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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)

Italiana Fri 02-Nov-12 22:48:59

Some c/ms also have EYPS but it is the perception that matters...we are not valued and, above all, many parents fail to understand that 0-6 is the most important phase for children....
High quality makes a huge different and it has a price some are prepared to pay

Mum2Luke Fri 02-Nov-12 22:38:35

Pitmountainpony Tell me what do you think you should pay for good quality care for your child then? I pay Public Liability Insurance, I go on Safeguarding Chidlren courses, I never discuss mindees business with other parents and I am qualified in Paediatric First Aid as well as having a Good OFSTED inspection.

People will pay more for a cleaner than for childminders!

Mum2Luke Fri 02-Nov-12 22:33:54

I agree too Tanith, I don't know about childminders (or babysitters I think they are called) over there but us childminders are running a business, many of us have qualifications in childcare ranging from NVQ Level 3 to Foundation Degrees and Honours Degrees in some cases. How can anyone say we are not professional in the same way as nurseries?

Most childminders are mothers who have their own children and in my case adult children, don't profess to know it all but have 22 years of being a Mother so I know a bit at least.

We just want a fair deal, in my area alone there are 10 private nurseries offering 'free sessions' to parents, how on earth can I compete with them? No matter how many fliers i put around (thanks for the suggestion, I have tried that but not one single enquiry), have also put business cards on cars but found them on the floor in the car park sad when I went back later.

Tanith Fri 02-Nov-12 08:57:20

Pitmountainpony: you said "here in the US" so I'm assuming your experience at the present time is of the US childcare profession. You certainly don't seem to know much about childminders!

You also say you prefer intelligent, committed, loving parents for your childcare. Are you really trying to tell us we're not any of these things? Are you adding to the insult by claiming, on a board full of nannies and childminders, that you don't think we're professional?

I'm trained and qualified to care for all types of children, and deal with all kinds of needs. A parent is not. I have already touched on some of the service I offer above. This thread is not about my personal childminding service, though.

I don't accept that we're too expensive, either. I think you reaffirmed my observation that these co-ops are just a way of allowing better off people to avoid childcare costs.

I also think your objection is not so much to "professional" as it is to "paid".

Tanith Fri 02-Nov-12 08:21:05

Chippinglovesautumn: I'm not sure it is. I thought you were talking about Ofsted and tickboxes, and that's not what I'm talking about at all.
The EYFS is a play-based curriculum and categorically says it's not intended as a checklist. Have you read it?
I offer the care I give to my own daughter: she's there with me. How can that not be a home from home experience? confused

ChippingInLovesAutumn Fri 02-Nov-12 01:13:22

Tanith - being 'at home' does not mean a child will get a home-from-home experience. The whole 'we do so much more than watch over them while they play' is exactly what I'm talking about.

Mum2Luke - I think you'll find it's £20 for 3 months?! Have you thought about a letter box drop? Flyers through vistaprint are really cheap and you could just do a couple of streets each day? I hope things pick up for you soon.

Pitmountainpony Fri 02-Nov-12 00:25:19

I am from the UK Tanith and I have first hand witnessed nurseries there
Please tell me what the great deal more is that childminders do- keeping kids safe whilst they play sounds appropriate to me.
Actually the biochemist and lawyer have both chosen to stay at home with their kids so I guess they are watching their budget like everyone else.
The point is that there is some really affordable child care here- very good quality too and I hear that in UK it is really expensive.
I am sure a child minder can be professional but it is not a profession as I understand one so I do not expect to pay a small fortune to them to keep my child safe and looked after.

Mum2Luke Tue 30-Oct-12 15:45:29

Hi Chippininlovesautumn I live in the Greater Manchester area and childminders like myself are having to be competitive with our prices yet still try to earn a wage after outgoings are taken (Insurance, food etc). There are so many private nurseries popping up and because this area is quite high with unemployment so many people choose nurseries with the free entitlement sessions which is fair enough but we cms tend to lose out.

Also there are so many people choosing to register as childminders because of job redundancies and cutting down on childcare costs by becoming childminders so there are not many parents wanting our services.

I have had to take a second job as a casual catering assistant (dinner lady) in local schools while I wait for people to enquire. I have advertised more or less everywhere, am on the local Family Information website, NCMA and uk (which I can't reply to until i upgrade but cannot afford the £20 per month to do so sad). Many shops, Child centres with nurseries attached and even libraries are not letting us advertise so i don't know how we are supposed to get work. I might be applying for work as a relief nursery Nurse after Christmas as I have no family locally to ask to help with childcare for my 10 year old ds and we get no help with childcare.

