Soon to be registered CM with an agency!
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    Default Soon to be registered CM with an agency!

    Hello there. Apologies if this is in the wrong place. My name is Emma and as the title suggests I am awaiting my registration visit to become a Childminder.

    I thought I would join the forum to make friends and hopefully gain some valuable advice from those already in the know. However I've not read everything indepth but from what I've seen I'm becoming increasingly nervous. You see I will be the first childminder to register on @homechildcare childminder agency's books. There seems to be a lot of negativity towards agencies. I am wondering, am I going to be seen as an outsider?

    I hope not, I am so very excited about my chosen business venture and also nervous that I can make it a success. As far as I can tell I have done every step of the process that any 'independent' CM has and I'm waiting anxiously to be inspected.

    So please tell me... Am I welcome?

    I look forward to making new friends 😊

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    Hi all childminders are welcome here on the Childminding Forum - agency and independent.

    Personally I have spent the last year and a bit working incredibly hard to offer support and help to childminders so they don't need to join agencies ... I'm not, as you might guess, their biggest fan.

    But each to their own. I am sure you have made the right decision for you

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    welcome to the wonderful world of childminding

    I have been a childminder for a long time, and in childcare all my working life, so I'm not in need of an agency to support me, and again, I'm not in favour of them, but I can see how they could be useful to a newly registering/registered childminder.

    It would be interesting to hear how they have supported you in the process of becoming a childminder, and how they will continue to support you. Out of pure curiosity, will you be inspected by Ofsted or the Agency in order to become a childminder?

    best wishes xx

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    Ooh do tell from start to now what was the process like, what did it involve, what's the cost, what do you get for your money? Or maybe just tell us what you would like about the process. I'd really like to know, not because I ever intend to join an agency but it would be nice to be informed when asked questions from potential minder who have the choice to make if tat makes sense.

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    Phewph! Thank you for being welcoming, it's a relief. I feel so very anxious at the moment. So it's nice to think there are people I can talk to who have been through this already.

    As for doing the right thing... Honestly I still don't know. I didn't know about agencies until I went for my training at @homechildcare. They were just going through the process of becoming an agency and so after the childminder training it was pitched to us. All of the soon to be childminders on the course I was on weren't impressed but I started to do some research. In the end this is what I thought:

    I like the fact that I could pick up the phone or email and have someone help me with anything.

    Getting registered is a lot quicker with an agency.

    I can be graded straight away so don't have to wait so long to take funded children on.

    I am given my own personal mentor who will help me with anything and is guaranteed to visit 3 times in be first year.

    I have the use of EYFS software which will help with the documentation of children's learning and also gives parents some reassurance that this is monitored.

    I am inspected yearly.

    I understand that you maybe thinking why would you want so much interference? However I have spoken at length with the agency about this and they assure me that they do not interfere with my paperwork, I am free to do my own planning, I can have as little involvement or as much from them as I want. In short I do not work for them but they are a support network for me and a direct access to CPD and also someone keeping an eye on the quality of childcare I am providing. Why would I not want that? Surely parents will love that too? I am passionate about childcare, I want to offer the very best and if there is someone there to help me get to that 'outstanding' grade and stay there year to year then I'm all for it.

    I will be inspected by the agency but the agency itself is inspected by Ofsted so I have been told its exactly the same. In fact so far the trainers on the course that I have seen are Ofsted inspectors. They are under so much scrutiny that they will be doing nothing short of perfect I am sure. I suppose that's why I am so nervous! That and I am putting a lot of pressure on myself!

    Yes the cost is a little more than just being registered with Ofsted in that you have to pay for each child that you have on your books (£5 per child) however I am being transparent about this and explaining to the parents about this extra cost. I know some nurseries that have started to use this software also pass the cost onto the parents so this is not a new concept at all and even with this cost I will be competitively priced.

    I hope this answers some of your questions and thank you again for being welcoming.

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    Hi Emma. I think you should think wisely before speaking about your agency too much on here.
    All existing childminders have different views on belonging to an agency or remaining independent.
    I think that you are easily identifiable by your agency, your local authority and also other childminders.
    Although, I would also like to know all the juicy details, I feel that you could end up in trouble from your agency.

    Sorry everyone, it's just my initial reaction to the post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k1rstie View Post
    Hi Emma. I think you should think wisely before speaking about your agency too much on here.
    All existing childminders have different views on belonging to an agency or remaining independent.
    I think that you are easily identifiable by your agency, your local authority and also other childminders.
    Although, I would also like to know all the juicy details, I feel that you could end up in trouble from your agency.

