My letter to Mr Wright - http://independentchildminders.weebly.com/blog/dear-mr-wright
The Independent Childminders Facebook group -
I offered 4 options in my poll (other members added options but I have brought it back to 4 for clarity). The options I offered to the question ‘are you intending to offer the 30 hours funding from September 2017' were – yes, no, maybe and part.
2500+ childminder colleagues voted – I have added some of their comments…
YES = I will offer the 30 hours from Sept – 526
For a few childminders, the funding rate is higher than their normal hourly rate and they welcome the 30 hours. For the majority of childminders, however, this is not the case. Many of these childminders commented that they are doing it very reluctantly and would, for example, only offer the 30 hours for current families to ensure continuity of care for children currently in their provisions; others stated that they would offer the 30 hours conditional on parents agreeing to pay an ‘optional additional services’ fee or ‘voluntary contribution’ to cover the shortfall in funding; others have said that while they feel that they will have no alternative but to offer it, it will cripple them financially due to low funding rates offered by their LAs.
NO = I do not intend offering the 30 hours – 724
Childminders state that cannot afford to offer the 30 hours. There is a lot of concern among childminders about the LA payment terms – they cannot wait 3 months for their money and if children leave mid-term the LA will take the funding money back which will leave them struggling; for many there is additional LA paperwork or online documentation which is often complicated to complete. Many childminders state that they are not prepared to give something free to parents when they are earning less than their normal hourly rate with term time only payments and none of their usual terms and conditions which are there to protect what is, for many, their only family income.
MAYBE = I might offer the 30 hours depending on… – 1134
There is concern about making a financial loss and being unsustainable… no notice period when children leave (which leaves the childminder with a space to fill but no financial buffer)… continuity of care for current children (they might feel pressured by parents to offer it)… late payments due to issues within the LA… LA terms for the 30 hours funding are still uncertain (many are not prepared to offer it over more than 46 weeks if it has to be stretched for example)… space concerns – many providers are already nearly full because there is such a big problem with lack of providers (so many have left) and they can’t fit funded children into their vacant hours.
PART = I might offer, say, 15 hours in partnership with other settings – 120
A lot of childminders have part-time children – they can’t fit them all in for the 30 hours and are concerned about showing favouritism but they say they will do what they can to accommodate some of the children part-time. This will also make the loss in income more manageable but they will have to put up their fees for non-funded children.
A group of childminders discussed their concerns about the ‘shared care’ option where children attend their childminding provision for part of the hours and a nursery or pre-school for the rest. A number stated that other settings were already being quite forceful in their requirement for the child to attend for all 30 hours, leaving the childminder without enough hours to remain sustainable - so they lose the child. They say that if we are going to have to work in partnership with other providers to offer the 30 hours funding, they need to be fair to the childminders.
Other childminders state that local nurseries and pre-schools are intending to add registration fees for parents and as well as charging for meals and outings and they are adding things like extra French lessons and dance lessons to their invoices – childminders cannot do that! Many other providers have also stated their intention to charge significantly more than normal hourly rates for non-funded children which again many childminders do not feel comfortable doing just to subsidise the Government’s funding shortfall.
The general feeling among childminders is this – we should not be put in the position of feeling we have no option but to offer something that could ruin us financially. Even those who are going to offer the 30 hours talk about the ‘massive struggle’ they will have financially – they ask ‘why should we lose money so parents can have something for free?’ Can the Government not see, from the falling childminder figures year on year, that they are damaging the profession with their policies?
I think it will be interesting to re-run this poll when more of our colleagues know what their Local Authorities are going to be offering in terms of funding, support, payment terms etc.
I will be sending this poll to the relevant authorities. Thank you to all colleagues for your support.