View Full Version : What about when parents notice agencies.......

15-12-2013, 09:42 PM
I'm wondering what i will say when parents notice agencies are offering cheaper prices than mine..... What will I say if they ask if I'm going to lower my prices?

15-12-2013, 09:43 PM
Sorry to fuel the anxiety .... Just thinking aloud.

15-12-2013, 10:07 PM
First of all, there's nothing to say agencies will charge less that we do. They have to make their money some how and one of the ways will be to charge the parents a premium.
In my mind it's more likely that agencies will charge more than we do. Parents will possibly have to pay a registration fee and higher rates. Another great selling point for independent childminders :thumbsup:

I'm one of the most expensive childminders in my area. Some of them charge considerably less than I do, but not one of my parents has ever asked me to reduce my prices. I rarely have vacancies, so it hasn't done me any harm being more expensive. I can't see agencies changing that.

The Juggler
15-12-2013, 10:10 PM
relax hon. i've yet to see ANY solid argument that they would be able to offer cheaper childcare. unless that is they can find childminders who already charge less than we do who can afford to pay agency fees and for their services on top of that.

or, childminders like us who are prepared to DROP their fees in order to cover the agency fees and services and a bit more to make sure it's cheaper for parents

not going to happen - agencies WILL be more expensive whether the cost is to minders or parents - not going to work :panic::panic::panic:

15-12-2013, 10:44 PM
Another thing to consider is that most parents actually want to choose their own cm. All the parents ive spoken to are not happy with the though of agencies as they take the personal part out of finding us and our service.

15-12-2013, 10:57 PM
I totally agree BUT

Agencies are definitely coming as its been passed by Gmt/pmt
Coming in Sept

The whole point of agencies is to (somehow) lower the price of childcare.....we don't see how they possibly can (for all the reasons people have just stated) BUT that is what they are trying to do.
I wonder if even they know how its going to happen?

jackie 7
15-12-2013, 11:48 PM
Agencies will only succeede if we join. Just explain that they might seem better but cms will have to charge more to include our extra costs.

16-12-2013, 07:35 AM
Agencies are going to be tasked with bringing new childminders on board - it is most likely that they will set fees for those childminders - say, look after 3 children and get £xx a month income.

This is why Ms Truss is talking about childminders being employed - because agency childminders mostly will be in the future.

If they can say to a cm - look after 3 children for I dunno £8 / hour and you will get all the benefits of employment - sickness pay etc - then it will be an attractive prospect for many newly registering cms. Remember Ms Truss said registering new cms would be a good way of getting people back to work so these new cms will come off the dole queue and be parents who visit Children's Centres.

Then it will be up to us to show that we are better qualified - more professional etc... :D

hectors house
16-12-2013, 07:41 AM
I also think that childminders who have been graded inadequate and satisfactory may join agencies - some people here on the forum may get that grade after a complaint or after an over zealous inspector who doesn't see the whole picture and those childminders do everything they can to improve before the next inspection, but some childminders actually do deserve those low grades because they do no paperwork and don't follow the rules - I think it will be these childminders who join because they think everything will be done for them - in these cases maybe the Agencies will charge less than us - fine if you want a lazy, substandard childminder!

16-12-2013, 08:56 AM
I totally agree BUT

The whole point of agencies is to (somehow) lower the price of childcare.....we don't see how they possibly can (for all the reasons people have just stated) BUT that is what they are trying to do.
I wonder if even they know how its going to happen?

I doubt whether the regime either knows or cares how (if?) the cost of childcare will be reduced.

It seems to be an article of faith that everything can be improved by introducing an additional level of management or middle-(wo)men into any aspect of business or public service. Which is why we have hospitals, local authorities, etc. run by accountants and lawyers, instead of the people who actually do the job.

There's also a craze for believing that mucking about with something that already works will make it better and cheaper.

