The ongoing decline in the number of registered childminders in England and Wales means that childminding is in danger. If the decline in England continues at the current rate, we will lose another third of childminders by 2027 - a total loss of two-thirds of registered childminders since 2012, drastically reducing the choice available to families. Ultimately, we could have no childminders left by 2034.
If things continue as they are, in just a few years, most families will not be able to choose this high quality, flexible form of childcare.
We know that childminding is especially beneficial to children’s communication, social and emotional development (SEED, 2017), so this is indeed a stark warning today from PACEY, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.
“We know how much childminding is valued by the families who use it and we want to ensure that future generations can choose home-based care,” says Liz Bayram, PACEY's Chief Executive. “But, despite efforts by governments and regulators to ensure current childcare policy and regulation accommodates registered childminding it continues to decline. We know there are many reasons why people are leaving childminding – lack of professional status, low incomes, too much paperwork – but we don’t know as much about why fewer people are choosing to become childminders in the first place. No doubt some of the issues will be the same, but there is very little evidence on trends in childminder recruitment.”
Analysis of Ofsted data shows that the number of childminders leaving the profession annually in England has remained in consistent decline each year, but that the number of people registering to become a childminder has declined significantly. “This is why PACEY has today launched its Inquiry into Childminding in the 21st Century.”
Liz continues “We believe that not only do we need up to date evidence on why people are leaving the sector but we need to better understand why even fewer people are choosing to register as a childminder. Low income and too much paperwork plays its part, but anecdotally we hear from new childminders that the issue is more complex than this. For example, there are more flexible working opportunities available than there were 10 to 15 years ago; and most local authorities no longer have the capacity to recruit more childminders locally.
“So we are launching our inquiry to both understand what has changed and to explore what more could be done to make childminding a more attractive career to both join and remain in. Not just by government and regulators, but by PACEY itself and the many other organisations and individuals that are supporting people to think about becoming a childminder.”
Over the summer PACEY will be working with researchers at the University of Plymouth to run a national survey. Alongside this PACEY will be holding online discussions via social media as well as focus groups with a wide range of different people including:
- Childminders (prospective, new, existing, and those who have recently left)
- local authorities
- parents and carers
- self-employed entrepreneurs
Jane Comeau, PACEY Chair, explained: “We think childminding needs to be reinvented for the 21st Century and we want to hear your ideas and views on what’s great about it and what needs to change to attract future childminders.
"Is the joy of working with children the biggest attraction? Or is it the independence that comes with running your own business? Does the name “childminder” put you off? If you could change anything about childminding what would it be?
"PACEY’s Board will be reviewing the charity’s long term plans late this year and this Inquiry will feed directly into the decisions we make. So, if you care about childminding, let us hear your views."
Take part in the survey here.