Extending to offer 30 hours

Childminder Tracy Abnett started her business 25 years ago, and is expanding her setting to meet parental demand for funded childcare hours in England.

Growing my business wasn’t a conscious decision, it has been a natural transition. The setting has increased in size because of parental demand. I started taking on students and apprentices and now I employ four assistants. With 30 hours on the horizon, and all my parents that are entitled to 30 hours wanting to utilise their funded hours, we have had to expand. 

Staffing has been a big consideration for me as I want to make sure I employ the right people. I have been very lucky as my daughter changed career and now also works at the setting. Having that close family member meant I have someone working with me that I trust completely, which has opened up opportunities for expansion and we are now taking on new premises.

And now, one of my assistants is actually one of the babies I used to look after – she first came to me when she was three months old and now is of one my employees! Students have also been a great support for the business, they are keen to learn and you are able to spend time with them to assess if they could be an assistant in the making.

It is important to remain impartial, especially if you are working with family members, so I hold supervision meetings with each individual and as a group. It can be difficult to begin with to show that you are the boss, but ultimately it is your business and you are in charge and I have found my staff respect that. 

30 hours is set to bring a lot of business for us, and I pre-empted demand by sending a letter to parents explaining about the funding and entitlement to better understand if they were looking for funded places. This proved invaluable as it demonstrated how much demand there is. We are also lucky that the funding rate is favourable in our area so we are able to offer the entitlement. If we weren’t able to do so I think we would lose a lot of business to competitors.

Tracy's top tips: 

  • Be organised and stay on top of your game. Don’t let things like paperwork slip as it is a downward spiral if you do
  • Keep up to date with developments, as the childcare changes are fast-paced, ensure staff are continually trained 
  • Consider taking on students to help support your setting as they could be your assistants of the future

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