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Co-operative childcare? another option being considered

(39 Posts)
Italiana Sun 28-Oct-12 10:39:41

This article in The Observer looks at co-operative childcare

and this is the editorial in response to it Both causing big discussion in Twitter

What do you think of co-operatives?
Looks like neither party has found a solution to the childcare debate
(hope the links have converted properly)

fraktion Sun 28-Oct-12 13:40:45

I can't see the editorial.

Personally I'm not a fan of the idea. I would rather it be centralised than run for profit even if that's for parents' profit.

Tanith Sun 28-Oct-12 16:05:03

I saw that comment and wasn't inpressed - talk about going backwards!

It depends on the type of childcare that parents want.

Do they want somewhere to leave their children, where they just play while unqualified adults keep an eye on them?

Or do they want good quality care from trained professionals providing carefully planned experiences and activities?

What price do they put on quality care?

Yea, I can cut my fees. Of course I can. I would have to cut my service to do it: no more on call, out of hours or overnight care (I'd have to get a 2nd job), no food, less activities, less craft, no trips, no playgroup, no new toys and equipment. No school runs - I could get rid of my car, then, and save on petrol and running costs. No internet, so I wouldn't exchange ideas and activities. Verbal handovers: no diaries or learning journeys. Oh, and I could move into a smaller house so we wouldn't have the playroom or garden. They could just sit in my front room and watch tv all day. I wouldn't bother with training - best hope your child doesn't have an accident! I won't be insured, even if they do.

Is that really what parents want? I know my parents would be up in arms at any one of the above but then, they aren't complaining about my fees: they appreciate me.

Interestingly, I had a parent come to visit recently who reckoned I was excellent value and that I ought to charge more for what I offered.

HSMM Sun 28-Oct-12 16:49:42

Good points tanith.

Romilly70 Sun 28-Oct-12 16:57:40

I don't even know where to begin; the problem is so much bigger than the cost of childcare.

For WOHM's it's great if they enjoy what they do and are able to afford good quality childcare. However, i suspect for a lot of WOHM's the issue is having to work for financial reasons, maybe not all would want to be SAHM's but it is rare to find part-time jobs which dovetail well with school hours and holidays and pay enough to allow a reasonable take home after paying for childcare in addition.

Women and children are not valued enough in society for politicians to care beyond securing their vote every 5 years to radically alter the system and fund it.

Mum2Luke Sun 28-Oct-12 19:54:15

I agree Tanith, we cms jump through hoops to get good OFSTED inspection results and we end up having to reduce our fees.

I am seriously thinking of giving up childminding, I am sick to death of competing with local nurseries who offer free sessions because they get government funding. Not had a phone call since August and then got let down angry.

I only charge £3.50 per hour part-time or £30 per day full-time which includes meals and playcentre visits, how much do parents think we should charge I wonder? I also offer sibling reduction so why am I not getting any calls? I got a Good in my last Inspection, I am able to go to the park/local museums etc and offer a home-cooked meal.

feralgirl Sun 28-Oct-12 20:21:04

I personally like the idea. We are exactly the family in the second paragraph; it's not worth DH working any more hours than he does atm because the 'job' he does as a PT SAHD is worth a lot more than he would earn at work. He is on the committee for DS's nursery anyway so has a hand in running the place already, the option of a co-op would just be a logical extension of what we already have.

I don't know what to say about the competition for CMs, there aren't any in our village and the teeny nursery is the only childcare option within walking distance. It must be really tough to be squeezed as you are all describing and to have more and more hoops to jump through wrt inspections etc sad

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 28-Oct-12 20:27:15

Tanith - I think a lot of parents, if they're being honest, would like something in between. Not somewhere that the kids are 'en masse' & just watching TV, but not the Ofsted Jumping Through Hoops variety of Childminding we have now. I think there should be more variety & options. People should be able to choose the kind of care they want for their children. If I was looking for childcare I would choose a nanny if I could afford it & a childminder if not, a nursery would not be for me. I would want a childminder that was 'home from home', doing 'at home' stuff as I would do (including the park, supermarket, toddler group, neighbours for coffee - whatever), not someone who was meeting all of Ofsteds ridiculous demands and making every single bit of the day 'A-Risk-Assessed-Child-Focussed-Learning-Experience' that needs to be documented in triplicate. I would want what that person would be doing with their own children and it sure as hell wouldn't be ticking all of Ofsteds little boxes.

