RATIOS versus AGENCIES...what worries you most?
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    Simona Guest

    Default RATIOS versus AGENCIES...what worries you most?

    I feel the ratio debate is taking over from the agency threat as the latter is certainly taking second place...this worries me a great deal

    RATIOS
    At present cms are taking advantage of the 'exceptional circumstances' when they judge and assess taking on more children...I believe most cms doing so find this is working for them and are complying with the EYFS12 by not exceeding 6 children under 8...right??
    There will be the odd cms who are abusing the system but this is up to the DfE and Ofsted to address and it could be done in a simple accountable way...

    Preschools and nurseries already have the choice to increase their numbers if they employ a 'graduate' but apparently they are not taking advantage of this...this bothers Truss a lot and it was also reflected in the ratio consultation as a question...

    so we have a reform of the qualifications in order to take on more children...how long will that take?? and why exclede cms from getting a level 3 as it is still voluntary??
    also Truss has stated 'we will grant the higher ratios'...does she mean DfE or Ofsted?? she wants us to be independent in making decisions but that does not sound like giving us more flexibility to choose...right??

    My understanding is that Truss is proposing cms look after 4 children under 5...2 being babies...what is the difference between this and what we already do???


    AGENCIES
    This is a minefield because we are totally in the dark who is setting them up, who they are, how they will be inspected, how they will monitor cms quality and so on and on
    So until we get a firm response we will go on speculating but one thing is clear: the huge majority of cms are against agencies and pledging to stay independent...right??

    Enter 'Childcare hubs' ...we do not have all the information but it looks like they will be recruiting new cms...in areas of need...to develop a new childcare model..that word pops up too often!
    According to 4Children this is already in existence...did you know about this?

    (All statements in brackets are taken from the National Prospectus Grant so I am quoting)

    Grants have been provided by the DfE to 4 Children 'bring together daycare and cms to develop a financially sustainable model for a more flexible childcare offer'
    I was also informed this includes recruiting 800 new cms
    Lots to read in this...sustainable model?...could be an agency model that needs to sustain itself as agencies are not funded by the DfE...so why the initial grant and why take this away from LAs who have always recruited new cms??

    Action for Children is given the grant to 'support recruitment, start up and training of 630 new cms to help meet demand for free childcare entitlement (I feel this should read 'subsidised free childcare' by the provider??)
    So these unemployed mothers will be recruited as cms...come off benefits and then subsidise free childcare??

    So here we have new cms going straight into funding 2,3 and 4 year olds maybe??? how can they be when we still fight some of our LAs for inclusion???
    Will they claim from September 2013 and if so, how can they become high quality so quickly...or...are they being prepared for 2014 for the 2nd influx of 2 year olds??

    Barnardos are given money to 'improve the availability and flexibility of high quality childcare and increase parental employment'
    We now know that ncma has withdrawn from this scheme, apparently because there was an issue with the 'agency' being involved

    NCB have been given money for 3 projects one being 'develop accredited training routes for practitioners using a multi-media approach with a focus on supporting 2 year olds'

    We know that ncma is involved with NCB and Action for Children but have no details as yet

    From what we understand new cms have to be registered with an agency in future...right??
    So is ncma involved in recruiting new cms who will have no option but to register with an agency?
    who will the agency be? the CCentre?

    While this news came out last week we also heard often the word 'childcare hubs'...what are they?
    are they what Sue Gregory has been pushing for when she said she wanted cms to be working in CCentres??
    what is the difference between an agency and a childcare hub?

    One worry for me is how will independent cms advertise their vacancies?...will parents have any choice or will they be directed to CCentres and childcare hubs??