The lack of evidence for these things seems not to stop politicians (and to a large extent voters) from believing in them. Thatcher, B-liar, and Cameron all knew to look the camera squarely in the lens, sound sincere and repeat a lie often enough and with conviction, and people will believe it. And such schemes are always spun as ways of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. You can trace this right back to the Thatcherite privatisations and the scandalous bargain-basement sell-off of the nation's stock of social housing. Very popular political gambits for which Thatcher was still being praised when she went to her grave. But would anybody argue that fuel bills have come down in real terms; or that the train operating companies are running efficient services; or that it is now cheap and easy to find somewhere to live? As for the (formerly-Royal) Mail: we'll see...... :huh:

I think the case for "more affordable childcare" is not based on logical argument. The last thing any government needs is a free-thinking electorate. Rather it stands on the age-old truth that you can make people believe absolutely anything, just so long as they want to believe it. :(

16-12-2013, 09:35 AM
I don't like the agency model for many reasons. But I do think it will succeed - in business terms, even if it fails to deliver on the regime's promises - for a number of practical reasons.

An agency's main business advantage over CMs will be one of economies of scale. This is essentially down to a concentration of capital, skills, and resources, so it can dominate access to training and, above all, outdo individual CMs with huge advertising and marketing budgets. This level of visibility will represent a massive commercial advantage.

An agency's main appeal to parents will be ease of access, effectively taking the fuss and stress out of searching for and choosing a CM. I think they will lull parents into trusting the agency to select a CM (or at least a shortlist of CMs) on the family's behalf, without all the phone calls, visits, and having to compare all the different policies, fee packages, available hours, etc. that parents have to consider when doing their own search. Yes, some parents will continue to select their own CM. Many more will pay lip-service to this and simply give their local agency a call.

I think the main genuine benefit of agencies will be their ability to offer very flexible and consistent provision. With a lot of CMs on their books, they can offer instant holiday cover or be able to serve people with variable shifts by using 2 or more CMs per family. In our overall opposition to agencies, it is easy for us to overlook or sniff at these things, but they are genuine positives for many working families. I think a lot of parents will happily surrender their right to choose their own CM in return for knowing they will have no problems when their CM goes on holiday, or training, or falls ill, etc.

It is just possible that agencies could, given the right circumstances, drive down the costs/fees. Agencies (such as Childcare - South Notts - Netmums (http://www.netmums.com/south-notts/childcare/board) ) are already using media such as the Netmums childcare message boards to attract new CMs and take them through the entire registration and training process. There are plenty of Forum posts to show how daunting the whole process can be to those wishing to become CMs, and I can certainly see the appeal of a pre-reg person wanting an agency to take them through it and, once registered, get them started by having a ready supply of parents seeking childcare. No doubt this will come at a price: probably in terms of signing up to the agency for a minimum period of time. And the new CM may feel it is easier to then stick with what they know, rather than venturing into the uncertain world of independent CMing.

This might well give the agency the power to set relatively low fees, which would be attractive to parents and coincidentally fulfil Ms Truss's stated aim. The agency would deduct their own fee/profit, and pass on a much-reduced income to the CM. So why would the CM accept this state of affairs? Well, for one thing, they don't know anything different, having entered the industry through the agency in the first place. And for another, they may feel it worth accepting the low fee, because the agency can offer them a steady supply of work, keep their setting full, and provide lots of ancillary benefits such as training, admin, standardised stationery, ensuring payment on time, etc. and many other things that independent CMs so often struggle with. They may even branch out into employee-benefit type schemes such as preferential rates for insurance, personal pensions, shop/supplier discounts, etc.

If/when agencies achieve a dominant market position, they will be the ones setting the market price for childcare, and we independents may well be obliged to drop our own fees or fail to attract clients. :(

I hope I won't be seen as a heretic or Judas for pointing out the somewhat unpalatable notion that there might be some positives in the agency model, albeit whilst firmly believing it to be a bad thing as a whole. I'm not arguing that they're a good thing. But I am trying to be realistic about their likely commercial advantage possible appeal. To ignore such things will not do us independent CMs any good at all.

