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Help!! my fab childminder has been suspended!!!

(34 Posts)
mad4mainecoons Fri 30-Sep-11 20:55:06

hi all,

im really hoping you can give me some advice. i have a fantastic childminder who my dd (18m) goes to one day a week and she phoned me last night, very upset to say that she had been suspended pending an inquiry!!

all she could tell me was that there had been an incident last monday with a boy she minds, and his parents had objected to the way she dicaplined him and had complained to ofsted. i dont really know the other parents or this little boy so i have no idea what to think. she is certinaly not the type of person who would ever even shout at a child so i cannot imagine what she could have done that would warrant a suspension!

do ofstead automatically suspend if a parent makes a complaint?

how long is the suspension likely to be, the ofstead website mentions a 6 week automatic period but then also says it will end when they are sure the children are not at risk?

am i ever likely to find out exactly what happened?

my dd and i love this lady, she is so super with us, very relaxed and brilliant in the activities she does with the children. i so dont want to move dd into a nursary (my only other option aside giving up work) as she has been so happy, but this issue has worried me

if anyone can offer any advice or experience i would be so grateful.

thanks

ChippingIn Fri 30-Sep-11 20:59:14

Well - I would want to know exactly what happened - then if I was happy with that I'd employ her as a nanny in the meantime (if that's what she wants too).

cazboldy Fri 30-Sep-11 21:05:40

i was chair of a playgroup, and had to suspend a member of staff (for turning up drunk!)

However i was unable to tell parents why at the time, or indeed afterwards, so think it is probably likely that you won't find out what happened.

Do you know the parents of the other child? Could you speak to them/write to them to see what happened? They might sympathise with your situation, and tell you..... although of course it would only be their side of it, but then you could at least base your judgement on what they say, and what you know about your CM already.

minderjinx Fri 30-Sep-11 21:23:19

The problem is that she probably cannot explain or defend herself without breaching confidentiality, and will have to wait for the OFSTED inquiry to clear her name if she has done nothing wrong. It is a horrible situation for all concerned but I know more than one childminder who has been unjustly accused of "crimes" relating to their supposed poor judgement or lack of care but more likely malicious complaints based on personality clashes or even financial disputes such as parents trying to get out of giving proper notice. OFSTED can take their time to sort out the truth of the matter but meanwhile the CM's livelihood may be destroyed and any other families are terribly inconvenienced. I don't have an answer except to trust your instincts and if she has always been good to you and your children love her she's almost certainly fine. If you are in two minds, then your relationship is probably spoiled anyway, either because you will never really trust her or she may be unable to forget that you doubted her.

minderjinx Fri 30-Sep-11 21:33:13

Cross posted with Cazboldy, but I agree that asking the other parent what happened would be a good move. There's nothing to stop them telling you their side of the story, though you'd obviously need to take into account that it is only their side. If they tell you what happened and it's trivial even by their account, or you can immediately see there's another agenda, that might put your mind at ease. If on the other hand it's plausible and serious, you would be right to be concerned and act accordingly.

ChippingIn Fri 30-Sep-11 21:55:23

Caz - it's different when you are dealing with a staff member than directly with the person involved. Surely the CM has just as much right to tell her side of it as the family does??

<Yet another reason why I'd never be a CM. Never.>

cazboldy Fri 30-Sep-11 22:12:48

? i have no idea!..... surely she has to follow the la guidelines?

mad4mainecoons Sat 01-Oct-11 08:46:03

thanks everyone.

my instinct is that she has done nothing wrong and she will be cleared of whatever she has been accused of.

but how long is the suspension likey to last? is it always the standard six wek even if the person is cleared of all wrong doing?

im going to struggle for chilcare if thats the case sad

anewyear Sat 01-Oct-11 09:02:28

Why dont you give Ofsted a call, 0300 123 1231, they obviously wont be able to comment on the alleged incident, but could possibly answer your other questions/give you a rough dea of timescales, although all 'cases' are diffrent of course etc

I second you asking the other parents what has happened, as someone else said tho, it will be their veiw on the incedent, and will be down to you wether you feel the complaint was justified or not and if you feel it wasnt, do let your childminder know she has your support. It will be gratefully received.

