REC Childcare- letter to the minister, safeguards must be improved in childcare
REC Childcare and the British Association of Professional Nannies (BAPN) have this week issued a joint letter to the Minister of State for Children and Families, Sarah Teather MP, urging her to take action with regards to the ongoing consultation on the development of the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register. We believe there has been a distinct lack of progress on this front and that it is in the interests of government, nannies and for the children and their families in England that standards and important safeguards are improved in this sector.
Whilst we welcome recent developments such as the launch of the childcare commission, which will look at how to reduce childcare costs and explore international examples of best practice, more needs to be done to ensure the safety of children in the home. Key points include:
• Ofsted currently runs a Voluntary Childcare Register, the primary aim of which is to facilitate the voluntary registration of nannies in order to allow working parents to utilise childcare vouchers to offset the salary paid to a nanny. The Ofsted branding has meant that parents view the register as verification that a nanny is suitable to work with children. However, there are serious concerns about the register's robustness and the strength of current inspections, which could potentially jeopardise the safety of children and families.
• REC Childcare submitted concerns about flaws in the register and the strength of the current inspections process in October 2010 in the hope that the scheme would be overhauled. At a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Education in June, we were disappointed to hear that the consultation into the development of the register is still at the ‘early stage’ of the policy process.
• REC Childcare and BAPN propose a complete overhaul of the way nannies are registered on the Ofsted Voluntary Register. The scheme must ensure applications and documentation are properly scrutinised and checked as part of registration process.
• If an overhaul of the Ofsted Voluntary Register is not feasible, we would like to see the introduction of a professional registration process for nannies. The responsibilities for registering on such a register being removed from Ofsted and given to a separate body tasked with registration and revalidation of all nannies- such as the current model involving the Care Inspectorate operating in Scotland.
Any new initiative must fully appreciate the complexity of the childcare sector and the distinctions between nannies and childminders. Judith Wayne, Chair of REC Childcare is clear that; “nannies and childminders perform different functions and therefore cannot be approached in the same way. Nannies occupy a unique professional role, delivering high quality childcare in the families own home."
Good agencies are committed to upholding the highest standards of quality and safety. Government has to act on the proposals to look more closely at quality assurance to improve safeguards across the industry.
If you would like to learn more about the REC Childcare and BAPN campaign to overhaul the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register, please drop me a line at email@example.com