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.
The definition of 'childcare' in the Childcare Act 2006 excludes care provided for a child by parents or any other relatives. In England and Wales the Government has interpreted this to mean that childminders are not permitted to claim the free entitlement for their own children or other relatives, whom they may already be looking after. The position in Wales changed recently and an update on this has been shared in the News secion of our website.
However, the ban on related children in England 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 problem in England?
The ban has long been a major barrier to engaging more childminders in the delivery of the free entitlement. Only three per cent of two-year-olds and one per cent of three- and four-year-olds take up a funded place with a childminder.
It now has the potential to become an even bigger barrier with the doubling of the early education and childcare entitlement for three- and four-year-olds of working parents.
The ban is also forcing many grandchildren of registered childminders to move to new settings to take up their entitlement, greatly disrupting continuity of care. This can be particularly detrimental if the child has a disability or special educational need.
What is the solution?
PACEY believes there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure 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.
What is PACEY doing?
We strongly believe that the ban in England and Wales on childminders providing funded places to related children is unfair.
We have been raising this issue with government ministers, senior civil servants and parliamentarians whenever we can. For example, recently we have raised it with the past four childcare ministers: Liz Truss, Sam Gyimah, Caroline Dinenage and Robert Goodwill, as well as shadow ministers and parliamentary select committees.
Read our recent letter and to the current minister responsible for childcare and early years, Robert Goodwill MP, and accompanying policy briefing.
It also regularly features in media reports and our submissions to government consultations, for example on the funding review, 30 hours delivery and the red tape review of childcare.
We will not stop campaigning until the ban is overturned.
Have you been affected?
PACEY is currently compiling a series of case studies to illustrate to policy-makers how the ban affects our members. If you would like to share your experience, please contact our policy team.