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Proposed reforms may damage quality, says PACEY

The Department for Education today published More Affordable Childcare, the follow on to January's More Great Childcare.

This document "sets out the government’s plans to help working parents access the childcare they need when they need it, in particular by:

  • helping schools to offer affordable after school and holiday care, either alone or working with private and voluntary providers
  • enabling nurseries to expand by reducing red tape and removing planning restrictions
  • ensuring that childminders and nurseries that are good or outstanding can automatically receive government funding for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds
  • supporting parents to access more informal care"

The press release accompanying the report's publication says that "All good and outstanding childminders and nurseries will automatically be eligible to receive government early education funding from September. At the moment local authorities act as gatekeepers to this funding. This change will mean that over 80% of nurseries and over 70% of childminders would be able to receive this funding. Less than 10% of childminders currently offer funded places. This reform will help create a fairer market for childminders, which alongside the introduction of childminder agencies should see increased choice for parents who want high quality home-based care."

Liz Bayram, PACEYLiz Bayram, PACEY's Chief Executive commented, “PACEY is interested to know more about the new proposals set out in More Affordable Childcare. It is a positive step to see the Government talking about increasing investment and exploring new options in the early years sector. But for childcare professionals, and the families they work for, quality must come first.

PACEY remains concerned that reforms, including the introduction of childminder agencies will damage the quality of childcare and fail to deliver savings for parents.  

There is also work to be done to clarify boundaries of where new services would begin and end. For example a childminder working in a school environment may lose their status as childminders and instead become afterschool club workers; with a range of implications from regulation and insurance, to status and pay.

We are pleased to see there are indications that in future Local Authorities will only allow good and outstanding providers to deliver free funded places. But there are still question marks over how and when this will manifest in practice.”

Childcare professionals can discuss this latest development at PACEY Local.