Childcare is one of those topics which is never out of the headlines. Whether it is difficulty in finding school places, or the cost of nursery provision, there’s a lot to worry about. One of the more cost-effective forms of childcare is using a childminder, who cares for children in a family home setting. However, a recent report from Yorkshire highlighted a huge shortage in the number of childminders in the region. The main reason for the sharp decline in the number of childminders is the administrative burden they find themselves under.
Many of the people who are leaving their jobs as childminders state that paperwork is their main reason for shutting up shop. Childminders in England and Wales are registered through OFSTED, with similar bodies operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Childminding is treated just the same as other forms of early education, with childminders expected to keep detailed records on what the children are learning. Furthermore, childminders need first aid training, a food hygiene certificate, risk assessments for their home – the list is extensive. It is easy to see why this burden of record keeping and training courses could put people off from entering the profession.
The other major administrative burden on childminders is getting a DBS check. Although most self-employed people are only able to get a basic disclosure, the system is different for childminders. They apply for their enhanced disclosure checks through OFSTED, or the other regulatory body where applicable. An enhanced disclosure is needed not only for the person who is going to be working as a childminder, but any other adult over the age of 18 who lives in the house. If the childminder has a spouse and two or three adult children, the form-filling can be considerable. Also, childminders have to pay the fees for all the enhanced DBS checks which are required for their household.
DBS Renewal and the Update Service
There is no expiry date on a disclosure certificate, and OFSTED and other bodies will have their own rules about how often they should be repeated. Usually, the interval is set at five years. However, many childminders feel they should keep their DBS check up to date at all times as a way to reassure parents. There is the option to enrol for DBS Update, an opt-in service which you can join after applying for your initial certificate. There is a cost implication to this too though, with an annual subscription fee for each person.
It is unlikely that childminders and people in similar professions will see any reduction in the level of paperwork and administration in the near future. The consequences of fewer people taking up the option of becoming a childminder is that places will become scarce, and prices for parents may rise. This could lead to more people being attracted to consider taking up the occupation, but short term the shortages could lead to parents having to consider their childcare options months if not years in advance.