Childminders and agencies - some thoughts
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  1. #1
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    Default Childminders and agencies - some thoughts

    Some of the questions are mine... some have been suggested by other childminders on here, on FB and privately... all are, I believe, very valid.

    I know it's 4 pages long and we all work very hard but please take time to read through the questions and come back with other suggestions.

    We have a very powerful lobby here guys! The huge success of the petition has told us that

    The Childminding Forum has given us assurances that we will receive support for whatever we want to do next to protect our businesses

    So let's get planning
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    My questions.

    Where is the money coming from to set up these agencies?

    If the agency (taking random numbers here) has 20 minders on its books and only 10 have work due to depressed ecomonic climate - will the other 10 subsidise the others?

    If a minder had a complaint made against them (safeguarding for example) and it was upheld would the entire agency be held accountable?
    When someone tells you nothing is impossible, tell them to go slam a revolving door

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    Thank you Sarah, all my concerns are raised here, I desperately do not want to have to be part of an agency, I love the freedom of working for myself and being self employed, I don't find it a burden to advertise and do my paperwork, what I will find difficult is having to adhere to an agencies way of doing things and not having the autonomy in my own business

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    wow! sarah!

    well done! a fantastic document.

    i think you have covered every question i have!

    although, having just seen fussy elmos questions ... they need asking too!

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    Thank you Sarah for putting that together, interesting to see it that way.
    My concerns are that, will we be excluded from training courses if we are not part of the agency? Finding and booking courses is not hassle at all. In my LA there are network childminders who have completed the Quality Assurance course and can offer funded places, they are offered training that is not available to non-network minders. I just see the agency model being the same

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    I wonder if we are part of an agency, how much freedom we will have to do activities that we want to do? Or will activities be dictated to us?

    The fees I charge include food, drink, snacks and all outings i.e. playgroups, farms, zoo's, aquariums etc, however, if we have to give a percentage of earnings to agencies then I will not be able to offer this any more. which would be such ashame.

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  11. #7
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    That is brilliant Sarah - so many questions which need answers.

    How can all these different bodies be equipped to set up agencies, with no idea how a childminding business is run - (apart from childminders setting one up) and presumably for profit. Surely there is going to need to be an awful lot of Government funding needed to initially set them up - how can this be saving money?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarah707 View Post
    Some of the questions are mine... some have been suggested by other childminders on here, on FB and privately... all are, I believe, very valid.

    I know it's 4 pages long and we all work very hard but please take time to read through the questions and come back with other suggestions.

    We have a very powerful lobby here guys! The huge success of the petition has told us that

    The Childminding Forum has given us assurances that we will receive support for whatever we want to do next to protect our businesses

    So let's get planning
    More questions, sorry Sarah

    Presumably the agency would be graded (if indeed they will be or will they just be inspected and assessed?) on the quality of training and support they are providing and not on the care that each childminder in the agency provides? It will be the agencies role to assess and maybe grade each childminder on their books?

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    Great document Sarah.

    What I was wondering is that, are we only going to be allowed to join one agency? I was just thinking if they are going to be responsible for 'giving out the vacancies' so to speak, if there were more than one agency in our area, surely we would be better to join them all!! We'd also get to access lots of training (in theory!) Also are agencies going to be able to 'pick and choose' which childminders they take on because afterall if the grading of the agency is affected by the c/m members, its going to be in their interest to be able to. You have already covered my concern about just how much say they are going to have in the way we run our businesses and I can't see how it will cut down on paperwork. Surely if you are having to put everything you do through an agency, that's going to generate more not less paperwork. And how are they going to cover admin tasks such as registration and insurance. These generally involve phoning up to make payment, are we supposed to give them free reign over our credit cards too!! At the end of the day the money had to come directly from us so where is the difference whether we pay an agency or the organisation direct. The document also talks about agencies not being compulsory but potentially beneficial to rural areas where support is lacking. Isn't the whole reason support is lacking in these areas because there probably aren't enough c/ms to justify the cost to local authorities. Aren't agencies going to face the same issues and won't they focus on areas where there are lots of c/ms to generate them lots of money. And on the subject of cost, how much is it going to cost us to join agencies. Agencies are not going to be cheap to run, you only have to consider the cost of paying agency staff to work out that it's going to be expensive. Is the govt. going to set a cap on the percentage of our earning agencies can demand?

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    Thank you Sarah all my concerns have been covered

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    What happens if we join the agency and feel its not for us, can we go independent again?
    What happens if there is a clash of personalities or whatever.