    Sorry everyone, it's just my initial reaction to the post.
    Why do you think it would get me in to trouble? I have been nothing but honest and I want to try and alleviate this negative stigma that agencies seem to have. Are we not all striving for the same thing... Excellence in childcare? Whether registered with Ofsted or an agency on behalf of Ofsted the outcome is the same, surely?

    Thank you for your concern though, I will certainly query this point and review my replies accordingly.

  11. #8
    Simona Guest

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    Thank you for your message Emma.

    I live in a LA where there are several Cms registered with their Agency which is called 'Leap Ahead'...so you are the first with @Homechildcare but not the 1st cm to be registered in the country....I believe over 10 are now registered with our local agency....their names and photos can be easily found on the agency website!...I even know some personally.

    This forum like many other sites/associations and so on will welcome all cms as they are opportunities to share information and support each other regardless of registration.
    Your agency will probably have a website for agency cms to share further news and support and meetings too, you will have your own contract with the agency so you know what is expected of you, the agency will have specific ways to support those who belong to the agency

    You will have read many things about CMs and their reaction/opinions on agencies
    many Cms will have fought a long battle against agencies...each in her/his own way... but in the end it is your personal choice which you made

    What really upset many cms was the 'perceived' silence regarding Cms agencies...all seemed quiet and nothing seemed to be happening but some did believe all would eventually be revealed.

    Good luck and hope you find support wherever you look for it

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    I've read your pros to wanting to be in an agency but my concern is that you have joined in its infancy. It's not tried and tested an you don't have any guarantees that it will do what it says on the tin. I personally like being Ofsted registered as my grade is my responsibility. As the agency is yet to be graded, how would you feel if the graded inspection didn't go well? Would a parent want to use the agency if it had a grading of "needs improvement" despite how good the CMs may be on their books? Sorry for the negativity as these are just my own personal opinions but they are worth consideration. Out of interest if you are not happy with the agency can you then decide to register with Ofsted instead?

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    Any cm who joins an agency will have the choice of leaving and registering with Ofsted ...that is clear in the Ofsted guidance and must be in the cms' agency contract with the agency....that was clearly spelt out to us when we met with the agency co-ordinators

    Emma...all you can do is try and test your agency m'ship...if you feel it does not work then you know you can go Ofsted registered.

    Agency have 'negative stigma' because of the reasons given below by others...the silence around them and anxiety it has caused cms....and the very reasons they were created but...who knows what is in line in future?

    All that cms want is a reassurance they will not put us on a disadvantage by remaining independent.
    I hope you feel you can share your experience here and elsewhere.

    One question if you feel up to answering...are you a member of any representing association such as PLA...were you allowed to have that choice?

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    I totally understand why agencies are attractive.
    It seems they are offering similar to LEA of long ago - though charging.
    I read a lot about new childminders who feel they are floundering and I think the supportive aspect has got to give confidence. I can see agencies growing as they recruit childminders from the initial training like Emma, they are offering support that LEA's don't seem to be now.
    I was discussing this with some nieces over Christmas and they thought that the biggest issue for them was being confident about choosing a childminder ( they had loads of hearsay horror stories from friends!) and an agency backing them was a positive in their eyes, which was interesting.
    Us already established, reasonably confident childminders don't feel they need the support and question who is doing the support, but for newbies I can see the attraction.
    You can't move away from the fact that you are being graded via the agency and I would still be concerned that agencies are going to take on everybody and anybody who is willing to pay so the quality of all the childminders may not be the same as an individual. There are lots of acadamies in special measures, schools joined them for similar reasons. We have a great school in our town attached to a failing Acadamy chain ( regretting decision) so are being tarred with the same brush, not so easy to leave as I think leaving an agency will though.

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    Simona Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by FloraDora View Post
    I totally understand why agencies are attractive.
    It seems they are offering similar to LEA of long ago - though charging.
    I read a lot about new childminders who feel they are floundering and I think the supportive aspect has got to give confidence. I can see agencies growing as they recruit childminders from the initial training like Emma, they are offering support that LEA's don't seem to be now.
    I was discussing this with some nieces over Christmas and they thought that the biggest issue for them was being confident about choosing a childminder ( they had loads of hearsay horror stories from friends!) and an agency backing them was a positive in their eyes, which was interesting.
    Us already established, reasonably confident childminders don't feel they need the support and question who is doing the support, but for newbies I can see the attraction.
    You can't move away from the fact that you are being graded via the agency and I would still be concerned that agencies are going to take on everybody and anybody who is willing to pay so the quality of all the childminders may not be the same as an individual. There are lots of acadamies in special measures, schools joined them for similar reasons. We have a great school in our town attached to a failing Acadamy chain ( regretting decision) so are being tarred with the same brush, not so easy to leave as I think leaving an agency will though.
    Very interesting points Flora Dora
    All LA's could do what mine does...support agency cms but also offer support to Ofsted registered ones at a small cost...again something mine does too.
    The way they dropped cms support was a blow to many...but when it came to applying to being an agency many did...so are they in it for the money?