Mum2Luke - I don't know where you live, so it's hard to say what your prices are like. Around here (SE) it's about £4.50 an hour, yet I have seen other MNers say they charge £20 per day. £30 sounds cheap to me. How many can you have per day max? You sound like the sort of person I'd be looking at if I wanted a childminder. How are others in your area doing? Have you pissed someone off who is bad mouthing you? (maybe nothing to do with your actual childminding but someone just being nasty?) Are you dropping off/collecting from the best school you can be (or is it determined by your own child?) Where are you advertising? Are you telling people you have vacancies? What hours are you offering? Do you come up on a google search for 'childminder, x area'? Do you advertise at the local schools, playgroups, toddler groups, surestarts etc?

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 28-Oct-12 20:29:52

I don't want my posts to be misunderstood. I think childminders, on the whole, do a fantastic job, for little reward and often little appreciation. It is Ofsted I have the objection to!

nannynick Sun 28-Oct-12 20:55:35

Labour revealed it is looking at "co-operative childcare", in which parents could take a stake in the nurseries they use and take a share of the profits, reducing childcare costs by about £150 a year.

What if the nursery made a loss, would the parents then have to pay more to cover the debts of the nursery? Do nurseries make that much profit - some will, others might not.

£150 a year saving... wonder if it's worth doing the paperwork for that - would there be much paperwork, meetings to attend, some parents being committee members. Maybe if any nursery thinking of doing this co-op thing, just had a loyalty scheme of some sort, so every 12 months the parents have used the nursery and paid all bills on time, they then get a reduction of £150 off their next bill.

AtoZandBackAgain Sun 28-Oct-12 22:16:55

Back in the Dark Ages (late 1980s) I worked for a large organisation in which many mothers had returned to work full-time once their children were of school age.

We all faced the problem of how to obtain child care during the school holidays, as these totalled approx 13 weeks (65 days) and our annual leave entitlement was only 25 days each.

We got together and decided to start our own holiday play group. We hired a venue, hired staff who had childcare qualifications, hired equipment and paid insurance etc. We shared these costs on a per child attending daily basis.

At lunchtimes we had a rota system for each parent to provide lunchtime cover so the hired staff could take their lunchbreaks. This scheme that we set up was approved by all the necessary authorities. By doing this we were able to obtain low cost (in fact 'at cost') childcare that enabled all the particpating mothers to contune to work during the school holidays. I say 'mothers' because and in those days childcare was seen more as the mother's responsibility than the fathers although some fathers did participate and many of the mothers were single parents.

We didn't make a profit so I suppose it was a form of co-operative. It ran for many years until the mid 1990s when it became the 'in thing' for large employers such as ours to set up their own corporate nurseries / play schemes. Our employer then took over the operation of the playscheme we had started and it folded a few years later - basically because without the direct and voluntary input of the parents, costs increased and also the employer decided too much organisation was required to run it at Easter, Christmas and half-term, so the parents looked elsewhere for childcare at these times and then continued to use that alterative childcare during the summer too.

I don't suppose what we did then would pass muster these days since the advent of CRB checks, Ofsted inspections etc, none of which we were subject to. But we did provide a safe, secure happy environment which our children looked forward to attending as they all got to know each other over the years they attended.

Happy days.

happychappy Sun 28-Oct-12 23:19:14

Ok childcare costs are rising simply because in the past they mostly dependent on people doing whose jobs who were not requiring training and they were often mums looking to fill their days while older children were in school with another earner in the house and therefore did not need to support families on that money. This has changed. How is it reasonable or fair that our society values so little the work that childcare providers do that it is often paid better to work as a cleaner than as a nursery nurse? I was offered a job recently of £100 a week, with a pay review after 6 months (lucky me) for a 45 hour week. When I pointed out that wasn't minimum wage, it was pointed out to me how ungrateful I was and she couldn't afford any more. Ok, sorry I'll starve and so will my children so you can pay me a ridiculously low wage.

In the recent years there has been major efforts to professionalise childcare with training and check upon check and demands of paperwork that were not there in the past. Yet, wages have not gone up with the demands asked.

I agree childcare is too expensive but maybe some imaginative thinking needs to be done so that the people who work with children get a reasonable wage and the parents gets help when needs. Perhaps tax breaks, real ones. Maybe make childcare tax deductable therefore making it more affordable?

Pitmountainpony Mon 29-Oct-12 04:16:23


Do they want somewhere to leave their children, where they just play while unqualified adults keep an eye on them?

