PACEY Cymru have been disappointed to learn that Welsh Government have changed the guidance they previously offered on access to Childcare Offer funding for parents who use a relative who is a registered childminder. This change means that childminders in Wales are now in a similar position to childminders in England where they are unable to provide funded childcare for related children. PACEY has been campaigning for over a decade for childminders to be permitted to deliver funded early education and childcare places to children who are related to them. PACEY Cymru will be working closely with policy colleagues in England to lobby on this issue and call for a change to the law.
What is the change in guidance that has been confirmed for Wales?
The change in guidance comes from a review of the law in relation to the The Child Minding and Day Care Exceptions (Wales) Order 2016. This Order states that a person who looks after a child under the age of twelve on domestic premises for reward does not act as a child minder if the person is a parent, or a relative of the child or is a foster parent for the child. The Exceptions Order goes on to define relative as ‘a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or the half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step parent.’ Welsh Government have confirmed, following consultation with their legal team, that any other relative (e.g. great aunt) does not fall under the Order’s definition of a relative. They are therefore able to act as a childminder for a great niece/nephew and receive funding through the Childcare Offer.
What was the previous guidance?
The previous guidance provided by Welsh Government that PACEY Cymru shared and held up as an example of Wales leading the way in order to support childcare sustainability and a proportionate approach was that a grandparent or other relative could deliver the funded Childcare Offer if the care was provided wholly or mainly outside of the child’s home. PACEY Cymru is extremely disappointed in this change in direction. Though we understand the legalities of it we strongly believe that a change in the law, or interpretation of this, is needed to ensure childminders can deliver the Childcare Offer going forward to relatives who are not resident with them.
What does this mean?
We are aware of situations where this change in position has meant families with long term private childcare arrangements with childminders are having now to make a choice as to whether to continue with their current private childcare arrangement, and the financial cost of this, or move children to a setting where they can access the funding greatly disrupting continuity of care. This can be particularly detrimental if the child has a disability or special educational need. We do not believe this supports key Welsh Government aims around emotional well-being for children or sustainability of childcare provision.
The ban on related children in Wales is unique to childminders; individuals working in or owning a nursery or pre-school are permitted to claim the entitlement for related children.
Parents on Working Tax Credit (WTC) or Universal Credit (UC) and students are also able to receive significant support with childcare costs if they use a registered childminder related to them as long as they so not live at the same address and are caring for other children to whom they are not related. The same is true for parents taking up Tax-Free Childcare.
What is the solution?
PACEY believes there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the Welsh Government would not be ‘paying parents to parent’ if it allowed childminders to deliver funded places to relatives. The registration and inspection process requires the same standards of all childminders, whether they care for a related or an unrelated child.
For an additional reassurance, however, government could limit the number of related children for which a childminder could claim the free entitlement, for example to one or two children.
Call to action
We have written to the Minister for Children and Social Care and have had a meeting with Welsh Government around this. They are looking further at the position and any evidence or case studies we can gather will be used to support our lobbying work in Wales. If you are a registered childminder in Wales that is:
- affected by this position currently,
- are likely to be in the future
- or have a view on this (even if you are not affected)
we would be grateful if you would complete our online survey and share with other childminders in Wales to ensure a good response rate. The survey should not take more than 10 minutes and all views shared will be treated in confidence.
The survey is available for childminders in Wales in English here
The survey is available for childminders in Wales in Welsh here
You can also contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to share any specific concerns, queries or experiences.
Welsh Government also is looking for feedback to support the development of the Childcare Offer in Wales through their Talk Childcare campaign. They are currently seeking the views of childcare providers and it would strengthen lobbying work for as many childminders as possible in Wales to share their thoughts in writing with Welsh Government.
PACEY has been campaigning for over a decade for childminders to be permitted to deliver funded early education and childcare places to children who are related to them. With your support PACEY Cymru will be working closely with policy colleagues in England to lobby on this issue and call for a change to the law.
PACEY Cymru have written to the Minister for Children and Social Care to raise concerns around this and to highlight the issues faced by members. Read the letter. Once a response is received and further discussions held we will update this page. Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager (Wales) for PACEY Cymru has also had a meeting with senior Civil Servants from Welsh Government to put pressure on the government to change their position in relation to this.