    Having seen the new inspection framework for agencies I am rather worried at the reaction from those cms who joined one
    The agencies will not be graded...therefore the cms cannot reflect that grade in their practice

    All an agency will be declared is Efficient or Inefficient in support...rather a different thing from the original promised Of grading.
    Inefficient is like Inadequate so only one chance of getting it right.
    Too soon to reflect on this maybe but I will be hearing more...it may explain the flurry of meetings recently arranged by some agencies

    Unfortunately there are still so many people in EY who believe agency are not a success...Some don't even know many are registered and a few have cms on their books
    I feel they will rise in numbers and they don't have to be local...worrying and requiring cms to be alert.

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  19. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by k1rstie View Post
    Hi Emma. I think you should think wisely before speaking about your agency too much on here.
    All existing childminders have different views on belonging to an agency or remaining independent.
    I think that you are easily identifiable by your agency, your local authority and also other childminders.
    Although, I would also like to know all the juicy details, I feel that you could end up in trouble from your agency.

    Sorry everyone, it's just my initial reaction to the post.
    I do think K1rstie has a very good point. At the very least, check that you're not breaching some sort of confidentiality agreement or code of conduct that your agency may have. I'll say that much and, unlike your agency, I don't even charge for this sort of advice.

    I OTOH have no such obligations toward @homechildcare. I did my level 3 diploma with their training department. They have some very good, very nice people there, so don't get me wrong, this isn't personal. I'm just not in step with their agenda for childcare.

    For one thing, the training was less about us learning anything and more about getting lots of "criteria" boxes ticked in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

    As coincidence would have it, the debate about agencies was running at the same time as I was doing the level 3. If anything I say here appears a little unkind, perhaps even brutal - and it probably will - then it is at least bears the marks of integrity by being consistent with what I and many of us were arguing at the time. Remember at the time this whole issue was (and maybe still is?) seen as a fight for the very survival of independent CMing in the face of a government determined to press ahead with the agency model in the face of massive critical opposition from the practitioners and parents alike. It's easy to forget that now in a bid to be all nice and welcoming but that is the reality and I make no apologies for reminding everyone of what may be something of an inconvenient truth at this point in history.

    I worry that @homechildcare's priorities are overwhelmingly economic: including occasions on which they may have been somewhat, ahem, "economical with the truth." When the agency issue was discussed during a break in one of my seminars, the @homechildcare people were at pains to point out they had no intentions of extending their territory into my area. This didn't stop them approaching me personally to sign up with them as an agency CM last year. Hmm....odd that.

    Then, when I pointed out I had no wish, need or desire to pay them for what I can do perfectly well for myself, they followed up with a request for me to become an agency CM support person for them. They'd pay me to offer the sort of help we all offer one another for free here on the Forum. They only seem to understand the cash imperative.

    I'm about to "offend" - at least by the modern ridiculous definition, by which I mean I'm about to say something absolutely frank, honest, morally upstanding (not to mention quite possibly correct) but which some people don't like to hear.

    If agencies are all they're cracked up to be and offering all the services and support a CM needs, please tell me why a CM would need or even want to be on a forum such as this?

    If the answer to that question is that agencies are leaving gaps in their support/services which the forum is left to fill, then my second question is this: why should I or any other independent CM feel obligated to do the agencies' jobs for them and make up for the agencies' inadequacies by offering free advice of a kind those very agencies purport to provide, for which they charge, and which we may conclude they do not indeed deliver?

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    We found a couple of agency childminders on the Independent Childminders Facebook group and wondered the same thing Bunyip -

    Why would they need to be members of our group? Surely their agency gives them the support they need ... we removed them.

    We have however said that the Forum is open to anyone who wants to seek support - an agency childminder might, after all, decide to change to independent (unlikely - I imagine they are going to be tied in - but it's possible) so we want to be as welcoming as we can be...

    Hence opening up a new agency section to the forum where they can post and make friends

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarah707 View Post
    We found a couple of agency childminders on the Independent Childminders Facebook group and wondered the same thing Bunyip -

    Why would they need to be members of our group? Surely their agency gives them the support they need ... we removed them.