16-12-2013, 10:39 AM
I'm wondering what i will say when parents notice agencies are offering cheaper prices than mine..... What will I say if they ask if I'm going to lower my prices?

Do you have any evidence at this moment of how much an agency will charge?

Lots of 'wonderful' ideas in this thread...be careful who is reading them as this is an open forum

16-12-2013, 11:46 AM
Whilst I can see some of the advantages of agencies to working parents re holiday, sickness cover etc we already have that competition in the form of nurseries and that is the very reason alot of parents choose nurseries over cm so maybe nurseries have more to fear than we do? Parents who choose a cm over a nursery because they think its more personal and we can adapt to their individual needs but if we become an agency cm won't we lose our individuality and therefore our appeal? With the agency decide what meals we serve? I tailor mine to suit the likes of the children in my care. Will an agency tell us what activities to provide? What groups to attend? Most nurseries charge daily fees, will this have with agency cm, how will agencies deal with shift workers? Most cm are far more flexible than nurseries. A 10hr day with me is cheaper than a days fee at local nurseries by over £5 and those using less than 10hrs save considerably more.
I honestly can't see how it will cut the cost of childcare, can you see nurseries dropping their fee when they're already more expensive than cm's - I can't!
Most cm get alot of their work from word of mouth so do we really have that much to fear from agencies?

16-12-2013, 02:47 PM
I think we do - after Bunyip's careful step by step explanation ii is finally clear to me.
i think people will follow simple economics.
There's no reason why these newly trained agency childminders will be substandard

16-12-2013, 02:58 PM
How would it work with assistants? Same pay as childminder?

16-12-2013, 03:16 PM
I am glad it is clear for some...for me clear as mud!
CMs have existed for over 35 years without agencies...some cope extremely well with running their own business...some need help but I fail to see why this means they need agencies to produce paperwork and guide them along, or provide them with work or training??

Is the registration process tough?...so it should be but that does not mean it has to be wrapped in red tape
CMs are applying to be 'suitable people' to care for other people's children...so the process is not different from any who apply to open nurseries...should they too have an agency to guide them along the registration process?

And why is the process ' difficult'? both Ofsted and DfE are responsible for setting the requirements...so why do they not simplify them...Truss was fond of saying she would reduce red tape

Some CMs have had wonderful support from their LA...some very little and still succeed in getting high grades, being updates and informed.
Some have belonged to Networks...others have not and still succeed whether 'Accredited' or otherwise...so where is the justification for agencies?

In 20 years of childcare we were always referred to as the ' childcareworkforce'...we are now a 'market'

Good luck to any cm who may in the end see the agency as the only solution...I won't buy it....I will not hand my 'business' to anyone without a fight

Lets focus on getting some replies for independent cms instead of worrying about something that is just being 'trialled' and few want! that is the priority

If a parent were to compare my fees with an agency cm I would have plenty to answer back

So I will keep to my original and never changing view on agencies...it is an ideology

16-12-2013, 04:20 PM
Bunyip has made it clear how they will operate - that's what I meant. None of us welcome this - obviously.

16-12-2013, 05:22 PM
Bunyip has made it clear how they will operate - that's what I meant. None of us welcome this - obviously.

No one as yet knows how they will operate although we can maybe make an educated guess...but it will be a guess
no one knows which model they will choose...commercial or otherwise?
no one knows what they will charge CMs and parents alike
no one knows why Truss stated recently 'parents will find it easier to employ a CM'...really? since when we are employees?
no one in truth knows anything on this side of the fence because even the agencies do not know themselves what CMs want...why are they setting up to be an agency then?
LAs should be well qualifies to support Cms but how many of those trialling are releasing any details?

