Agency information...
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  1. #1
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    Default Agency information...

    This information has been provided by a member of the Independent Childminders Facebook group who was invited to an early years focus group with two government employees during the summer and given the opportunity to pass her questions and concerns to the team leader of the childminder agency project.

    She says - today I had a telephone conversation with him and wanted to let you know the outcome. I hope you find is useful...

    Hi, Just to let you know I had a telephone conversation with David, the Childminder Agency Project Team Leader today. I can report he is a very nice man but as expected could give little or no real answers to my questions.

    Below I have listed some of the key points discussed;

    Presently there are no agencies up and running as they were only able to apply from September so they are currently in the process of being assessed by Ofsted. However I did get the impression there weren't many in the pipeline (I recall the term 'slow burner' being used). Interestingly the framework for inspection isn't yet in place which means Ofsted can't yet inspect them, but they are hoping this will be in place by the end of the year!!! He was able to see the irony of this but blamed the need to pass things through the House etc.

    If a childminder joins an agency they give up their individual registration status and will be inspected by the agency who will in turn be inspected by Ofsted (when the framework has been written up!). Ofsted will inspect a selection of childminders within the agency, as expected. If a childminder wants to leave the agency and become independent they will have to go through the process of registration again (and pay for that themselves) which potentially means DBS check, medical and training - although he couldn't say for definite as it may be that Ofsted could over rule this. However it does leave childminders facing substantial costs to re-gain their independence if they aren't happy with the agency. He couldn't see that this was a way to 'trap' childminders in a system they didn't want to be a part of, we agreed to disagree about the term 'trapped'!

    He couldn't say how much training and support independent childminders would receive but admitted it would probably be less than present.

    There is no limit to how many childminders each agency can take on. This will be monitored by Ofsted, but potentially an agency could take on unlimited numbers.

    I asked about the implication of being employed by the agency (inferred in the Liz Truss letter) and this is obviously a strong possibility. He spoke in some detail about the security of being employed, having NI paid for etc. I pointed out that childminders are self-employed and this wouldn't work. I feel it is a strong possibility that this is the real intention of agencies as I don't really see any other way for them to make any money unless they encourage childminders to become employed, pay them the minimum wage and take the lions share of the money for themselves.

    I asked many other questions that he couldn't really answer - I got the usual 'it depends on each individual agency' response. I made it quite clear that this answer caused great concern within the childminder community as it seems to be the standard response to brush us off, which in turns leads us to distrust those being questioned and the hidden agenda behind agencies.

    I asked whether he thought it would ever be compulsory to join agencies and he couldn't answer, but didn't rule it out. I made it quite clear that if that ever happened they would face a revolution!

    So that's pretty much as far as I've got. The conversation lasted over an hour but as I've already said he couldn't really answer many of my questions - which I pointed out was worrying in itself!

    There will be no press release about how agencies are going. Their numbers and eventual inspection reports will be available on the Ofsted website, which they hope will eventually have its own tab when someone searches childcare provisions!

    So I suppose we need to see what sort of uptake agencies have. They are obviously hoping new childminders will use them as a one stop shop solution as they make support and training more difficult to access elsewhere. So that's all I have to report.

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    Thanks for sharing on here Sarah.

    We still don't seem to be learning anything new...well, anything at all really

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    I have heard on the grapevine that only 3 or 4 'groups' have, so far, applied to be agencies - nationwide! Which is not the result they were expecting.

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    Thanks for sharing, Sarah and thanks to the ICFB group member for talking to the agency team leader

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    St Bede's Academy is the one agency who has been confirmed...they now need to apply for registration and that will take 16 weeks
    Others are putting a model together and being very open about this...we have heard little from Home childcare...Riverside and those in the trials...many LAs have withdrawn because it is not practical at the moment


    The DfE is leading but the agency itself can decide on which model suits them best and entirely their decision until they submit proposals
    CMs who intend to start a business even if they are in an agency can still apply for the DfE grant as can the agency I think...grey area this.
    Employed or self employed?...the agency will decide on that status


    Training will be provided by an agency and charged like all other cms they will need to pay for it
    Support...the consultation on this and DfE response on this stated 15 hours of CPD

    I am relieved that so much of the speculation seems to have died but keep your ears open at all times from sources like 4 Children...they were giving the latest news on agencies yesterday at a conference

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    I'm curious to know if anyone can answer these 2 questions:-

    1. What is the definition of an agency? This may sound obvious, but this came up at our children's centre, in relation to them passing on details of CMs to parents. What about a CM group which offers a vacancy secretary or vacancies system, say through a group website?