HoneyPablo Sat 01-Oct-11 10:43:28

I am of the opinion that the allegaetion must be a pretty serious one if the childminder has been suspended.
If you are pretty confident in your own mind that she will not be found in breach of the law, then I agree with chippinin- employ her as a nanny in your own home.

I know it's different in a nursery, because there are other people around but I know of a mother who took her child out of a nursery because she fell over and banged her head. She is now sueing them because they didn't phone for an ambulance.
Sounds pretty horific, doesn't it and maybe negligent. But the child has a modelling contract and I wonder what is more concerning to the parent- the fact that their child had an accident (which happens, and not every head injury needs an ambulance) or the fact that the injury and possible scar would affect the modelling contract.
There are always two sides to every story and until you hear the full story (which might never happen) you will have to rely on your own judgement.

looneytune Sat 01-Oct-11 11:44:26

Not read the whole thread but unless things have changed, I'm thinking it must be pretty serious for her to have been suspended sad

I've been subjected to 2 false complaints, still don't know for sure who but have an idea. Both times I had an inspector turn up on my door step and both times bad stuff mentioned, especially the 2nd time. I was accused of:

Running my own computer business and packing the kids in to earn extra money whilst doing that
Taking illegal drugs
Shouting and screaming and smashing objects around the house in a rage
Having 'gentleman callers' (basically prostitution)
Having wild parties with drugs when had overnight stays
Walking around the house naked when mindees were here
Having more children than I should have

I'm sure there was more but that's all I can remember from the top of my head.

I was NOT suspended. What they do when they visit like that is like a mini inspection of your setting (plus talking about the list of complaints) and check you're following the Welfare Requirements in the EYFS. On my 1st visit, I had a dragon of an inspector who pulled me up on 2 crazy stupid things (thought I was up to something because babies happened to nap at similar times and a fire safety issue because they slept upstairs). Because of this, my online report showed the complaint purely because she'd 'found something', even though she agreed she didn't believe the actual complaint. With the help of my dad, the parents of mindees (parents all wrote strong letters to Ofsted), I faught the decision and won. I even called some fire officers out to check my fire plan was ok and they agreed it was good. Took 6 months of hell to totally wipe it all but in the end, it all got wiped and I got an apology from Ofsted (they don't like to apologise grin). But, even with all that, I still was never suspended.

Have you any idea whether she received a phone call or a visit? I'm just wondering if they now suspend if they don't have the staff to come straight out? If so, that's very unfair. Either that or she really is accused of something pretty awful.

I hope for your sake that it's sorted nice and quickly but I doubt Ofsted will be able to give you any info at this stage?

I'm sorry you are having to go through this.

mad4mainecoons Sat 01-Oct-11 13:05:27

oh crikey! thanks everone for your input but im really worried now sad

we recieved a letter from ofsted this morning which states that she has been suspended due to an incident involving "corperal punishment of a child"!!! sad

i just cannot ever imagine her hitting a child, but that what it is, right? i have done a quick google and wikipedia seems to agree sad

OMG, and i trusted her totally, now i just dont know what to think. confused

i went to look around our local daycare centre and it did seem lovely but if i place dd there and then my minder gets her registration back, im not sure i would want to uproot dd again. and i would feel guilty then.

oh its such a horrid mess, i really feel for my minder if this is a false accusation but i need my childcare or ill lose my job and most of all a need dd to be happy and settled sad

so Corperal punishment anyone?? is is always hitting? or do ofstead have thier own definition <<clutching at straws emotion>>

happychappy Sat 01-Oct-11 13:18:04

Hey I'm a nanny and my charge told his mother that I smacked him about 2 months ago. Thankfully the mother is very sensible and my charge is going through a stage of inventing stories. When his mother explained this was very serious and his must tell the truth, he backtracked. Thank god.
Mad please do what you need to for the moment and then hear the story from ofsted if possible. Let them sort it out.