In the end agencies will be 'networks' with a different label but while Networks were free agencies won't be....so why could the networks up and running recently not be turned into universal support for CMs even at a small cost?
They created a two tier system a long time ago ...now we have another in the making that will do exactly the same??

An update from some of the agencies is here in NWorld review of the year:
Overview of the year - Roundup: this year's big news | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1141088/news-analysis-overview-roundup-bignews)

This is the bit about agencies...doesn't sound to me that all is up and running smoothly!

Plans to introduce childminder agencies have proved unpopular with the sector, with a large number of childminders wishing to remain independent.

The proposals were first outlined in More Great Childcare in January. They are expected to become enshrined in law.

The Government sees childminder agencies as a means of cutting costs and bureaucracy for individual childminders and as the key to expanding childminder numbers.

Childminders' main concerns are that agencies will create a two-tier system, push up fees, be more costly for childminders and create a child safeguarding risk, with only agencies receiving Ofsted inspections rather than individual childminders. More than 200 childminders, most rated good or outstanding and holding degrees, have posted comments on Facebook saying they will not be joining a childminding agency.

Claire Brunner, a childminder in Leeds, said, 'I am an outstanding childminder, an EYP and hold a MA in Early Years. I will not be joining an agency because it will impact negatively on the quality, price, accountability, individuality, safety of provision for children, and choice of childcare for parents.'

Another childminder, Sam Littlejohns from Leicester, said, 'I do not see how joining an agency will help to reduce the cost of childcare. I charge £3 an hour. I can't go any lower.'

The Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years, which believes childminder agencies will have a negative impact on the childminder profession, has said that it will now start to advise the Government on the agency model.

Concerns have also been raised over the progress of the 20 childminder agency pilots, which will run for 12 months. In October, Nursery World reported that while several organisations had held meetings with childminders in their local communities, some attendees felt those running the pilots did not seem to have knowledge or experience of childminding.

Nursery World has now contacted a number of the 20 organisations running the childminder pilots for an update.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said it is continuing to look at how such an agency approach could be developed and is planning to hold further discussion with childminders, other key professionals and parents during Spring 2014. The council added, 'nothing has been agreed or finalised yet.'

Riverside Cares, which is trialling a childminder agency, said the start of the pilot coincided with the launch of its new website, which has a dedicated area for childminders where they can ask questions about participating in the agency.

Managing director Jill Wheatcroft said, 'This (the dedicated area for childminders) has proved really rewarding and we invite people to contact us with any questions or comments. As the scheme enters its second phase, we're meeting and speaking with childminders. Some have concerns about the scheme's long-term impact; others, as they learn more about it, are opening up to the idea that this could provide another route to childminding and support.'

South Gloucestershire Council said the agency pilot is enabling it to trial new ways of attracting childminders and offering them flexible training and support.

Sue Tanner, interim senior advisor for early years at the council, said, 'We will need a new generation of childminders to respond to the planned housing expansion in South Gloucestershire.

'We are using this opportunity of working with different pilot agencies to learn more about how others work. Being part of the pilot doesn't mean that we will automatically operate as an agency in South Gloucestershire, but our involvement ensures that the council is at the forefront of any new developments in the sector.'

The most disturbing thing is that Pacey will now 'advise' the govt on the agency model...Why? they had the opportunity to participate at the Task and Finish Group as observers but did not take it so now they will ensure the agencies set up the right model?

17-12-2013, 12:32 AM
Alot of cm's choose this as a career as it fits in around family life.
I like to have one day off a week, I'm slowly changing my finish time to 4ish (I am willing to start at 7) but would an agency be happy with that? I also have to fit drop off and collections around my own kids school run what will agencies make of that?
The paperwork that most cm's feel that bog them down is learning journals/observations - we will still have to do that but will agencies stipulate what format it has to be in.
I can't see nurseries reducing their fees to compete with cm agencies and most nurseries charge more than cm's!!
So I can't see it reducing costs, agencies will be a buisness and will want to make a profit!