    2. OK, so a CM gives up their individual registration when they join an agency. So how quickly and easily can they get it back? What if things don't work out: they don't get enough work through the agency; feel mistreated; want to be properly self-employed or the agency goes bust - a serious possibility, given that the agency model is pretty much untried in the UK.

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    Sue Robb from 4 children attended my local authority childminders information evening a couple of weeks ago to discuss agencies. As you can imagine there was plenty of anticipation and more than the usual turnout of childminders. However, the first part of the presentation related to the two year old offer! I think many of us found that frustrating because we have lots of information about that already. Anyway when finally the agency issue was addressed, there was nothing new and certain things couldn't be shared such as the names of those who have submitted applications but we were told there were five. Apparently several telephone enquiries are coming in each day and Sue is dealing with the applications. The general message being portrayed was in local authorities who offer lots of support to childminders then probably no need for agencies. So that could be slightly worrying if LAs are still struggling with cut backs and redundancies.
    Unfortunately the meeting was cut short as Sue Robb had a train to catch, quite a few childminders stayed behind chatting and not one of them was in favour

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    Thanks to the ICFB member for sharing

    Whilst I am, in a way, pleased that there is little confirmation from any of the proposed agencies, it is also concerning that a new business model is unable to confirm very much about their business or how it will be run!

    For those minders that have been following this whole saga, I don't think we have as much to fear as we thought (at least, not yet), so maybe they'll target new minders, that are not as well informed or confident about what they're doing, and are nervous of the thought of self employment with all that it entails....

    Still not time to relax just yet, but certainly heading in the right direction

  12. #9
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    Smiley...it sounds like Sue Robb gave the same presentation as we received months ago and where she was unable to answer questions from some very well informed CMs. I provided feedback on that
    Did she give you a Power Point presentation?

    She did also talk about 2 year olds ...of course she needs to push that agenda
    I am not sure who the application has to be sent to...but I would say Ofsted as they will be registering the agency...4 Children is the 'agent' of the DfE and agencies themselves...a middleman who gets lots of funding for doing so.

    LAs becoming an agency?...yes she covered that too and made it sound a good choice for cms
    at the very same meeting our EY team announced they want to become an agency, have surveyed us and parents and we now await the result

    Bunyip....What is an agency?: an Ofsted registered body that will take over the basic function of registering and inspecting CMs via their individual system...although some cms will still be picked for an inspection that only relates to the support received from the agency...NOT...the care provided to children...rather self defeating when safeguarding is top of the agenda
    This means a lot of money saved by Ofsted

    A group of cms or any other body that offers support and vacancy filling is not registered with Ofsted...they exist and some work very well indeed in keeping independent cms going...some even arrange for training and peer support

    The issue of cms being thrown out by an agency or looking to switch to another has been addressed by Ofsted...I am sorry I cannot recall the title of that document but will try to locate it

    These are very unclear issues and CMs need to keep raising questions and...surely... Ofsted will ensure these are embedded in a registration framework and the terms offered by an agency to potential members?

    Kiddleywinks....some are taking the Social Enterprise route and that may be an acceptable model...there is no rule on which model to follow...that is how I understand it.

    There is no clear information so every thing I still an assumption and keeping fingers crossed

    I will say this again and make no apology for the repetition...if you have an OBC in your area please feed your concerns there

  13. #10
    Simona Guest

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    I am aware that 4 Children will give some feedback on CMs agencies in a conference ...which is in November and not the one that took place yesterday as I posted
    I just received confirmation of this via twitter

    I also went on the Foundation Years website to get any info...zilch...nil...zero! so not sure what the website is for if 4 Children have to share info at conferences ...which few can attend as they are prohibitive

    They do have several documents there we can read on agencies...and one deals with disqualification of a cms from an agency
    hope this helps

    Childminding | From pregnancy to children aged 5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simona View Post
    Smiley...it sounds like Sue Robb gave the same presentation as we received months ago and where she was unable to answer questions from some very well informed CMs. I provided feedback on that
    Did she give you a Power Point presentation?

    She did also talk about 2 year olds ...of course she needs to push that agenda
    I am not sure who the application has to be sent to...but I would say Ofsted as they will be registering the agency...4 Children is the 'agent' of the DfE and agencies themselves...a middleman who gets lots of funding for doing so.

