Childcare in crisis: childminder says 'phenomenal' costs and Ofsted rules forcing people out of profession
A childminder says huge costs and excessive paperwork could be to blame for a shortage of people staying in the profession.
Paul France, from Hemsworth, has spoken out about the difficulties faced by those in the industry, after it was revealed that 50 have resigned across the Wakefield district over the past two years.
Some local towns are now facing serious gaps in childcare provision, a meeting was told last month. Hemsworth has just three childminding agencies in the town, while Knottingley, which is of a similar size and has a population of around 15,000 people, has just four childminders.
Mr France, who works for a childminding business which is run by his wife Jo, said he finds the job "rewarding" but understands why so many in the profession have left.
He said: "I think it’s expected that we have to be like teachers.
"There’s eight or nine criteria which is used by Ofsted around the development of children, so when they come you have to show you’re developing children.
"That’s before you’ve even shown you’ve got policies around things like food and nutrition."
Mr France also described the costs involved as “phenomenal”, pointing out that childminders don’t have a steady income because of the varying numbers of youngsters they look after.
He said that the cost of regular DBS checks, which he recognises are “absolutely necessary”, also swallows a lot of cash, in addition to insurance and the extra costs for utilities.
It costs £40 for a DBS check to be completed, and then an additional £13 a year to keep it up-to-date.
The France family also had to fork out for an extra DBS when one of their own children turned 16.
Mr France added: “I know it’s really important for child protection purposes, but I just don’t understand why they have to charge us so much for them.
“You can see how quickly all the money goes.”
“At the end of the day we’re not guaranteed an income. You could have two children, nine children or you could have none.
“It’s a bit like being a jet pilot and not having a plane. You could have all of this set up and in place, and you might have no children.”
Responding to Mr France's comments on child development, a spokesperson for Ofsted said: "The early years are crucial for child development - children learn more rapidly between the ages of zero to five than at any other age.
"We expect nurseries and childminders to give children as many learning opportunities as possible, to meet the requirements of the government’s statutory framework for the early years foundation stage, and to make sure children are well prepared for their next steps."