Use Them Or Lose Them – The Case Of The Overlooked Childminder

Childcare costs frequently hit the headlines in the media, with childminders and other childcare providers portrayed as making healthy profits at the expense of hard-working families.

The reality is somewhat different.

Instead we have a sector of dedicated, trained professionals who offer a high quality service to families, yet are among the lowest paid in the UK.

Indeed according to Government figures released just last week, the average total income of a childminder in the UK is just £10,100. Not quite an eye-watering salary.

The results of PACEY’s second annual Building Blocks survey of almost 2,000 early years practitioners across England paints a picture of a workforce under strain. A sector poised to respond to the significant challenge of the doubling of the free education entitlement for working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds in September.

According to Government figures, only 1% of 3- and 4-year-olds who are taking up a free place, do so with a childminder. Whilst the Building Blocks research shows that the main reason why childminders do not currently offer funded places is the low funding rate, it also shows that nearly half (49%) of childminders said that they didn’t offer funded places because no parent had asked for one.

It seems that despite being registered with Ofsted and delivering a curriculum just like nurseries and pre-schools, many parents don’t know they can access funded childcare places from a childminder and many local authorities are failing to embrace childminding as part of their local childcare offer.

Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) suggest that an additional 90,000 places will be needed for 3- and 4-year-olds, when the 30 hours policy is rolled out in September. And last week, it was reported that two-thirds of local authorities do not believe there will be enough childcare in their area for eligible families.

We need to encourage parents to choose childminding as an option for their funded hours, but also to encourage more childminders to offer funded…

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