FAO all Cheshire east childminders who accept 3 and 4 year old funding

I attended a meeting of the Early Years Reference Group. The Group feeds into the Schools’ Forum and is responsible for deciding the formula for the 3 and 4 year old funding.

I was the only childminder there - although I think there is another childminder on the group. The discussion was about ensuring the funding formula is fit for purpose in the future.

The base rate figure for funding is £3.25 - a flexibility enhancement (which most childminders offer) takes it to £3.45 an hour. There are further enhancements for outstanding and deprivation.

I made 2 points during the meeting -

1. Childminders do not generally feel that £3.45 an hour is sustainable, especially following on from the 2 year funding of £4.85 an hour. Children do not suddenly get ‘cheaper to keep’ when they hit 3. Most of us also charge much more than £3.45 an hour and need to remain sustainable.

The reply was - there is only so much money in the pot. We are not here to talk about raising the amount providers get - we are talking about how the amount should be distributed across all providers to ensure fairness in the future.
If you want to raise the amount providers get you need to lobby your MP - the budget hasn't gone up but there are more providers...

2. This affects everyone - the outstanding grade can be lost in a heartbeat depending on the mood of the inspector on the day. Childminders (and many other providers) are trying to engage with Ofsted at the moment through the Ofsted Big Conversation - and via PLA - to address this but we are seeing more and more childminders losing their outstanding for often spurious reasons. This casts doubt over the fairness and validity of the outstanding enhancement currently in the formula.

The reply was - we understand your concern and it may be something the group can address by looking at different ways of distributing the money. Carol Sharples also said that if any Cheshire east childminder feels they have been through an unjust or unfair inspection they should contact her for further advice and support.

I tried my best to speak up for you! Childminders already do better than PVI providers because most of us offer the flexibility (and therefore get the extra £0.20 an hour) - and to the ones who don’t - why on earth not?!?
If you have any comments you would like me to take to the next meeting, please let me know.