Today, the Government has released the first details of their new childcare strategy. At tiney, we are encouraged to see the Government putting childminding at the heart of these plans and we’re really interested to hear what the sector thinks too.
In this set of proposed reforms, childminders are being acknowledged as a crucial part of early years’ future. It’s welcome news to hear that the Government will put plans in place to boost childminder numbers, including more financial support for new childminders. The sector has lost far too many excellent practitioners in recent years and this is a very welcome step towards encouraging more talented, dedicated people to enter this essential profession. This is also consistent with our mission at tiney - to ensure we bring more amazing childminders into the sector, whilst at the same time raising the profile and recognition of childminding as a crucial early years career.
And we’re also encouraged to see recognition of the role Childminder Agencies can play in making this happen. We believe that the support and community agencies like tiney provide can make all the difference when it comes to building a happy, resilient and successful childminding community. And, in turn, helping them make a positive impact on the children and families they support.
We hope that the integrity of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework will be protected as part of these reforms, as a key driver of quality in our sector. However, we recognise that some elements of the framework are designed for nursery-settings, and therefore welcome any refinements which make it more practical and useful for childminders.
The same goes for the role of Ofsted. There is a lot of room to make the system work better for individual childminders and reduce their admin burden, without reducing quality. We believe that here, too, Childminder Agencies like tiney can help improve things - taking on the admin burden with modern tech tools and professional support and in turn, allowing childminders to get on with what they do best. We believe that more efficient processes and higher quality can go hand in hand.
We’re also pleased to hear that the Government will be helping boost education around existing childcare support for parents, as well as launching a consultation into updating the national funding formulae for early education entitlements of 2-4 year olds. A sensible revision of this system will enable the most vulnerable children in our society to get the support they need in order to thrive.
We completely understand that there is apprehension and concern around proposed ratio changes. Whilst the majority of today’s announcement focused on ratios in nursery settings, it did also put forward suggestions which will affect childminders. This includes the potential to allow a providers’ own children or siblings to be counted differently - something we know is an important issue for many of our own tiney childminders and their own families. We believe that some considered, small changes like this are worth exploring, and more clarity in the statutory framework around ratios for childminders would also be welcome. We’ll be creating time and space for our own community to discuss this in the coming weeks. We then highly encourage everyone across the sector to engage with the consultation and make their views heard on this important issue - it’s vital that any future policy is informed by your lived experiences and first-hand knowledge.
With today’s announcement, I am hopeful that we are taking the first few crucial steps towards empowering existing and new childminders to succeed, lightening the load for families, and protecting the futures of our youngest children. Childminders are the future of sustainable childcare and early years education and we want to help as many as possible flourish.