    In the meantime ratios are the buzz word...I get very frustrated because I feel agencies should be alongside ratios
    Everyone seemed to get excited that Cameron may be rethinking on ratios but no one is rethinking on agencies...or are they?
    I really think we are taking our eyes off agencies and there are appearing in various models...

    someone tweeted the other day that ratios rethink is a 'foot in the doo'r and agencies will follow...are you sure??
    I am not convinced because, in my view and it is my view, ratios will be put in the new EYFS 13 (I bet that will withdrawn from the website in August to be reformed with ratios changed when republished)

    Also ratios do not require any money spent on them ...it is just a question of changing the EYFS again but agencies or childcare hubs are being funded now and the projects starting already

    For me ratios were never threat but agencies are...in all current campaigns 'agencies' seem to be an 'add on' rather than running side by side with ratios...right??

    So many unanswered questions!!

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    Definitely agencies worry me most. As you say there is a system in place for childminders to go over their numbers for continuity of care anyway so this change in ratios will just make it easier to do so. I do not want to join an agency. I am more than capable of advertising, sorting out training and generally running my own business, I don't need any outside interference!

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    for me it is the agencies that I am most worried about simply because there are so many unanswered questions and I fear a two tiered system with independent childminders having difficulty accessing funding/training, with the ratios I can choose not to increase just as I do now on some days and although we are told we can choose to be independent I just wonder how long for.

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    Agencies, without a doubt, worry me most xxx

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    Simona Guest

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    In all my wordy reflection I left out something very important...COST!!
    not just how much will it cost to be an agency cm but how much to remain independent???

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    they both worry me tbh.

    ratios - well given blanket permission for extra children is NOT going to reduce costs for one. However, the current system is also open to huge abuse and with a bit of creative paperwork and juggling of days initially for a child who is new business a cm could potentially have 6 children under 5, or under 3 or 2 for that matter. That is scary.

    I think the other thing is if blanket permission for 4 under 5's what is the situation then for variations (within the 6 under 8's). How much scope will minders have to jiggle around - could they potentially mind 4 x 1 year olds??

    All not good in my opinion.


    agencies, well we can all remain as independent as we like but as new CM's come through and are "forced" to register through agencies, then eventually us independent minders will be the minority and as we (sadly) age and retire there will eventually be a UK set up of agency only. yes this is a long way off but sadly I see it will happen.
    Unless the pilots go awfully (let's hope) and they abandon the idea altogether. Sadly, I think this is not the case because what the Gov't really want is to save pots of money by getting rid of all the LA support and having private compnaies providing what the LA's now do.

    I know this is a very cynical view. I'm sadly leaving minding myself but I WILL remain a very close part of my local children's centre. I'm on the Advisory Board there and we are very supportive to local minders. We provide free workshops at present. I would plan even in my new job to be able to continue to provide these workshops. Eventually if children's centres do become part of providing the types of services proposed by the agency model I would fight to see ours provide a minimal fee/free service to minders offering reasonably priced /subsidised or free courses for minders instead of those they got from the EY teams before. The CC is perfectly placed to help local CM's self run a local finding/meeting service for minders and parents and this is something else I will be fighting for.

    I think for independent CM's if they can harness a good local cc to help them run independently and use their resources to support themselves then this is def. the way to go.
    if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got

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    ratios do not worry me, i currently work to 4 under 4 on a frequent basis. however, this is with known children, i would be wary of new business, but think i have the experience to know if it is going towork, and to deal with the situation. the only slight worry i have is- if blanket 4 under 5 ratio... what about 'variations' if we then need to offer continuity of care etc


    agencies worry me, mainly because we don't know ANYTHING!

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    Definitely agencies. I don't believe we will have an option to join agencies for long. They will either become compulsory or they will make our life so difficult (training etc) that we will have no choice but to join an agency. In which case, if we have to give a percentage of our earnings to an agency, we will need the change in ratios to maintain our current earnings.

    Cathy x.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Juggler View Post
    they both worry me tbh.

    ratios - well given blanket permission for extra children is NOT going to reduce costs for one. However, the current system is also open to huge abuse and with a bit of creative paperwork and juggling of days initially for a child who is new business a cm could potentially have 6 children under 5, or under 3 or 2 for that matter. That is scary.