    We have however said that the Forum is open to anyone who wants to seek support - an agency childminder might, after all, decide to change to independent (unlikely - I imagine they are going to be tied in - but it's possible) so we want to be as welcoming as we can be...

    Hence opening up a new agency section to the forum where they can post and make friends
    Thanks for the clarification.

  24. #16
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    Agency cms can leave and that is clear in the Ofsted guidance ...and ask to be registered with Ofsted after appropriate notice and according to the terms of their agency contract
    I have seen an application form from my agency and this was clarified by Sue Robb herself.
    Agency cms will be bound by confidentiality but free to seek help where they want

    @Home childcare are not as advanced as an agency compared to Leap Ahead

    All associations and training ones too have said they will support agency cms on the same level and offer training if needed....not sure why the FB page would refuse them? But obviously this is their choice
    If they are welcome in the forum why not on FB?


    Unless I have lost the thread in all this we are confusing how we feel about agencies...the support they offer is in no way comparable to that received here...my personal view....this is social media compared to hands on face to face support and lots of paperwork and possible Ofsted visit when the agency gets inspected

    Most important issue is the fact those cms are 'deregulated' as are those changing their work and going into other settings

    Look at Leap Ahead ...that is the shape of things to come I fear!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bunyip View Post

    I'm about to "offend" - at least by the modern ridiculous definition, by which I mean I'm about to say something absolutely frank, honest, morally upstanding (not to mention quite possibly correct) but which some people don't like to hear.

    If agencies are all they're cracked up to be and offering all the services and support a CM needs, please tell me why a CM would need or even want to be on a forum such as this?

    If the answer to that question is that agencies are leaving gaps in their support/services which the forum is left to fill, then my second question is this: why should I or any other independent CM feel obligated to do the agencies' jobs for them and make up for the agencies' inadequacies by offering free advice of a kind those very agencies purport to provide, for which they charge, and which we may conclude they do not indeed deliver?
    :-) that's how I feel and also why I wondered an agency minder would be looking at a forum.

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  27. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by loocyloo View Post
    :-) that's how I feel and also why I wondered an agency minder would be looking at a forum.
    Why not?
    For the same reasons agency cms may be allowed to belong to an association that would support them further

    I personally know agency cms...would I refuse them help if needed...No
    It is all new to them, what is the harm of having help wherever they can get it?



    Generally I am surprised at the forum position if they look at agency cms this way....are cms turning against cms? Sad if so

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simona View Post
    All associations and training ones too have said they will support agency cms on the same level and offer training if needed....not sure why the FB page would refuse them? But obviously this is their choice
    If they are welcome in the forum why not on FB?

    As you know, I'm not the least bit FB-savvy. But IIUC from Sarah's explanation, there is a difference between the FB page for independent CMs and the more general CMs' forum. The crux of it is the "independent" bit. I take it to mean that the administrators don't see an independent CMs' FB page as an appropriate place to host non-independent CMs.

    OTOH I realise there is room for a contrary opinion. After all, the CMs' forum has always accepted members who aren't CMs at all.

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  30. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simona View Post
    Why not?
    For the same reasons agency cms may be allowed to belong to an association that would support them further

    I personally know agency cms...would I refuse them help if needed...No
    It is all new to them, what is the harm of having help wherever they can get it?



    Generally I am surprised at the forum position if they look at agency cms this way....are cms turning against cms? Sad if so
    This was very much a point of discussion when we were fighting against Truss and the regime's determination to impose agencies upon the world of CMing.

    Yes, we may well see CMs turning against CMs. I think a lot of it will depend on whether we still see agencies as a threat to independent CMing or just something we no longer need to worry about.

    At the heart of the matter is this: did we have a genuine case against agencies when they were Truss's big issue, or were we all just a bunch of silly CMs getting our nickers in a twist over nothing circa 2012-13?

    I still say now what I said then. Agencies have the potential to create local monopolies with the clout to damage independent CMs through overpowering resources such as advertising, networks, access to training, resources, etc. etc. They are playing the same game as us, but playing it by very different rules: including the way they inspect their CMs. We had issues as to whether or not Ofsted were to be the sole arbiters of quality with regard to childcare. Are the agencies ever likely to say their own CMs "require improvement"? Really?

    As I said years ago, I am going to find it difficult to give advice to an agency CM, when that is the agency's job. The big thing was always that CM agencies would "remove the burden of paperwork". So I'm gonna be pretty pee-d off the first time an agency CM wants my advice on policies, risk assessments, record-keeping, "do I have to complete a medication form for nappy cream?" etc. Woe betide the first one begging for copies of my risk assessments, etc.

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