All registered childminders this week will have received an email and supporting letter from CSSIW confirming their position in respect of information that they will require to support applications from childminders to vary their conditions of registration from April 2016 to include the care of over 8s.
Following engagement events before Christmas and ongoing concerns raised by PACEY Cymru, registered childminders and the sector, CSSIW has now reviewed its position and will not require any declaration in respect of planning or evidence from local planning departments as part of the process.
What does this mean?
As the regulator CSSIW has confirmed their role is to ensure that the premises are safe and suitable for the provision of care, taking into account the maximum number of children you will care for at any one time and the available space for each child. Regulations and the National Minimum Standards for child care are being revised to reflect the new policy and to remove requirements within the regulations and National Minimum Standards related to planning and building control.
CSSIW has stated clearly that compliance with local planning requirements is a separate process to regulatory requirements for childcare and are not matters that will determine CSSIW’s assessment of your service. It is important to remember however (as stated in the CSSIW letter) existing childminders and those looking to register as a childminder in Wales are responsible for making sure that their premises comply with planning and building control (and other legislation that exists ie. environmental health and fire safety regulations). To put more simply, even though planning declarations are not needed by CSSIW doesn't mean you should not be compliant with planning etc.
This change means that childminders can progress with the application to vary their conditions to care for over 8s while work on overcoming planning issues and moving these to resolution continues separate to this.
Is work continuing on this issue?
We are continuing to work on the issues that have arisen in relation to planning and this work will be ongoing in coming months. We will continue to share information on this issue on our website as it arises and would appreciate you continuing to share evidence on local issues in relation to this.
Welsh Government will shortly issue a revised circular to local planning authorities to set out guidance on this issue. This will recommend that they recognise the importance of the child care provision within their areas, and advising that they should respond without charge to informal enquires from childminders asking whether they require planning permission. However, as informal planning advice is a discretionary service, ultimately, it is a matter for local planning authorities to decide. We are aware of the growing picture around childminders being informed they will require planning permission and the fees that are charged in relation to this and this is an ongoing issue on which we are working on.
We have shared a recent update here on the work PACEY Cymru have been doing on this issue which aslso includes a sample letter that can be used to lobby AMs and local Councilors on ongoing planning issues to raise awareness and grow support.
For further information, queries or to provide us with local evidence to support these issues please email firstname.lastname@example.org.