So parents are unqualified adults but most manage to parent pretty well.....sorry call me a cynic but having some experience of nurseries I saw many staff who were simply unqualified to do much else.
I would rather have an intelligent committed parent any day to a 'qualified' person working on minimum wage.I am sure there are some excellent nursery staff out there but there are a lot of workers doing it like many young people as they have not worked out what else to do, and fallen into the job.
Give me the loving parent any day.

Pitmountainpony Mon 29-Oct-12 04:22:42

Being in the US where nurseries are often co ops and you can get day care in loving home based places for...wait for it $28 a day.......I do not know how anyone affords childcare in the as a parent yes I would be happy for a dat care to not have internet and less new toys etc if it means i can go out to work and actually bring some money home from the job.

The cost of living is high in the city where I live but still you can find a day care for less than 20 quid for a full day- drop off care for about 3 quid an hour in a nursery setting.
Clearly the UK nurseries are reaping much bigger profits, clearly to pay for that over priced house and everything else.
I feel really sorry for friends in the UK who must pay almost their entire wage in child care - bring on the co ops.People love them here-you end up with a Biochemist and a Lawyer looking after your child one day and an actor and musician ( all bringing their life experience to the job in hand) the next and the best is that the cost of care is much much lower.

lemonpuff Mon 29-Oct-12 04:58:40

Some nurseries in Canada are'not for profit' run by a parent board, all the fees going back into paying salaries, insurance, equipment, and some giving a hugh amount of time, not during the day to act as the treasurer etc.
Most parents would rather pay the extra £150 BUT it is a local nursery and the goverment pay a grant to help with the salaries.
Not sure why I posted this but it can work,my cousin ran one in Toronto.

Camelsshouldnteatcrisps Mon 29-Oct-12 07:15:53

We need to be able to do schemes like yours from the 90's AtoZandBackAgain , CRB checks are fair enough obviously but jumping through Ofstead hoops ought to be avoided or reduced to cut costs if it is being run by parents for their own children.

The article in the Guardian states that costs could be reduced by £150 a year by the co-op scheme, £150 p/a isn't going to tip the balance to make it worth while going back to work (unless I need another coffee and to read again?).

Italiana Mon 29-Oct-12 07:56:33

No you are right £150pa means £2.88per week savings!!! worth going back to works?
The article also say co-operatives for parents-nurseries but does not mention c/ not sure what Twigg is thinking of doing with us?
I am off to write to him next

How will parents share profits that are low for nurseries and c/ms and why should we share our hard earned money?
If I did I would end up on benefits myself...the article says some parents get £13,000 in benefits...that is where reform is needed...who gets the money and where does it go if it is given for childcare

The article says 'it is a mysery' why childcare is expensive but only interviews a parent not a provider who could present evidence of our costs to deliver
I am going to ring the Guardian later and see if I can talk to the journalist or at least write to her....I doubt our association will argue against the article

The article argues about the right of women to return to work but not that of women delivering care to earn a 'living wage' and be in work

Then it says some c/ms only earn £ that expensive against parents protected by the minimum wage of £6.19?
What it does not mention is c/ms who keep earnings low so not to lose tax credits themselves
It says c/ms are disappearing in droves... not true.. but they will if deregulation kicks in and does not mention Truss who wants thousands of women to come in as c/ms in her proposals

It mentions the LA funding as being low for the free education (true) but does not mention that c/ms are 'unable' to deliver unless they belong to a Network and even though the DfE has removed this barrier LAs still do as they free education is not 'universal' and Beverly Hughes, mentioned in the article, is the very children minister I asked a question at NCMA conference 2008 'would you now allow all c/ms to deliever free entitlement?' as EYFS 2008 had just come out...her answer 'NO they must belong to a network'

It does not mention the growing 'red tape' since new govt came in power, loss of training, costs of m'ship to be badly represented, EYFS reform that has actually increased paperwork not dicreased it

....and so far no one out to defend us providers apart from NDNA and PLA whose spokesperson are constanlty interviewed and speak for their members

I thought the article came very very close to the truth but left out the most important details....but gave me some sense of satisfaction that neither party knows what to do or knows the solution....on we campaign!!!

BellaTheGymnast Mon 29-Oct-12 09:16:45

For me there are some essentials, like CRB checking, home safety checking and knowing what to do in an accident. I would need these from any group/person looking after my child.
However, I'm happy that my child is playing with other children, going out to the shops, feeding the ducks and coming home with the odd drawing sometimes. I'm not sure she needs carefully planned experiences and activities, or diaries and 'learning journeys'. If she was at home with me we wouldn't be spending our day following a curriculum, so for £3 an hour I don't expect that of my CM.
What I think would be missing from a cooperative approach would be the love that my CM has for DD.