    LAs becoming an agency?...yes she covered that too and made it sound a good choice for cms
    at the very same meeting our EY team announced they want to become an agency, have surveyed us and parents and we now await the result

    Bunyip....What is an agency?: an Ofsted registered body that will take over the basic function of registering and inspecting CMs via their individual system...although some cms will still be picked for an inspection that only relates to the support received from the agency...NOT...the care provided to children...rather self defeating when safeguarding is top of the agenda
    This means a lot of money saved by Ofsted

    A group of cms or any other body that offers support and vacancy filling is not registered with Ofsted...they exist and some work very well indeed in keeping independent cms going...some even arrange for training and peer support

    The issue of cms being thrown out by an agency or looking to switch to another has been addressed by Ofsted...I am sorry I cannot recall the title of that document but will try to locate it

    These are very unclear issues and CMs need to keep raising questions and...surely... Ofsted will ensure these are embedded in a registration framework and the terms offered by an agency to potential members?

    Kiddleywinks....some are taking the Social Enterprise route and that may be an acceptable model...there is no rule on which model to follow...that is how I understand it.

    There is no clear information so every thing I still an assumption and keeping fingers crossed

    I will say this again and make no apology for the repetition...if you have an OBC in your area please feed your concerns there


    Interesting. I live in Hertfordshire, a big County with some 1800 childminders at present. We have just been told that having done extensive research and costings that the EY Dept will not be setting up an Agency. They estimated they would have to charge cm at least £81 per month to provide the required min CPD, First Aid, Child Protection Training and two other Training's a year and inspection and support. They decided this was far too much for cm to pay and have decided there is no need for an Agency in Herts. They will continue to support us as they are at present.

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    I must say I am not a fan of 4 Children I feel they have sold childminding down the river and all they want to do is make money out of the Agency system when they show absolutely no understanding of how Childminders work, why they are a good option for many children or why parents choose us for their care rather than use a Nursery.

  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickysmiths View Post
    I must say I am not a fan of 4 Children I feel they have sold childminding down the river and all they want to do is make money out of the Agency system when they show absolutely no understanding of how Childminders work, why they are a good option for many children or why parents choose us for their care rather than use a Nursery.
    Not a fan?.....Who is??

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    We have been offered an option of bronze, silver or gold membership in Swindon. Every childminder will be supported no matter what.
    Debbie

  20. #15
    Simona Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chatterbox Childcare View Post
    We have been offered an option of bronze, silver or gold membership in Swindon. Every childminder will be supported no matter what.
    Can you clarify who has offered cms the 3 options of membership you mention?
    The 3 tiers may mean a charge at different levels of support maybe?

  21. #16
    Simona Guest

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    In the OP there is a statement that at the moment 'there are no agencies' up and running

    I commented that St Bede's Academy is one of those confirmed as wanting to register
    Our understanding is that agencies would start the registration process from 1 Sept and it would take 16 weeks...apparently not as you can clearly see St Bede's has already been registered

    Ofsted | St Bede Childminder Agency

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    Well they were Mrs Truss's baby of excellence.

    If they are the only Agency to set up then it isn't as if Ofsted have been inundated with requests and so can't keep up with the dozens and dozens of applications so it won't take long will it. St Bede's was ready to go having been in a trial and give accolades by the dear Mrs Truss.

    What would be really interesting to hear is are there any cms on here near St Bede's, are they considering joining, how much will it cost if they do?

    Also lets see how successful it is in six months and how many cm they have on their books?

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    Could we by any chance be suggesting that all the £££££ public money £££££ spent on the legislative process and regulatory changes has been a complete waste, and it would have been better spent in continuing the sort of LA support and training that was pulled because agencies were going to take on that role?

    How convenient that The Truss Woman has swapped offices and is therefore unlikely to be asked to resign over this debacle.

    Nice to see parliamentary democracy working so well.

    ..............and people ask me why I'm an anarcho-syndicalist.

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    I see on the MM newsletter that Ofsted will be taking over the reinspection of inadequate childminders and nurseries.

    Worryingly, it states that new minders will now be inspected at the 30 month mark rather than the current 7 months.

  25. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by k1rstie View Post
    I see on the MM newsletter that Ofsted will be taking over the reinspection of inadequate childminders and nurseries.

    Worryingly, it states that new minders will now be inspected at the 30 month mark rather than the current 7 months.
    Unless there has been a U Turn the inspection of RI settings will be taken back in-house by Ofsted ...but it is for nurseries and preschools and not cms.

    In the same article on 26 Sept Nick Hudson also announced 1st inspection will be at 30 months not 7...I understand it is for all settings not just cms

    Ofsted brings 'requires improvement' inspections in-house | Nursery World

 

 
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