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Safeguarding issue breach of contract?

(10 Posts)
DiStrangelove Tue 21-Jun-16 16:04:38


Does anyone know whether there is any precedent regarding what happens if you terminate a childminders contract due to safeguarding issues?

Our childminder made some completely inappropriate comments last week, claiming that the fact that we do not force our 3yo to cut his hair might turn him into a girl when he grows up. She also said that "some people" might consider this neglect. When I challenged her about this she terminated our contract with the correct notice period (leaving us without childcare for the 2 weeks before the summer holidays) BUT refused to discuss the issues I raised. She was very angry and I did not feel comfortable sending my son to someone who did not respect his uniqueness, was so angry with me and literally emailed me that "she would not be discussing anything" with us.

A childminder officer advised me that her comments where in breach of the early years guidelines (that I should report her to Ofsted) and that I had the right to terminate my contract and so I did. Childminder now says I have to pay the remaining 3 weeks of notice period and the officer has retracted her advice - saying she does not know what will happen in small claims court at all. If I don't pay she will take me to small claims court and in the contract there are no points on safeguarding.

The childminding association is refusing to talk to me. My husband has had to take time off work to look after our son and so our financial situation is more than dire. Is it worth going to small claims court or should we try and borrow the money to pay her and settle it?

The worst part is that I don't know what to tell my son. sad


OP’s posts: |
plimsolls Tue 21-Jun-16 16:09:27

What part of this is safeguarding?

HSMMaCM Tue 21-Jun-16 16:09:31

I'm not sure this is safeguarding? Unless you thought she was going to shout at your child? Of course you don't have to cut your son's hair if you don't want to. That was a silly thing for her to say!

She gave you notice to end the contract and you decided not to send him during the notice period. Unless there is more to it, then you should pay for the notice period.

NickNacks Tue 21-Jun-16 16:20:11

What are you specific safeguarding concerns? It seems you've just had a falling out over patenting choices and no longer want to see the notice period out. Completely your choice of course but it doesn't void the contract notice period.

Karoleann Tue 21-Jun-16 18:03:31

No, its not a safeguarding issue. Safeguarding is basically protecting children against neglect and/or abuse.

Her comments were very unprofessional though and does go against the early years guidelines. I would put in a complaint to OFSTED. It's none of her business what length hair your child has.

I'd recommend that you track down the exact wording in the early years guidelines (EYFS) part, I think it'll be in the bit deals with rights respecting and then send her an email quoting this. I think if you do this she's unlikely to take you to small claims.

lovelynannytobe Tue 21-Jun-16 18:16:11

I'd just send him in over the notice period and pay as usual. In the meantime just look for replacement. It is not safeguarding issue and your son is not in danger.
Yes she was unprofessional with her comments but that's all.

longdiling Wed 22-Jun-16 10:35:29

I'm wondering what a 'childminder officer' is?! I've never heard of one. If the childminding association you're referring to is PACEY then they wouldn't be able to advise you as they work on behalf of childminders really.

I think this type of a scenario is a problem for childminders and parents, if you've got to the point where you're unhappy enough to terminate a contract it's always going to be difficult/impossible to keep sending your child there. I wonder whether she would accept a compromise? Could you offer 2 weeks instead of the 4? I agree this doesn't look like a safeguarding issue and that you seem to be in breach of your contract but if you've essentially had a big falling out you're bound to feel uneasy about sending your child there.

SpoonintheBin Wed 22-Jun-16 12:39:34

I suspect the op is not telling us the full story. In this case I would really like to hear the other side.

I have looked after a little boy whose parents didn't want to cut his hair and it was a right pain. His hair was in his face all the time, will get dirty with food, paint, snot, etc. And the parents only washed it once a week it was pretty disgusting. At least with a little girl long hair can be pinned back or tied back. This may have been part of the comment from the childminder but the mum interpreted it the wrong way, which is why the cm in question refuses to negotiate.

It is not a child protection issue, although I have to tell you that part of our child protection training is that children with dirty hair, unwashed clothes can be clues that a child is neglected.

jannier Sat 25-Jun-16 18:04:53

Strange, who is this child-minding officer? Any one giving you advice would normally say that as its not safeguarding you have to follow the settings complaints procedure and only then if not satisfied you contact Ofsted.
From what you say the cm did make comments against equal opportunities which is not safeguarding, however if the issue was first raised due to issues like Nits and general neglect then the failure to act could if it happened be her call to refer to her safeguarding procedure. I have in the past asked that children's hair be tied up for safety and hygiene (climbing, messy play, cooking etc.). But as many cultures have requirements on hair it would be inappropriate to say Boys hair must be cut.
I wonder if this is one of a few things that have happened whilst you have used her services?

alibubbles Sat 02-Jul-16 14:30:23

Childminding Office, we last had one of those about 10 years ago! It is a shame as some of them were really helpful, same as the networks, all gone due to money!

Childminding Association, formerly NCMA? That also went a long while ago too, we now have Pacey who do help childminders and parents alike with contractual issues and have a helpline, but i think there might be a few more issues that have resulted in this breakdown.

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