Tanith Tue 30-Oct-12 14:36:57


If you're talking about the US system, then I can understand your comments to a certain extent. My understanding from American parents is that a lot of childcare in the US is pretty poor quality. That's not the situation here in the UK, where the majority is good or outstanding - and that includes childminders.

It makes no difference whether or not you regard childminders as professionals, especially if you have no experience of British childminders: in this country, they are professionals and do a great deal more than simply watch over the children while they play.

Another problem with your co-operative model is its exclusivity. You mention a lawyer, a biochemist etc (incidentally, those professionals can't afford childcare? Really?). Where are the shop workers, the gardeners, the hairdressers? Are they admitted? Sounds more to me like privileged, well off parents avoiding childcare fees.
In the UK, nurseries and childminders take on children from all kinds of backgrounds.
In this country, of course, they'd have to be pretty well off to afford the hall hire and insurance!

Italiana Tue 30-Oct-12 14:25:28

Co-operative will not work because nurseries are struggling with subsidising the free education anyway....I repeat I have no intention of sudsidising parents their free I care and educate I want to be rewarded for said some people want a lot for nothing...I want a living wage

This is the UK not Sweden where childcare has huge investment from the govt and staff without qualifications do not get anywhere near children
Look at Nutbrown review and you will see her recommendations for investing in the workforce...some recognition would help

Child benefit is about to be drastically cut as have other benefits making childcare more expensive to parents while our costs for delivery increase
Parents still have c/vouchers which is a tax saving scheme...I don't get that

Childminders are professionals and have been for a long time...we look after children and qualify to meet their needs and know about child development called 'expertise and knowledge' said you do your job without training we do it because it is a career

In this country c/ms have always been seen as trailing behind and despite the EYFS that feeling still comes out in such unhelpful remarks...unfortunately we are also badly represented
Do not judge c/ms professional or otherwise until you have seen what our skills and knowledge can produce in terms of professionalism

Pitmountainpony Tue 30-Oct-12 00:18:16


The co ops here have trained staff members and the parents help and they work great.
I worked in a nursery- none of the staff were qualified.Some were simply brilliant intuitive carers of children some were indifferent- all of us were paid a pretty low wage- I did not expect any more as i had no qualification apart from a desire to earn a living by doing my best to look after children in my care.Much prefer the co op system were people are not simply doing it for money.

I am afraid that I do not see child minders as professionals- they offer an invaluable service but they are doing something parents across the world do day in and day out with no training so I do not think they do justify a professional salary-which pushes the cost of childcare up,
I have a cap I am willing to pay-7- 8 quid an hour for one to one and 3-4 pounds an hour

The UK has some excellent benefits- for a start child benefit- what is that all about just getting paid for having kids- believe me I would love to have it but it is a pretty unjustified give away- unless you are really in need.
In the US there is no subsidised anything- no free nursery- school does not start till nearly 6 for us due to DS's b day.
The UK is a very attractive place in terms of benefits- that is why so many wish to immigrate there.

Italiana Mon 29-Oct-12 14:31:02

More explanation on co-operative nurseries...but no mention of c/ms
In my view this is a daft idea but wonder what you think

Woozley Mon 29-Oct-12 10:04:19

Sounds like a good idea. There have been barriers to this recently where people have tried to do things informally, such as doing quid pro quo childcare for each others shifts. Just the sort of thing the Government should butt out of really. I don't think childminders should have to provide the EYFS curriculum though for one thing. This has just increased costs for them and parents. Whereas what most parents want (I imagine) is something informal, kids being cared for as if they were in their own home. Mine both started pre-school at 2.5 so were getting EYFS at nursery plus at childminders (though she only played lip-service to it, which is why I liked her).

Some kids DO need extra help and yes yes, the differences start right from early on and the sooner this is picked up the better. But most are fine and it's using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

fraktion Mon 29-Oct-12 09:54:01

You know we're looking at this the wrong way.

We need to look at the actual cost of a childcare space, then how much the Govt can afford to put in, then how much the parents would need to cover based on income instead of working out how much to give parents in tax credits or vouchers or free hours.

I know the Daycare Trust produces info on the cost of childcare - how accurate is that? It comes to around £4/hour as an average. Is that even remotely realistic in terms if how much it costs to provide?

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!

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

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

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 09:48:06

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.

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.

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 09:25:08


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?

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.

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!!!

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?).

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.

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