@Home Childcare is the beginning of a Quiet Revolution in the Childminding Sector
Have you heard about the quiet revolution that is taking place in the childminding sector? No! Well, that’s not surprising because it involves childminder agencies, newcomers to the childcare market. We have been under the radar since our inception 4 years ago.
Childminder agencies (CMAs) are still around. They may only be 11 registered but the agencies who are actively registering childminders, are going strong.
Take my own childminder agency, @Home Childcare. We have spent the last 4 years quietly registering and supporting childminders. We have been quiet about our work because, rather than feel deflated by the myths and negativity surrounding CMAs, we have simply focused on developing and refining our agency model to prove that our trail-blazing work is a positive force for change.
We launched the quiet revolution campaign to give an insight into our pioneering work, particularly the positive impact we are having on childminders. For the first time, rather go it alone, childminders can choose be part of a professional community where they can gain benefits such as early years qualifications, support and training with the early years curriculum, personal mentors and annual inspections
Inspections are the game changer as childminders registered with agencies are inspected annually, rather than the usual 3 – 5 years that other childminders receive. Lots of things can go wrong in between the years waiting for your next inspection, especially as most childminders do not have external support they can call on. Parents like the fact that childminders within our community are annually inspected, but also regularly supported and trained. It gives them extra peace of mind knowing there is a specialist company regularly monitoring their childminder’s quality.
Part of our vision is for parents to recognise that childminders’ settings are a great place for their children to get the best start in life. That’s why we are doing all that we can to shout about the important work of high quality childminders. Childminders deliver the same Early Years Foundation Stage outcomes as nurseries, pre-schools and nursery schools. The difference is the place of learning are home environments which they arrange as nurturing and stimulating spaces for children to flourish. Childminders’ home settings are the equivalent of small nurseries. Definitely not a minding or babysitting service!
To help raise the professional profile of childminders, we a few years ago to call registered childminders, home early educators (educators, for short) in recognition of their specialist role providing early education and care to children in a safe home environment.
We also dislike the term, agency. It is one of the reasons why there are still so many misconceptions. We prefer to use the term community or even network to describe our work as a childminder agency, because that’s what we are an Ofsted approved, quality assured community of home early educators.
@Home Childcare is a social enterprise so we have a particular interest in removing barriers to entry for suitable people interested in registering home early educators. That’s why we trialed an employed/contracted route for people to become educators. The model will be rolled out in certain locations in 2020. The sector needs to diversify if it is going to survive. We are doing all we can do recruit and retain childminders. However, we are doing it with one hand tied behind our backs because some parts of the sector have still not acknowledged our existence or have opened their minds to find out more about our important work. However, we are still going strong and we are determined to be heard.
We intend to shout from the rooftops in 2020. You will be hearing a lot more from us and OFCMA (the Organisation for Childminder Agencies) in 2020. Watch this space!