Social Enterprise Agency Shakes Up the Childminding Sector

@Home Childcare (@HCC) is breathing new life into the childminding sector with an agency model offering childminders varied routes into the profession. Suitable individuals interested in setting up and running their own business can register with the agency as a self-employed childminder and work independently. Others who prefer to avoid the hassle or expense of setting up a business can become employed childminders through @HCC, while they undertake an early years qualification.

As a social enterprise, @HCC provides a generous start-up subsidy and funded training to all individuals it approves as suitable childminders. It has spent the last three years growing and developing its support, training and regulation service for the conventional self-employed route.

The agency’s chief executive, Yvette Oliver-Mighten, believes the childminding market needs diversifying to encourage more people to enter it.

“Over the last few years we have registered a range of childminders with different aspirations and needs,” she explains. “We have learnt there is no-one-size-fits-all model to suit everyone. Childminders need different models to match their aspirations and to help them provide high-quality care and education in the different types of communities they serve. This includes disadvantaged and affluent communities in cities and rural areas.”

@HCC piloted its new employment model last year by recruiting two childminders through Bulwell jobcentre in Nottingham. The agency collaborated with work coaches to select people who genuinely wanted to become childminders but were deterred by having to set up a business and the associated cost. The agency provided funded start-up training, pre-registration support and continued support and guidance.

“This is a major feat as we have successfully progressed two individuals off government benefits into a valued career,” explains Yvette. “Our two childminders have been employed for seven months now. Being employed means we take care of business matters such as financials including credit control, online marketing, handling parental enquiries, the matching process and so on. This frees up the childminder’s time, so that they can focus on children’s learning and development, and coursework for their Level 3 qualification.”

The agency intends to diversify childminding further by offering fee collection and parent-matching services to self-employed childminders who prefer the benefits of a back office dealing with their admin and credit control.

Yvette is adamant that registering with a trusted Ofsted registered childminder agency that regularly visits and monitors childminders is the best option for some in the profession. “We are the quality choice if you want to become a childminder because of the regular inspections, support and training we offer.” the chief executive explains.

“Childminder agencies are pioneers of a new, innovative model of early education that was not initially understood or valued by the sector,” continues Yvette. “The regular scrutiny and monitoring childminders receive from their agency mean we are constantly checking the quality of our registered members and assessing what is it like being a child with one of our childminders. It is time our trailblazing role is recognised as worthy and positive for childminders and children alike.”

The social enterprise registered as a childminder agency (CMA) in December 2015. It covers Nottinghamshire, Derby, Leicestershire, Sheffield, and now, Bristol and Birmingham. It currently has 49 registered childminders, 47 of which are independent, self-employed childminders running their own businesses.

@HCC is a member of the Organisation for Childminder Agencies (OFCMA). The sector will be hearing more about OFCMA and their members throughout 2019.

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