Vital £1m Financial Support for Childminding to Support Business Sustainability and Recovery (3.15pm)

Vital £1m Financial Support for Childminding to Support Business Sustainability and Recovery (3.15pm)

Earlier today the Scottish Government announced £1million of financial support for childminding businesses in Scotland most affected by COVID-19. In making this announcement John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister, confirmed this money will be used to support the sustainability of childminding businesses (with grants of up to £1000 available). He also confirmed that further detail on the funding is still to be developed and that the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) will be involved in these discussions.

In parallel, the Scottish Government has today also published a new action plan for childminding entitled Our Commitment to Childminding in Scotland – as advocated for by SCMA – which recognises the critical challenges childminding faces, and includes a series of short, medium and long-term actions to support childminding through recovery.

The Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, issued a letter to all childminders today, via the Care Inspectorate Provider Update email. 

Graeme McAlister, Chief Executive, SCMA, said: 

“COVID-19 has had a very significant adverse effect on childminding in Scotland. As such, we very much welcome today’s announcement of £1m of financial support from the Scottish Government for childminding to support business sustainability. This is something that we have been advocating for on behalf of childminders throughout Scotland over a sustained period of months.  While the level of funding will not cover all childminders, we believe this new funding will provide vital support to those childminding businesses most in need, and who are on the edge of viability, to support their future sustainability. This will also help to provide much-needed stability in the short-term and from which to launch a series of medium- and long-term actions to support the recovery of the childminding workforce. Childcare will play a vital role in supporting local and national economic recovery from COVID-19 by enabling parents to work, and childminding provides a unique, flexible and high-quality form of childcare which increases parental choice. It is clear in committing this funding that the Scottish Government has listened to the many childminders around Scotland who have contacted Ministers and MSPs about this issue. SCMA will continue to contribute to discussions with Scottish Government regarding the detail of this financial support”.

Commenting on the accompanying new Action Plan for Childminding, for which this additional financial support will contribute to the basis for recovery, Graeme McAlister said:

“It is very welcome that the Scottish Government has recognised the precarious position that childminding is in and that a dedicated action plan is required to address the distinct challenges we face. SCMA advocated the need for the Action Plan and secured the commitment to its development.  There is much in the Action Plan which is positive, we support, have influenced and which will be beneficial over the longer-term. The most important building block is the additional financial support in the short term to provide greater stability. In addition, there is greater recognition of the need to maintain blended placements, important commitments to research which  will inform future policy actions to strengthen the childminding workforce and to promote the benefits of childminding to parents, support for learning, and actions to make it easier for childminders to get involved in delivering funded hours and to enable more childminders to support vulnerable families. We are also pleased that the Scottish Government has committed to updating this plan with new actions as we progress through recovery.

“During the expansion of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) policy, and the entitlement to 1140 funded/free hours of childcare in Scotland, inequalities have emerged between childminders and other providers. The number of childminders who have been included in delivering funded hours remains very low and more needs to be done to accelerate the number of childminders included in delivering funded hours. In parallel, the childminding workforce has declined by 18.7% during expansion and there has been a reduction in new childminders coming into the workforce. We need to reverse these trends to make childminding more sustainable. We need to increase the value attached to childminding, to change the outdated negative perceptions which can still exist and to enable many more families to access this unique form of childcare and family support. The Action Plan on Childminding provides an important step which, when linked with our own new upcoming three-year strategy, should strengthen childminding and increase parental choice”. 

Our ‘at a glance’ guide to the Action Plan that SCMA has been working to influence on behalf of childminders and an overview of what this means for childminding can be accessed here.

Larger settings currently caring for 12 or more children (which have been required to reduce their service or key workers and vulnerable children) can access separate temporary financial support while they are operating on a reduced basis. Further details about how this scheme will operate are also in development and awaited.