Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update, which provides a summary of the latest policy developments in England and Wales concerning childcare and early years, and how we are representing your views to key decision makers.
First off, we are pleased to report that we have finally received official confirmation that most childminders do not need a music license. Whilst most early years settings are required to purchase a joint annual license from PPL and PRS for Music, childminders are exempt unless they have a ‘specific’ and ‘exclusive’ area within their homes used only for their childcare business.
After much ado, the 30-hour entitlement was finally rolled out across England on 1st September. In addition to serious concerns about the low funding rates in many areas, and other longstanding problems such as delayed payments and red tape, PACEY has also been raising the issue of underrepresentation of childminders. In the early implementation of 30 hours, only seven per cent of places were taken up with a childminder. However, our 30 hours snap poll found that a majority of childminders – 61 per cent – are planning to offer funded places of up to 30 hours per week, either in full, or in partnership with other providers such as pre-schools and nurseries.
This does not mean that childminders no longer have concerns about the policy. A significant number of childminders who are planning to offer 30 hours told us they are doing so ‘reluctantly’ in order to help families – or because they will lose business if they do not. Many will be strictly limiting the number of 30-hour places they offer and when they offer them. The full findings of our poll were reported in Nursery World, along with a comment piece from our Chief Executive Liz Bayram, which called for more recognition of and support for the fantastic job childminders are doing every day – as well as sustainable funding.
In the coming months, PACEY will be monitoring the impact of 30 hours closely, with help from our members. We are also doing what we can to help keep childminding sustainable. In July we launched Business Smart, a free online business resource to support new and established childminding settings, which has already reached around 15,000 people. We have also joined up with the Institute of Health Visiting to help raise parental awareness of childminding.
In the next few weeks, we will be meeting with the new childcare minister, Robert Goodwill, and shadow minister, Tracy Brabin, as well as a number of officials from the Department for Education and Ofsted. As always, PACEY members are urged to get in touch with the issues you’d like us to raise to policymakers.
PACEY Cymru has had a busy start to September with the implementation of the start of the Childcare Offer pilot in Wales. We have been involved in the stakeholder reference group and a workshop run by Welsh Government to support development of innovative models that could increase capacity of childcare places in areas of demand. This work will obviously be ongoing but early indications are that the offer is being well received by parents and providers though it has been noted that media reports which focus on the offer in England is causing some confusion. We would suggest members ensure they keep up to date by reading the latest on our website.
Following work supported by PACEY Cymru in recent months Qualifications Wales, the regulators of qualifications in Wales, have announced that the development of a new suite of qualifications in Wales, including childcare and play will be led by a partnership between City and Guilds and WJEC. PACEY Cymru will be closely involved in this as it further develops through our work with Welsh Government, CSSIW, Social Care Wales and others. There will be engagement with members as the work progresses.
As we have recently shared on our website, CSSIW are proposing changes on how providers apply for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks in Wales. This includes proposals for charges for these that impact on registered childminders. PACEY Cymru have raised concerns and queries on behalf of members in relation to this and are awaiting the response from CSSIW and decision which will be shared as soon as it is confirmed.