Childminding Matters, a childminder support and training company based in Swindon and Oxfordshire, have sold their Ofsted registered childminder agency to @Home Childcare. The two agencies have merged and operate as @Home Childcare Childminder Agency. Both Childminding Matters (CMM) and @Home Childcare (@HCC) are members of OFCMA (Organisation for Childminder Agencies).
Wendy Ockenden, a co-director of CMM stated, “It has been an extremely difficult decision to sell the childminder agency part of our business. We approached @HCC because they were the obvious choice. They already have a satellite office in nearby Bristol for their training provision, and childminder agency services, which is new to Bristol, and now Swindon. We believe our registered childminders would welcome support offered locally.
We have worked alongside @HCC since the conception of childminder agencies by the government in 2013. Together, we were part of the Department for Education’s Task & Finish Group, which was tasked with setting up Childminder Agencies. Like Childminding Matters, @HCC have a quality improvement model, at the core of their agency, like the former networks that we ran for over 20 years.”
The merger enabled childminders to have continuity of registration, thus minimum disruption for all involved. This was a key priority of both agencies. The directors of CMM will work alongside @HCC over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.
"We have worked alongside @HCC since the conception of childminder agencies by the government in 2013." - Wendy Ockenden, Childminding Matters co-director.
The merger shows the value of OFCMA. If an agency closes, member agencies can work jointly to ensure childminders can continue to trade and provide childcare to families, without the cost and delay caused by having to apply to Ofsted or another agency. The childminders can decide to register with Ofsted or another agency, knowing that their registration remains secure so they can choose to go elsewhere when they are ready.
The smooth transfer may not have happened if OFCMA did not exist, according to Wendy Ockenden. “We believe that this is the first instance of a sale or merger of an agency and it demonstrates the importance of CMAs working together to avoid potentially difficult situations. It also shows the value of OFCMA, because in truth, without it, we would have probably directed our childminders back to Ofsted with the disruption and uncertainty that may have caused.”
Yvette Oliver-Mighten, the chief executive of @Home Childcare, “we are thrilled to purchase Childminding Matters Childminder Agency. It is a boost to our presence in Bristol and surrounding South West areas, whilst assuring our growth as one of the leading childminder agencies representing quality standards in home-based early education.
It feels like a natural progression because we are already in the locality delivering apprenticeships and our Early Years Academy. One of our core values is that we
expand in areas where we are confident we already have staff and infrastructure to be able to offer support and regulation services to childminders interested in joining a community where high aspirations for children is paramount.
CMM will step down as members of OFCMA. “Although we no longer run a childminder agency, we will continue to support OFCMA. The numerous benefits of registering with childminder agencies is beginning to be recognised but more still needs to be done for the wider sector to understand the role of agencies and how they fill the support and regulation gap for childminders.”