Press Release: Grassroots childcare campaign Childcare for All lends support to Government motion in today’s House of Commons vote

Press Release – 10th June 2013.

 

With MPs due to vote on the Children and Families Bill later today, campaign group Childcare for All hopes that the Government will have full support across the benches for its efforts to change childcare regulations for the better. We want to see childcare becoming more affordable and more accessible to all regardless of income, and believe that the changes proposed will do that. 

Last week, the amendments to child:carer ratios were vetoed by Clegg in a cynical political move designed to shore up his support with middle class mums. Childcare for All urges MPs not to play political games with what is, for many low income and single parent families, one of the most difficult issues they have to struggle with day to day.

 

Campaign director Donna Edmunds, a single mother herself said:


“We were very disappointed last week to see the changes to ratios overturned, as there is good evidence that the proposed changes would have made childcare cheaper and of better quality. To Honourable Members the issue may well present an opportunity to indulge in political point scoring. But for millions of women across the country who have had to put their careers on hold, perhaps indefinitely, for their children, the problems that the changes to ratios set to address were very real.

“Nonetheless, we look forward to the proposals for childminder agencies having the full support of the House today. Childminders can offer a warmer, more home-like setting for children who find it difficult to adapt to nurseries, yet their numbers have halved in the last two decades thanks to nothing more than bureaucracy. We welcome any move designed to bring more people into the profession, and making it easier to start a childminding business, by handing the paperwork over to agencies, is an excellent idea.

“Finally, we warmly welcome the end of duplicate inspections and trust that this will gain support from MPs. It is madness that a childminder is inspected by both Ofsted and the local authority, all the more so because the local authority is taking money designed to be spent on educating our children to undertake the assessments. Parents simply want to know that the childminder they send their children to is well qualified and caring. It doesn’t take two authorities, sometimes offering contradictory remarks, to find that out.”

 

The original bill included a provision to bring child:carer ratios in line with other European countries such as France and Germany, where staff are paid better and parents pay less. Sweden has no regulation at all concerning staff ratios. 

The current bill still includes provision to create childminder agencies, with the agency having responsibility for the business side of childminding, including matching parents with a suitably qualified childminder in their area. This would also have practical benefits such as being able to offer cover for childminders who fall ill. Currently, parents are left in the lurch and have to find alternate provision at short notice.

It also ends the unnecessary duplication of inspections by Ofsted and local authorities, by handing the responsibility solely to Ofsted. Some £160m a year earmarked for education for three and four year olds is currently retained by local authorities, in part to pay for inspections of local childminders, despite Ofsted already carrying out inspections. This has meant some childminders attempting to satisfy contradictory requests from the two authorities, and adds costs to the childminder. 

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