It must be a horrible situation for you and for your dd.

banana87 Sat 01-Oct-11 13:23:18

A year and a half I ago the exact same thing happened to us sad

Apparently, a child fell in her care and the parents shouted child abuse and neglect. Ofsted and the police were called to CM house and she was suspended pending investigation. SS were called and visited every family with a child in her care, and contacted our GP. The suspension was initially 6 weeks, then extended 3-4 times for an additional 6 weeks. In the end, we got a letter through that her registration had been cancelled sad.

To this day I feel like an awful mother. CM seemed great to me, came very highly recommended by HV, etc. But as your DD, mine was only 18 months and couldn't tell me anything. So I'm now left to believe the allegation was true and I subjected my child to it sad.

Based on that experience, my advice would be to run, very very far away and not look back. I don't believe ofsted would suspend for no reason.

We found another CM who is lovely and DD is still very happy there.

nannynick Sat 01-Oct-11 13:58:15

Sounds like it may be a case of a child saying to their parent - x smacked me.

Smacking is against Ofsted's rules but isn't illegal for a parent to do under UK law to my knowledge. So I suspect that Ofsted have suspended due to it being a child protection issue involving an allegation of assault on a minor (a child). It may be true, or false. Ofsted will investigate such as asking your childminder what happened and seeing the child/children concerned. It may be a case that another adult has made the accusation, such as they have seen x smack a child.

Physical Abuse is a Category One priority... see CIE Complaints (PDF)

Things like this can involve a lengthy investigation, possibly by the police initially. See JD v Ofsted where the tribunal could not do anything as the situation was being investigated by the police. The tribunal did say that they were aware of how this investigation affects the childminder's livelihood and thus "Ofsted bear a considerable responsibility to continue to press the police to resolve their enquiry quickly so that Ofsted can bring about their own conclusions with some alacrity."

In the case of LV v Ofsted the childminder was suspended pending investigation due to an injury to a child. The tribunal does not rule in terms of if something did or did not happen, all they rule on is if the suspension of the childminder is appropriate. It appears to me that the tribunal will typically rule that it is appropriate in cases like this where an accusation or physical evidence is being provided to show that a child has been harmed.

To me these cases seem to drag on for a long time. So your childminder could be suspended for quite a while, especially if the childminder denies doing whatever they are accused of doing (rightly so if they didn't do it, but if they did do it, then suggest they they admit it at the earliest opportunity).

ChippingIn Sat 01-Oct-11 14:07:23

It does sound like the child has told their parents that they were smacked or something. We all know how 'inventive' children can be or how they can misconstrue something. Just yesterday my friends DD ran into her and feel on her bottom - she then accused her Mum of pushing her over - she was stood still with her arms folded grin

As I said earlier, I'd talk to her and take her on as a nanny in the meantime if you are happy with her version of events.

RandomMess Sat 01-Oct-11 14:15:24

My child told my our CM had left her in the cot all day etc etc etc. Thankfully I know my CM very well and had looked after my older two as well. I caught my dd out as lying as I said "which baby cot?" (she no longer napped in the day) and she said hers upstairs!!!

Young children do lie unfortunately so it could be that, you just never know do you.

HSMM Sat 01-Oct-11 15:47:08

I had a child tell her parents I smacked her once. If they had reported it straight to Ofsted I would have been suspended, but fortunately they talked to me first and we went through the day. It turned out that the smack was in fact a time out, that the child was very cross about.

mad4mainecoons Sat 01-Oct-11 18:10:28

ok thanks, i feel calmer now.
my gut instinct is that she is innocent of any wrongdoing but six weeks is a long time to be withought childcare sad

maybe ill give her a call on monday and see if she has anymore idea of what the situation is - last time i spoke to her was before the ofsted people were coming to visit her and she had no idea what would happen.

thanks everone for you input.

