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Wednesday, 17 May 2006

First National Report On Quality Of Childminding In Scotland

Written by Miles Cooper

The first ever report on the quality of Childminding in Scotland has given a powerful insight into one of the nation’s most important childcare services.

Thousands of families rely on childminders on a daily basis, yet to date there has been no clear picture of the state of this vital sector. Now the Care Commission has unveiled their findings, revealing a generally upbeat portrait of dedicated carers, high quality services and satisfied parents. However, areas were identified where some services could improve.

Since 2002 the Care Commission has been the sole body responsible for registering and regulating childminders, who work in their own homes looking after other people’s children. It has built up the most detailed ever snapshot of the sector, by carrying out thousands of inspections, investigating complaints and seeking the views of parents.

The main findings of the detailed review, carried out during 2004-05, are:
- More than 97% of parents are happy with their childminder
- 78% of services required no intervention
- Upheld complaints against just 0.9% of registered childminders.
- Legal enforcement action against was needed against only 43 poor quality services – including four that were shut down.

Ronnie Hill, the Commission’s Director of Children’s Services Regulation, said: “I think everyone can be reassured by these findings. A modern, family-friendly society can be measured by the quality of its child care and in Scotland childminding is a vital part of that provision. Our review shows clearly the childminding sector is in good shape. The findings are good news for our children, since this shows they are being cared for in an environment which is positive, happy and nurturing. That in turn will reassure parents that they can return to work safe in the knowledge that their children will be properly looked after.

“It is also welcome for everyone involved in the childminding profession. It is important recognition for thousands of carers whose work often goes unsung. We did find that a small number of services gave real cause for concern –and in those cases we were swift to act, by demanding improvements, or closing them down.”

Figures showed there were 5890 childminding services in Scotland in March 2005. Of those, 4700 were members of the professional body, SCMA, which provides training and development and runs its own quality scheme, The Scheme of Excellence Awards.

During the review period 1065 (21.5%) services received at least one Requirement for improvement from the Care Commission. Some services had more than one Requirement  and 2223 were issued in total. Where a childminder does not take steps to meet a Requirement they can face legal action. Only 43 legal notices were issued to childminders who were not delivering a quality service – and four of those were closed down as a result.

The Care Commission also investigates complaints and received 115 during 2004-05. Of those, 99 complaint investigations were completed during the year and 52 were upheld or partially upheld.

Anne McNellan, chief executive of the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) said: “We are delighted at the high level of satisfaction indicated by parents of their childminding service. It will be a real boost to the morale of the many dedicated childminders throughout Scotland and should encourage parents who are about to choose a childcare service for their children to have confidence in the quality of childminding.”