Childminders and 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.


What is the problem and solution in England?

The definition of 'childcare' in the Childcare Act 2006 excludes care provided for a child by parents or any other relatives. In England, the Government has interpreted this to mean that childminders cannot deliver the early years and childcare entitlements to any children related to them by blood or marriage, whom they may already be looking after for payment. 

  • Other important forms of childcare support in England do permit parents to use related childminders. This includes Tax-Free Childcare, childcare vouchers, Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit, as long as they are Ofsted-registered and caring for the child outside the child’s home. 
  • The ban on related children in England is unique to childminders. Individuals working in or owning a nursery, school or pre-school are permitted to claim the entitlement for related children. 
  • Many relatives of registered childminders have been forced to move to new settings to take up their entitlement. This not only greatly disrupts continuity of care, but it can be particularly detrimental if the child has a disability or special educational need.
  • It creates a major barrier to engaging more childminders in the delivery of the free entitlement. Only three per cent of 2-year-olds and one per cent of 3- and 4-year-olds currently take up a funded place with a childminder.
  • The ban currently affects a large number of childminders, and will continue to do so in the future. 38% of childminders currently have at least one child in their setting related to them by blood or marriage. 40% of childminders said it was likely that a related child will attend their setting in the future. These statistics come from PACEY’s 2018 Building Blocks survey.
  • Childminders in Wales are permitted to deliver funded places to related children who do not live with them. Following lobbying from PACEY Cymru, the Welsh Government have confirmed a change in policy to allow registered childminders to deliver the Childcare Offer to a child who is also a relative but who does not live with them.

What is the solution?

The Government should harmonise the criteria for using childcare provided by relatives, so that parents in England can use related childminders for the early education and childcare entitlements, just as they can for Tax-Free Childcare and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit/Universal Credit, as long as the childminder is registered with Ofsted and the care is being provided outside the child’s home.  

The registration and inspection process with Ofsted is sufficiently rigorous that a person would be extremely unlikely to be motivated and able to successfully pass through it if she or he were not a genuine childminder. Indeed, there is no evidence that this is happening in relation to tax credits, which provides a much greater degree of financial support.

What is PACEY doing?

We strongly believe that the ban in England on childminders providing funded places to related children is unfair and we will not stop campaigning until the ban is overturned.

We have been raising this issue with government ministers, senior officials and parliamentarians whenever we can as a matter of urgency. 

Recently we have raised it with the past six childcare ministers:

All letters have been accompanied by our policy briefing, detailed the reasons why we feel so strongly about this issue, as well as a number of case studies. 

The issue also regularly features in media reports and our submissions to government consultations, for example on the funding review30 hours delivery and the red tape review of childcare.

What can you do to help?

Contact your local MP, you can do this in three easy steps:

  1. Find out who your local MP is, and their contact information.
  2. Download PACEY's template letter. Use this as a starting point, and feel free to edit this as much as you would like. Do not forget to explain how the ban has personally affected you and your family.
  3. Email or post your letter to your local MP and the current parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Vicky Ford MP.

Spread the word on social media:

  1. Use #letsmakeithappen and tag @PACEYChildcare (Twitter) or @PACEYlocal (Facebook)
  2. Once you have contacted your MP, click to tweet and spread the word!
  3. Download our media pack and images - image 1, image 2, image 3, image 4, image 5

Share your story:

PACEY is 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.


BBC Wales - Childcare fees stopped for some relatives in pilot scheme​
Nursery World - Childminders in Wales win funding for related children
Day Nurseries - Welsh childminders to recieve funding for related children
Nursery World Magazine - Changes in mind, Editors view - p.3
Nursery World Magazine - Childminders' relative rule plea - p.10-11
Nursery World - Childminders' relative rule plea
Nursery World - Childminder numbers drop by 600 in three months
EYE Magazine - August issue - End ban on childcare by relatives - p.8