    I think the other thing is if blanket permission for 4 under 5's what is the situation then for variations (within the 6 under 8's). How much scope will minders have to jiggle around - could they potentially mind 4 x 1 year olds??

    All not good in my opinion.


    agencies, well we can all remain as independent as we like but as new CM's come through and are "forced" to register through agencies, then eventually us independent minders will be the minority and as we (sadly) age and retire there will eventually be a UK set up of agency only. yes this is a long way off but sadly I see it will happen.
    Unless the pilots go awfully (let's hope) and they abandon the idea altogether. Sadly, I think this is not the case because what the Gov't really want is to save pots of money by getting rid of all the LA support and having private compnaies providing what the LA's now do.

    I know this is a very cynical view. I'm sadly leaving minding myself but I WILL remain a very close part of my local children's centre. I'm on the Advisory Board there and we are very supportive to local minders. We provide free workshops at present. I would plan even in my new job to be able to continue to provide these workshops. Eventually if children's centres do become part of providing the types of services proposed by the agency model I would fight to see ours provide a minimal fee/free service to minders offering reasonably priced /subsidised or free courses for minders instead of those they got from the EY teams before. The CC is perfectly placed to help local CM's self run a local finding/meeting service for minders and parents and this is something else I will be fighting for.

    I think for independent CM's if they can harness a good local cc to help them run independently and use their resources to support themselves then this is def. the way to go.
    Pretty much all of this ^

    I am worried about the future costs of indpendence; How much will an individual inspection cost when they can say "Well, you have the choice to join an agency if you don't want to pay..."

    I am lucky in that my LA has a really good early years team and brilliant children's centres and I think that between them they will come up with a way to make this have as little negative impact as possible on children and CMs, but I know this is not the case in lots of places and it is ALL JUST SO WRONG. Especially the way they are trying to pretend that it is for the good of children and families, when actually the only thing they care about is saving money for government.
    Last edited by lisbet; 19-05-2013 at 12:48 PM.

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    I am concerned about both -

    Ratios - because I want to remain sustainable and there simply aren't enough children to go round if nurseries can have 2 more 2 year olds and all childminders decide to increase their quota of children too.

    Plus I am very worried about the children - educational outcomes for children and safety / health / safeguarding / wellbeing etc if they are shoehorned into little rooms 6 to one adult in a nursery or even 4 to one adult in a small house. Yes I can cope with 4 children I know for short times - but not everyone and to make it a blanket permission worries me a great deal.

    Agencies - I have decided that I am not going to worry about them any more because I have to focus on my future and the futures of thousands of other childminders who rely on the forum for help and advice. They want to stay independent so we need to get the right infrastructure in place to support them.

    All my agency fears are detailed in our response to the MGC plan - http://www.childmindinghelp.co.uk/Resources/mgc.pdf - they haven't changed - but my outlook has!


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    Agencies worry me the most - the secretiveness and drip-feed of information makes me very suspicious of what the Government are planning for us. I thought new childminders would also have the choice of belonging to an agency or not - if this isn't the case then, as has been said, eventually independent childminders will be very much the minority - especially with all the recruiting that is going to happen. Then I fear it will be extremely hard to sustain my business. However, I do remember reading, I think, that childminders will be able to leave agencies should they wish to do so - hopefully new childminders may realise that it will be to their advantage to become independent - in which case we may not be in the minority. We will need to publicise the benefits of being an independent childminder so that they know what they are missing!

    I definitely do not want to belong to an agency - I am capable of running my own business and will resent someone being in charge of me and, to all intents and purposes, telling me what to do when I am working in my own home!

    Ratios are a concern - but this is receiving a lot of publicity whereas agencies, as they only affect childminders, haven't.

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    Agencies yes. They might even make me leave childminding and I never thought I would do that until I chose to.

    I have no concern whatever about increased ratios for childminders.

