Securing a future role for childminders

Securing a future role for childminders

One of the main outcomes of the Scottish Government Blueprint Consultation on Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) is that ‘childminders will have a key role in delivering the expanded funded entitlement’. This was part of the announcement made today by Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years.

“SCMA welcomes the findings of the Blueprint Consultation on Early Learning and Childcare and an acknowledgement that childminders have a key role in the future delivery of funded entitlement.” said Maggie Simpson, Chief Executive of SCMA.   

“However, there is much to be done to make this a reality. Up until now childminders have played a relatively limited role in providing funded entitlement despite being keen to be active partners.  Of the 5,954 professional childminding services in Scotland only 118 are delivering funded ELC which is completely unacceptable.  The expansion provides an opportunity for childminders to have an enhanced role in the delivery of funded ELC but to achieve this, local authorities need to show willing and embrace this opportunity. 

“Together we can provide increased choice and flexibility for parents and achieve a good blend of home, external, individual and group, provision.  Evidence shows that our youngest children’s learning is improved in their high quality childminding settings.

“The preferred option that SCMA is campaigning for is that childminders and Community Childminders have a key role in delivering the expanded entitlement, especially for younger children. This could be through, for example, increased use of ‘blended models’ which involve children spending time in both a nursery setting and with a childminder.”

A recurring theme in the consultation was that childminders should have more opportunities to access training using both formal and informal learning mechanisms - from mandatory courses, to sharing best practice across networks.

Commenting on this theme Maggie added: “Over 80% of childminders in Scotland are members of SCMA and we provide a range of learning opportunities.  94% of childminders were rated grade 4 or above in the ELC Statistics 2015 report, published by the Care Inspectorate in 2016 and this clearly reflects the high quality of childminding services in Scotland.

“We acknowledge that the skills base of the sector is often overlooked or not understood by parents, carers and other professionals working in the sector.  The Minister indicated that access to a qualification could be established to provide reassurance, in respect of quality of provision, for parents who are facing choices over the best option for childcare.  This will take time and the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place, including flexible training options and financial support arrangements and accreditation of prior learning, before this is implemented.  SCMA will work with the Scottish Government, the Care Inspectorate, the Scottish Social Services Council and other key delivery partners to make this happen.”

Another key outcome from the Blueprint Consultation – also welcomed by SCMA - is that funding will follow a child.

“SCMA agree with the Minister that every child and family is different, so work with them needs to respond to those individual circumstances,” added Maggie.  “As such the introduction of funding following the child will make a significant difference to the future of childminding.  This means that although local authorities will continue to play a vital role in the delivery of ELC, now the choice firmly lies with parents in their choice of provider which includes opting for a childminder. 

“In addition, this changes the landscape for ELC in Scotland, enabling parents to choose their provision which is best placed to deliver quality outcomes for their children whilst supporting the national ambition to close the attainment gap.  It will ensure the best start in life for every child whilst protecting professional childminding in Scotland.”