ChippingIn Sat 01-Oct-11 18:19:56

Mad4 - is there any reason you are not considering paying her as a nanny for the time she's suspended?

nannynick Sat 01-Oct-11 18:47:05

Maybe the childminder can suggest other local childminders who have space, so you can use them on a temporary basis.

I don't think having this childminder as a nanny is a good idea given they have been suspended. I feel they need to be showing Ofsted that they will abide by the suspension, not find ways around it. Mad4 may not want the responsibilities of being an employer, plus the costs could be a lot higher, plus other factors to consider.

mad4mainecoons Sat 01-Oct-11 18:57:57

chippingin i would totally have her as a nanny, but she only looked after my dd one day a week and i know she looked after several others for more than one day so they will probably need her more, they may well have already asked her.

thanks nannynick i had not realised that i would then be her "employer" no i dont want the hassle especially now i have seen the daycare nursary and i know there is a decent alternative.

i just want to do the right and fair thing for dd and for this lovely lady sad

HavishamFish Sat 01-Oct-11 19:18:39

Hi - I had a similar situation recently - CM threatened with suspension because Ofsted didn't trust her abusive arse of an estranged h to keep away from the house.

We've now employed her as a p/t nanny & it's working well.

Depends on your judgment re: the allegation, really; obviously if you suspect it may be well-founded you wouldn't want to go down that route!

givemushypeasachance Sat 01-Oct-11 19:20:15

Just adding my two pence of knowledge - timescales are likely to be primarily influenced by what the police and social services are doing if they are involved; Ofsted always have to step back and wait for criminal and child protection investigations to finish before they can lift a suspension.

If someone has alleged that the CM used corporal punishment on a child, Ofsted would be obliged to refer this to children's services to see whether they wish to involve the police and conduct an investigation. Sometimes even quite a minor seeming event - maybe appearing to yank on a child's arm or what some people would describe as "tapping" a child, a very light smack - will get formally investigated with interviews and all sorts, other times agencies decline to get involved and consider it to be a "poor judgement/slightly rough handling matter that is best dealt with by Ofsted reviewing the CM's practices. What would have once been viewed as quite regular smacking is very clearly illegal for CM's to administer and that sort of thing should be formally looked at, along with anything more extreme such as slapping/belting which hopefully no one considers to be acceptable anymore.

If social services/the police are involved then the age of the child and what the parents are saying can be a factor. A very young child can't be interviewed so they would look at any medical evidence or something like a handprint/bruising, and what any witnesses are saying. Older children who have said something like "so-and-so hit me" would be video interviewed to see if their story remains consistent, and other children might be spoken to as well. It is processes like this that take a long time - investigations are carried out by the same sort of teams that look at far worse and more serious crimes than anything that is likely to have been alleged here, so they have to prioritise their work and something like a now-suspended CM alleging to use corporal punishment is quite frankly low on their list compared to children who are actively still at risk of death and serious injury.

That is little compensation to the suspended CM and the parents who rely on them for care, but unfortunately it's not an allegation at a nursery where the suspended person goes off on full pay and the nursery remains open - it's a real risk for a self employed carer who works alone.

mad4mainecoons Thu 06-Oct-11 19:32:17

hi all,

just an update, spoke to my CM over the weekend and she told me that there was a meeting taking place on thursday (today) to decide the outcome of the incident. she still could not give me any more details of what did or did not happen so im just so frustrated.

so i had not heard anything by teatime so i text her to see how it went. sadly a decision still has not been made and the suspension continues for another 2 weeks minimum. sad

so now im really stuck, my mum has been helping out but i cannot and will not continue to ask favours of her (she already has dd one day a week - and this second day is her only day off a week). so im left to looking at nursaries.

i think im going to have to put dd into one of our local nursaries otherwise im going to lose my job sad my employers have been understanding so far but there is only so much slack you can expect other members of staff to take up.

i feel awful about taking dd away from the care of this lady but with no fixed point at which she might be able to resume caring for her it feels like i have no choice sad

horrid situation, i feel guilty for my CM and DD and its all totally out of my hands.

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