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About Marvellous Minders

Southend Marvellous Minders Community Childminding

Marvellous Minders is a community childminding scheme coordinated by PACEY's childminding team in partnership with Southend Borough Council.  

Specialist childminders are recruited from the members of the Southend network quality assurance scheme and are regularly monitored to ensure they offer a high level of professionalism and skills. Placements are paid for through Social Care funding, through Direct Payment funds, or by the parents themselves. All the Marvellous Minders childminders are able to access specific training focused on the needs of disabled, disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families.

When setting up the scheme the challenge was to sell the new initiative to the social workers who were very wary of using childminders as they were not sure of childminders’ skills and knowledge and that a home based service was the best environment for children with specialist needs. The coordinator took portfolios of some MMs to the team meeting to show the type of provision they were offering for the children plus their training and skills. The coordinator also advised the savings that the LA could make using this type of placement.

The coordinator received a referral from a social worker to place a child who had been exposed to domestic violence. The coordinator found a suitable childminder who could offer him stability in a home-based environment, which was very successful and the care became ongoing. When the parent moved boroughs and the current LA could no longer fund the placement, the coordinator visited the new LA and negotiated keeping the same placement for continuity for the child. This resulted in him having stability and the coordinator was able to attend all necessary reviews to represent the childminder and ensure she was fully integrated within the relevant meetings to share strategies and boundaries. This placement had very positive outcomes for the child who started eating healthier foods, his learning and development skills and behaviour greatly improved and he was willing to try new activities which was also noted at his special school.

The success of this placement resulted in more referrals being received by the coordinator from social care and parents directly. The LA is currently in discussions with Fostering to help offer short term placements when foster carers need a break. Emergency care placements are also being received with only a few hours notice or a couple of days, the Marvellous Minders scheme has successfully been able to broker these placements ensuring the child received quality care in the local area where they may have had to be placed out of borough otherwise causing more anxiety and stress to a disabled child.

The scheme has become really successful with more than 20 placements being made and many are long standing placements. The social worker team are now using this service due to the success not only in the outcomes for children but in the over £26,000 currently being saved by using childminders instead of residential care.

The outcomes for children have been very positive. Children have been able to access a home environment in which they are fully integrated and treated as one of the family. Positive differences to children’s learning and development have been achieved through

  • The continuity of one carer to ensure routines and strategies
  • Being able to stay in their local communities to attend activities and local school events
  • Less anxiety and stress for the child when leaving parents without much notice
  • The flexibility that childminding brings for parents some placements have started at 5am through to 7pm the following day
  • Childminders have been able to pick up and drop off from schools and home to save parents that may not have access to transport.

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