Tanith Mon 29-Oct-12 09:25:08


Yes, parents are unqualified to look after other people's children. It's a whole different ball-game, as you might say.
How does your model cope with children with additional needs, behavioural problems, severe allergies and medical needs, all of which I have been trained to deal with. What about abuse accusations? How do they keep children and adults safe?

A lawyer, biochemist, artist and musician are not professional, trained childcarers. It's disrespectful to my profession to say they could do a better job than we can, and cite a couple of examples you've witnessed in nurseries in your own country.
I am an amateur musician - do I set out to do the musician's job? I teach the children in my care many things - do I offer my services to schools so they can save on qualified teaching staff? I know about all about family law and, come on, all they do is read up on it from books! I could save hardworking, divorcing families an absolute fortune!
In the longer term, I wouldn't be anything like as good as the trained, qualified professional. I could even inadvertently do quite a lot of damage due to my ignorance.
I say again: what price do you put on qualified, professional childcare?

You do raise an interesting point in one of your throw-away remarks, however. That "over-priced" house. I'm afraid all houses cost a fortune over here, cost of living is very high and wages for too many people are very low. Subsidies for childcare, that are much higher in other countries, are not enough here.

Perhaps that's the real issue. It's one the Government doesn't want to look at, of course: it's much easier to accuse childcarers of charging too much.

You know what this all reminds me of? Labour's "Rip-Off Britain" campaign when they first came to power. After their much-heralded investigation, they quietly admitted that most retailers were simply covering their costs. I wonder if the same thing will happen here?

Tanith Mon 29-Oct-12 09:40:54

ChippingInLovesAutumn (so do I grin)

My own 3 year old daughter is among my minded children. I assure you that I offer the same type of care that I want for her. Many childminders have their own children and do the same.
Of course we offer a home from home environment: we are at home.

Tanith Mon 29-Oct-12 09:43:26

Be careful what you wish for re EYFE: we offer it and have to subsidise it ourselves.

amyboo Mon 29-Oct-12 09:48:06

You can't keep the standards in UK childcare and cut costs. It's just not going to work. If parents want to have OFSTED inspected nurseries, with 3 children to every carer, then you have to pay for it. I live in Belgium, where there is an average/permitted rate of around 5/6 children per carer. Creches are still inspected, but perhaps not to the OTT standards that are used in the UK. Creches here are nice, comforting places that look after kids, feed them, help them play and learn, all from the age of about 3 months-2.5 years (maternity leave is only 15 weeks here and kids start school at age 2.5). Most creches cost a maximum of €600 a week full-time, some are cheaper. They're all semi-subsidised by the government, and parents can deduct a certain percentage of the creche fees they pay from their annual tax bill.

In short, what I'm saying is that there is middle ground. Childcare in the UK is stupidly expensive and many of my UK-based university-educated friends who were formally in decent jobs now can't afford to go back to work full time due to the cost of childcare. Compare that with here, where pretty much all mums go back to work anywhere between 3 and 9 months after having their children.... Not to mention that there are flexible working schemes here, funded by the government, that also allow parents to reduce their hours when they return to work. In my opinion, the only way to achieve cheaper/more affordable childcare is either to increase government subsidy of it, or to change the standards expeected of nurseries.

Italiana Mon 29-Oct-12 09:50:05

Totally agree Tanith...I am in no position to subsidise free childcare to parents...why should we and why do other countries do it so well and funded by govt?

My LA offers £3.50 for the FE...what is the point of joining the network for that amount?
however my LA has now opened the network for all c/ms while before it restricted the spaces to 60 only...
we are now courted because the 2 yo funding needs c/ this the time to bring this anomaly out in the open?
that is one of the things missing in the article and has been by bugbear for years!

amyboo Mon 29-Oct-12 09:50:46

Sorry that should have read €600 per month full time, not per week!

Erebus Mon 29-Oct-12 09:53:00

Yes, it strikes me that the real problem is so fundamental that it can't be tackled: the ridiculous cost of living in the UK; and imho, it was a dark day when the government of the day decided to 'allow' two incomes to be assessed towards a mortgage loan. House prices went up overnight and with them, the need for both parents to work to pay it.

I recall several friends of mine who heaved a (financial) sigh of relief when their DC were old enough to go to private school as suddenly their outlay dropped dramatically!

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