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    Agencies on a personal level. I am worried for children who may be affected by higher ratios although I fell (hope) that many providers will choose not to increase or to increase dependent on the children they have rather than just for money.
    I am really concerned about agencies, there seems to be no hard information but it is obvious it is being forced through and I feel the changes will affect us all.

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    Agencies were really worrying me but my LA recently hinted that they are looking into the possiblity of turning the existing childminding network into an agency. This I could definitely live with as it doesn't seem like such a scary prospect at all. I'm not sure how exactly they would fund it, so the cost implications do still worry me!

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    Proposed changes to ratios don't worry me at all. I have 4 under 5s most days. The oldest is 3. I have had 5 under 5 for a short time (again, oldest was 3) and while I could manage it for a short time, I know I wouldn't to do that for any longer than a couple of hours on rare occasions. I will work within my limits and hope others will do the same. I know there are some who won't, just as there are now. I can't worry about those childminders who take on more than they are capable of handling. There comes a point when you have to look after your own business and let other look after theirs.
    I am fortunate to be in an area where there is a high demand for childminders. With the 2yr funding coming into force, there are going to be even more parents looking for childminders. By being allowed to have 4 children everyday it would mean I only need to work 4 days a week, so I'd welcome the changes.

    Agencies themselves don't overly concern me at the moment as I have no plans to join one. I'm actually interested to see how they will work, although of course that's the difficulty at the moment - we have no real information. I'm also interested to hear more about these hubs. I'm wondering if they're a watered down agency, a sneaky compromise as Truss knows agencies are not proving popular. The way hubs are being sold to us is that they offer all the 'advantages' of an agency, without any talk of fees & deregulation. I wouldn't necessarily rule out using a hub, if they offer training for independent childminders. Maybe that's where we'll get out training from. Who knows?

    To be completely honest, none of it really worries me at the moment. My work nearly all comes through word of mouth & I expect that to continue. I can't see parents wanting to pay an agency to find them childcare when they can ask a friend who they used. If It happened somewhere down the line that agencies became compulsory (or forced) I would fight them, but for now I'll play the waiting game.

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    Has to be agencies. I've been on maternity leave for the past year and OMG what a lot to now go through. Revised eyfs, agencies and ratios. Still playing catch up.

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    I am less concerned about the ratio issue but would agree with most others that the agency issue give me great concern for a variety of reasons including:
    - cost of remaining independent
    - possibility of two tier system
    - lack of clarity as to what it will look like
    - how they will work alongside independent childminders
    - how they can access the LA funding for 2,3& 4 year olds when there have been such strict criteria for those of us who have joined the network

    The only saving grace at the moment is that so many other childminders simply don't want to join an agency and at our last network meeting (prior to losing our DO) we joked about setting up our own agency if needs must and I can see that coming and wonder if that is what they want so that the Local Authority has less control and reduces cost for them.

    Sam x

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    Agencies, hubs or whatever the Govt choose to call them are my main concern. I know we're being told we don't have to join one and I've yet to meet a childminder who says they would join one but nowhere have I seen any information about how much it will cost to remain independent. I just wonder if we will be able to afford to be independent.

    Ratios don't bother me as much because I can choose whether to increase my numbers or not. I do think the Govt is wrong if they think increased ratios means lower costs to parents.

    Miffy xx
    Keep smiling!

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    This article makes a convincing argument for being concerned about ratio changes -

    Quality care hangs in the balance | Nursery World

  24. #20
    Simona Guest

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    The ratio proposed for nurseries and preschools do worry me, especially caring for 4 babies, and the article makes a powerful argument why it should be challenged, however, I do not think that Truss will change her mind but you never know....miracles take a bit longer but do happen!!
    I wonder how those nurseries who may choose to increase their numbers will cope if they have a CCTV system in place where parents can look at what goes on during the day???

    I feel that most of the replies in this thread apply to cms ratios...indeed many cms have stated they are already looking after more than 3 children and coping well ..the worry is that it is not something that can be well supervised as we know many cms may take advantage and look after many children all the time for money rather than by competence...

 

 
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