Following the government announcement to introduce childminding agencies, an independent focus group has been set up. The Independent Childminders’ Focus Group (ICFG), founded by childminder Simona McKenzie, aims to provide support to childminders and seek clarification about what will happen to childminders who choose to remain independent and not join an agency.
The press release from ICFG raises concerns about safeguarding and quality under the new structure:
‘Childminders attached to an agency will no longer be registered directly with Ofsted. The proposal is that the childminder agency will be required to be registered with the regulatory body, Ofsted and the agency will be responsible to make checks on the childminder. This raises numerous concerns about quality and potentially a two tier service.’
Newly registering childminders will have to join an agency, under the new structure, whilst existing childminders can choose between remaining independent or registering with an agency.
Independent childminders will continue to be registered with Ofsted and will have to pay for registration and inspections, the cost of which are so far unclear.