I am strongly committed to supporting positive reform of the childminding sector to enable more parents access affordable and high quality early learning and care and school age childcare. I intend to develop regulations for childminders that are proportionate and appropriate to the home setting in which childminders work.
The current Regulations (both for early learning and care settings, and for school-age childcare settings) are not tailored for childminders, and the extension of regulation to childminders will require a full review of these Regulations.
My officials are at the final stages of developing a Childminding Action Plan, which I hope to publish shortly in draft form, for the purpose of public consultation.
The Action Plan will cover a period of approximately 10 years, and aims to improve access to childminding as one means of delivering affordable, quality early learning and care and school-age childcare. My intention is to work towards an expanded workforce with many more registered childminders available. This will support the growing demand for childcare.
The Action Plan will enable parents who use childminders to benefit from subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme. The Action Plan will also aim to bring childminders into the mainstream of regulation, funding and support, and to recognise childminders for the valuable work they do for children and for parents.
In relation to registration standards, the Action Plan will support the quality assurance of childminders and the safeguarding of children by extending the scope of regulation and inspection to all paid, non-relative childminders.
In doing so, my priority will be to ensure that regulation and inspection are proportionate and appropriate for childminders. Public consultation will form an essential part of this process, and I look forward to working closely with stakeholders - and with childminders in particular - in the review and reform of the Regulations.