Agencies will be ‘one-stop-shop’ organisations which will help childminders with training, business support, advice and finding suitable parents. By creating new childminder agencies, we hope to attract new high-quality providers and create more choice for parents.
Parents will be reassured about the quality of care provided as agencies will register with, and be inspected by, Ofsted. Membership will be entirely voluntary and childminders will be able to maintain their independence and individual Ofsted inspection if they prefer not to join an agency.
Agencies will be free to deliver an innovative service which works for them and the parents they work with. For example, agencies could offer combined nursery and childminder packages to suit individual parents. They might be led by existing or former childminders, schools, nurseries, children’s centres or private enterprises with an interest in childcare. They will be self-funded and independent of government.
This flexibility means that agencies can deliver the services parents really need – while ensuring they deliver certain core requirements, meaning there are key advantages to this new approach for parents and childminders.
It will be entirely voluntary for childminders to join agencies and for parents to use them.
Parents will find it easier to secure a suitable place for their child – agencies will offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ of advice and help with finding a childminder. Agencies will handle administrative arrangements, which may include fees. They will provide parents with support on a range of issues and help if any problems emerge with their childminder.
Parents will have the reassurance of knowing that the agency is registered with, and inspected by, Ofsted, and that the agency has carried out thorough checks on its childminders, including regular home visits. Parents who use agencies will know that their childminder is suitably qualified and receiving support, development and training.
Agencies will help to handle day to day issues and emergencies, including ensuring that cover is provided if a childminder is unwell or on holiday.
Agencies will help to match childminders and parents, freeing childminders from having to spend time and resources trying to fill their places.
Agencies will remove some of the burdens of registration for childminders. They will be able to handle fees from parents and will have a role in managing government funding on behalf of childminders, such as tax credits and the free childcare entitlement – freeing up childminders to concentrate on the children they care for.
For new or prospective childminders, those working in rural areas where there may not be much support, or for more experienced childminders who want to work more collaboratively; agencies will offer a support network and a more secure way of working.
Agencies will offer a single place to access training, business advice and support from other childminders. Childminders will be able to call on agencies for support and advice when needed. They will be able to build relationships with other childminders, and be supported in their ongoing professional development, including through training packages and peer support – which will help ensure they are offering high quality care.
Agencies will be able to offer financial savings to childminders in areas such as training and group activities. Agencies will also make it easier for resources, such as toys and equipment, to be shared across groups of childminders.
For the latest information about childminder agencies please go to our page on improving the quality and range of education and childcare.
Improving the quality and range of education and childcare from birth to 5 years