Government which essentially asks that: Professional childminding businesses operating in each local authority area must be given due consideration in ELC expansion plans and in on-going service developments to ensure that parents, who wish to do so, can access a childminding service for part or all of their funded entitlement when Funding Follows the Child is introduced in 2020.
“To allow families and supportive organisations to give voice to this letter and our ELC campaign, SCMA has also launched on online pledge site to Save Our Services: #SOSChildminding. We hope as many people as possible will sign our pledge to recognise childminders as part of the childcare community that ensures the best start in life for children in Scotland.”
Childminding offers a blended approach to childcare with parental choice and flexibility -which is the ideal setting for children to experience their free hours. They are a crucial part of the childcare landscape in Scotland, providing essential childcare services for children and their families, tailored to meet the individual needs of a child. Working from their own homes, childminders give an unrivalled continuity of care, offering unique and flexible approaches to professional childcare whilst looking after small groups of children in a family setting. The hours they work can be far more flexible than those of other childcare providers, often extending to evening and weekends, and may even include overnight stays. This flexibility is especially valuable for parents working part-time or unusual hours. Essentially being cared for by a childminder gives children the opportunity to learn from real-life experiences in a secure, loving, home environment such as: going to the shops; involvement in school pick-ups; family meal times; and visits to the park - all valuable life skills.
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