Despite 301 quality local childminders being equipped to deliver this free Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) to families in the area, Aberdeenshire Council is engaging but not yet fully cooperating with the childminding workforce, according to a childminding organisation.
According to the Care Inspectorate, who inspect all childminding services in Scotland, “Childminders provide higher quality services than other daycare of children services.”
Childminders are also scrutinised under the same legislation and meet the same standards as all other ELC providers.
According to SCMA, Parents should be given an option of how they receive their free ELC hours. However, they claim Aberdeenshire Council is not yet commissioning childminding services, and so parents are restricted to only nursery-based settings.
Maggie Simpson, Chief Executive of SCMA said: “Childminders provide high quality care and offer low adult-to-child ratios, which is particularly important for raising attainment and supporting families.”
“Childminders are essential to the ELC workforce, offering a unique blended childcare approach to suit the vital needs of children and their families – and parents can be confident that quality is not comprised when local authorities commission childminding services.”
The SCMA say local authorities who have recognised the benefits of a blended childcare approach using childminders will be better prepared when the funded hours increase from 600 to 1,140 in 2020.
SCMA’s campaign includes four main points:
1. Parents, particularly of eligible two year olds, should be given childminding as an option for their funded hours of ELC. Childminding is not just for working parents;
2. Parents already using a childminding service should have the right to be able to continue with that service for their funded hours of ELC with the cost funded by the local authority;
3. A blended ELC model is developed with part of the day with the childminder and part with nursery;
4. Help protect the professional childminding businesses operating in the local authority area and if required SCMA can work to expand services to meet demands.
To find out more about SCMA’s ELC campaign, visit childminding.org/elc
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to delivering the Scottish Government’s ambition for accessible and affordable early learning and childcare in Aberdeenshire.
“By 2020 we will be legally required to deliver 1140 hours of funded childcare for two, three and four-year-olds and we are working on our strategy to be able to do so, in which we anticipate childminders will have a place.
“We are currently holding a consultation which asks all parents to give us an idea of the kind of childcare packages they would like to see in Aberdeenshire.
“Parents, childcare partners and childminders all have the opportunity to shape what early learning and childcare will look like in the future in Aberdeenshire and we urge them to respond to our consultation.”