Welsh Government has changed the guidance it previously offered on access to Childcare Offer funding for parents who use a relative who is a registered childminder. This change means that childminders in Wales are now in a similar position to childminders in England where they are unable to provide funded childcare for related children.
What is the change in guidance that has been confirmed for Wales?
The change in guidance comes from a review of the law in relation to the ‘The Child Minding and Day Care Exceptions (Wales) Order 2010’, as amended in 2016. This Order states that a person who looks after a child under the age of twelve on domestic premises for reward does not act as a child minder if the person is a parent, or a relative of the child or is a foster parent for the child. The Exceptions Order goes on to define relative as ‘a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or the half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step parent.’
What was the previous guidance?
The previous guidance provided by Welsh Government that PACEY Cymru shared, and held up as an example of Wales leading the way in order to support childcare sustainability and a proportionate approach, was that a grandparent or other relative could deliver the funded Childcare Offer if the care was provided wholly or mainly outside of the child’s home.
What does this mean?
PACEY Cymru are aware of situations where this change in position has meant families with long-term private childcare arrangements with childminders are having now to make a choice as to whether to continue with their current private childcare arrangement, and the financial cost of this, or move children to a setting where they can access the funding greatly disrupting continuity of care. This can be particularly detrimental if the child has a disability or special educational need. This also impacts on the sustainability of childminding services.
Joy Edwards, a registered childminder from Caerphilly, is one who is affected by the change. Joy is no longer able to provide funded Childcare Offer places for her grandchildren who are settled in her setting. From January Joy’s two grandchildren have to be placed in the care of other registered childcare providers where essentially Joy would have to take on two more children to maintain the viability of her child-minding business. Joy says ‘This guidance does not take into account the well-being of children, including my grandchildren, who are cousins and will now be separated and moved from my service in which they are settled. Their parents have to make the choice around whether to access funded childcare elsewhere (if there is any available) or to continue paying me privately which will impact on them financially. This seems to be against the aims of the Childcare Offer in supporting sustainability, well-being of children and reducing the financial strain on families’.
The issue around caring for related children and accessing funding in Wales is unique to childminders; individuals working in or owning a nursery or pre-school are permitted to claim the entitlement for related children.
What are the next steps?
The issue has been discussed between Cwlwm and Welsh Government. PACEY Cymru have written to the Minister for Children and Social Care to raise concerns around this and to highlight the issues faced by members. Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager (Wales) for PACEY Cymru has also had a meeting with senior Civil Servants from Welsh Government to put pressure on the government to change their position in relation to this. They are looking further at the position and any evidence or case studies we can gather will be used to support our lobbying work in Wales and PACEY Cymru have developed an online survey to collect the views of registered childminders on this. We would be grateful for any promotion of this survey to ensure a good response rate. The survey should not take more than 10 minutes and all views shared will be treated in confidence. The story has also been picked up by the media in Wales.
The survey is available for childminders in Wales in English here
The survey is available for childminders in Wales in Welsh here
You can also contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to share any specific concerns, queries or experiences.
For further information on the Childcare Offer, please visit:
or contact your umbrella organisation:
Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs:
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA Cymru):
Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey Cymru):
Wales Pre-School Providers Association (WalesPPA):