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    Presumably these agencies are going to be looking to make money. Even if they're non-profit making they're still going to have to cover costs. What if they become a failing business & close down? What protection will there be for the childminders who have joined?

    How many of these agencies are there expected to be? What if you did want to join one & there wasn't one close by?

    What if the agency is linked to a school or nursery that is only open term times? Will they only offer a term time work for childminders?

    Will Ofsted inspections still be available online for all childminders, or just the independent ones? If agency minders are "inspected" by their agent, will there be written reports for parents to see, or will they just have to take the agents word that the childminder is suitable?

    Will parents have to be exclusive to one agency? What if they sign up, use an agency chilminder, but want to use someone who is not with the agency for holiday cover? Will they be allowed to do that?

    What if agencies are so successful that all the childminders who sign up are completely full? How would it work then if they are promising to find alternative care when the childminder is off sick? What if there is no alternative care available?

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    I know this "agency" idea has come from something similar they do it Holland - however I know from having relatives in Denmark that they use a similar model - my uncle is always amazed that I have to buy my own toys and that the parents pay me direct.

    My concern is that in Denmark - all childcare for the under 3's is with childminders and then children have to move onto kindergarten - so they don't have babies in Nurseries (which I agree with), but then childminders only look after the under 3's (which I don't agree with). I hope the UK doesn't insist that children over a certain age have to be in nursery. I think the behaviour in schools can be linked with children not spending enough time in a nurturing environment ie: at home or with childminders.

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    The previous posts have covered most of what I agree with/would have asked.

    Big worry for me is not being my own boss and being able to "wing it" if a child's comment or interest takes us off on a tangent from what was "planned" for the day.
    i think I'm too old to have someone telling me what to do, and the agencies may well be run in that way.

    A great concern for me is that when we have prospective parents bring their los to see us for that first time, we all make judgements.
    We look and listen to the parent and think "Hmmm this parent could be a problem " or the child may be jumping on your coffee table and swinging from your curtains and you're thinking " Parent has no boundaries in place, child is going to be a nightmare, is this going to be for me - I think not!" or the parent looks you up and down and can't envisage handing their precious little cargo to you as you have paint and pva on your jumper and glitter in your hair 'cos you've just been making Valentine's cards while you waited for them to come.
    Either way, we all make gut instinct decisions about whether we're all going to gel or not.
    An agency may be cutting out the middle man to the extent that, rather like belonging to a Temp Agency, you get a phone call saying - NO - telling you, that they've taken Mrs Blogs and her child on and you just have to be grateful for what you're given.
    No free choice at all.

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    Just had another thought, what if after your 4 weeks settling in period, or even 6 months down the line you decide that youre giving a family Notice - and the Agency tell you that if you do you may jeopardise your chances of being given new work.

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    Those of us who childminded before FIS - when someone in the childminding group handed out names and phone numbers, will have experienced that the person handing out the details, used to take the children she wanted and then pass on anything else. How can we be sure that the Nurseries won't just pass on work when they have no free spaces, or pass on the akward children/parents/hours.

    Also I worry that it could end up like American restaurants - where the waiters have to pay the restaurant for the best tables and they then get sent more work.

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    If the agency is run from a nursery or children's centre will we still be offered training on evenings and weekends out of our normal working hours as most nursery workers attend their training I. Work hours as they have cover or they have teacher training days where the nursery closes which is not feasible for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue bear View Post
    If the agency is run from a nursery or children's centre will we still be offered training on evenings and weekends out of our normal working hours as most nursery workers attend their training I. Work hours as they have cover or they have teacher training days where the nursery closes which is not feasible for us.
    I just object to the whole idea of nurseries overseeing us. Isn't it blatently obvious there will be a conflict of interest, aside it implying they are better than us What's to stop a nursery setting up an agency and then running it so poorly it gives childminders a bad reputation? We are their competitors, you can't have a competitor overseeing a competitor!!

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    Thank you once again Sarah!
    Blaze x

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    More questions which came to me in the middle of the night that I will add into the document - plus all of yours from the previous posts -

    Has the government carried out a sufficiency audit through the country and determined that there is a need for new childminders to be recruited to fill the agencies?

    Where does the government think the extra children are going to be found to fill the extra nursery spaces and allow all the new childminders which the agencies will be recruiting to earn a decent standard of living?

    From where will all the new childminders be recruited to make the agencies self sufficient?

    To whom will childminders complain if their agency is under performing? Few childminders have confidence that Ofsted will have sufficient resources, manpower or time to support them.

    In general, nurseries have an appalling record of working in partnership with childminders. If nurseries become agencies do the government really think this is going to change?


    Thank you guys - keep them coming!

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