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Members against agencies

The publication of More Affordable Childcare earlier this week underlined the government's commitment to introduce childminding agencies – a proposal that PACEY is wholeheartedly against. We know that our members don't want to give up their hard-earned individual inspections or surrender their self-employed status. Recent research by IPPR, funded by PACEY, showed that only seven per cent of childminders support the idea of moving away from individual Ofsted inspections towards collective agency assessment, preferring regular inspections for each.

And to show their concern, members are writing to their MPs and making their voice heard in their local press.

Sue Asquith is one of PACEY’s associate tutors – a practicing childminder and childcare expert. She’s written to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg; Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, Education Secretary, Michael Gove; her own MP; other members of the shadow cabinet and the Department for Education outlining her concerns over proposals for childminding agencies. She’s asked us to share her letter to help other members write their own.

In an extract of the letter, Sue says,

“I appeal to you to help put a stop to these plans. I am concerned about their impact on childminders and even more concerned about the impact on the children. We all know that children's futures and outcomes are largely based upon the care and learning they undertake in their earliest years. Childminders are ideally placed in a home from home environment caring for children in small ratios. Childminders are the only registered care that can care for children from birth to teenagers. We can provide continuity for the children and their parents/carers.  We save parents the time and stress of having to travel to various childcare providers for their children.  Statistics show that most of us are doing a Good or Outstanding job…  

I am passionate that every child deserves the very best childcare but I can see no benefits at all for the childminders, parents or the children from the proposals in More Great Childcare. Please put a stop to these proposals and let the Local Authorities continue with their training and support for the childcare sector.” 

In Bracknell, Berkshire, a group of registered childminders have made public their concerns, featuring in the local paper. One said, “We offer a really flexible service at an affordable price, which will be lost if we sign up to agencies. There’s a continuity of care for families which could also be lost. This plan just won’t work for us, I’d like to see the entire [Children and Families] Bill scrapped.” Read more about their views.

No benefit for parents

One consistent theme in all member comments is that the proposed savings to parents just won’t materialise – the numbers don’t add up.

85.7 per cent of the childminders questioned in IPPR’s study thought the introduction of agencies would increase their business costs because of fees, meaning costs to parents would have to go up.

This is something that PACEY’s Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, has been highlighting as well. “We remain concerned that reforms, including the introduction of childminder agencies will damage the quality of childcare and fail to deliver savings for parents.”

We’ve produced briefings for both members and local authorities on childminding agencies and why we believe they will fail to deliver either savings or improvements in quality. Please download and read the briefings, and write to your MP asking them to stand up for your concerns in government.

If you'd like support in writing to your MP, email info@pacey.org.uk.

Other sample letters

Other childminders are also sharing the letters they've sent to their MPs and encouraging others to use them as the basis for their own letters. The more letters from childminders and parents against agencies that are received by decision makers, the more effective and persuasive the message will be.