31/10/2018 06:00 GMT

Don't Call Us Glorified Babysitters, Say Childminders Who Want To Dispel 8 Outdated Myths About Their Profession

"Negative assumptions about working in childcare can be frustrating for childminders."

Childminders are basically babysitters, they’re all women, and they’re not regulated are just three of the outdated myths those in the childminding profession would like to bust.

Five childminding organisations in Britain – the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), PACEY Cymru, the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA), Childminding Ireland and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) – are working together to highlight the work that professional childminders deliver to bust these myths. 

“There are many myths surrounding using a childminder for childcare which are totally unfounded,” said Claire Protheroe, national manager for PACEY Cymru. “Negative assumptions about working in childcare can be frustrating for childminders, who know only too well the commitment and dedication that goes into the work they do.”

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Together, the groups have launched a campaign, called The Childminding Myths, detailing eight of the most common childminding myths and the facts that prove them wrong. 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Maggie Simpson, chief executive of SCMA, said she hopes it will lay to rest some common misconceptions about the essential services childminders provide. “Working from their own homes, childminders provide an unrivalled continuity of care, offering unique and flexible approaches to professional childcare whilst looking after small groups of children in a family setting,” she added. 

1. Childminders are not regulated or inspected.

Fact: In England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales childminding services are regulated and inspected by the inspectorate or body who has the legal responsibility for this in each country. In England, it is Ofsted; in Northern Ireland it’s the local Health and Social Care Trust; in Scotland, it’s the Care Inspectorate; and in Wales it’s the Care Inspectorate Wales. 

2. Childminders are just babysitters. 

Fact: Play is an essential ingredient to support children to think and make sense of the world around them. Childminders will have a daily routine in place to ensure children’s learning and development needs are being met. This could include activities such as creative play, messy play, outdoor play, reading, storytelling, role play and music.

3. Childminders can look after as many children as they want at any one time.

Fact: The maximum number of children that can be cared for by a childminder, including the childminders’ own children and any others they are responsible for, depends on the age of the children and the space available. For example, childminders can look after up to six children up to the age of eight. Of these, a maximum of three can be under five. 

4. Childminders are unqualified.

Fact: As part of the process to register as a childminder, childminders have to evidence their knowledge of child development and have records of training and qualifications undertaken to share with those looking to use their service.

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5. Childminding is only for women.

Fact: Although the childcare and early years sector is dominated by women, an increasing number of men are choosing to become childminders, according to PACEY. Many of these are dads who see childminding as a career option that allows them a better work-life balance. It is also not uncommon to see couples working as co-childminders.

6. A childminder will replace parent in a child’s affection.

Fact: Some parents worry that a childminder will form a closer bond to the child than they do. Childminders have experience of working in partnership with parents and aim to support the transition between the home and the childminder setting. 

7. A childminder works for the parent.

Fact: Childminders are self-employed and enter into a contract with the parent to deliver a childminding service. In practice, this means the parent pays a fee for the childminding service provided and the childminder is responsible for managing their own tax and insurance. 

8. I can’t use a childminder to help with childcare costs.

Fact: There are a variety of ways that parents are now helped with the cost of childcare. Conditions vary across the UK and Ireland, but in general support for childcare costs may be available if you are using a registered childminder in the UK. Some parents are also still able to access childcare vouchers which can be used to help with childcare costs with childminding services.

Click here to find out more about the campaign and follow it on social media using #ChildcareChampions #ChildmindingVoices.