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Childminder ratios and other issues

(26 Posts)
Fluffyflower57 Wed 09-Jan-19 02:42:41

Firstly let me apologize, this is very long winded & just feel I need to get some things off my chest.

My son has been attending a childminders for almost 2 years.

She is a nice lady. I feel my son is cared for. However, I don't think she interacts as much as she could or has any focus on the early years program. (Never been informed of milestones she's pushing for, reports of my sons progress etc) I've always felt she's more of a babysitter than a childminder, and I've come to accept this as I need her so I can work.

She has been unreliable in the past, such as meetings at her childs school, her children falling ill, and training days. I have been told these on the day or a day prior so then had to struggle to find last minute alternative childcare. (I do understand this is one of the cons of a childminder but surely training days and school meetings would be planned in advance?)

There's been times she hasn't been completely truthful aswel. On a trial period when my son started she handed me a list of activities she does day to day, with times down the side. After several months I realised my son was included in her school pick ups and drop offs. Which take her about an hour before and after school (she's used as abit of a taxi service picking up different kids and taking them different schools) I felt annoyed I wasn't informed. (I then used to drop him off later & pick him up earlier to avoid this but still had to pay).

In the booklet I was given it showed me pictures of children at the zoo, farms, trips to the beach etc. My son has been to the odd playarea, the park over the road & a play group at the childrens centre.

In the summer, I found her mother and grandmother sat in the living room with cartoons on. After the second drop off, I asked why they was there and she said they was staying for the summer. (Visiting from abroad) and that she'd informed ofsted and they was happy with this. She assured me my son was never left unattended with them & whilst I wasn't completely happy with this, I let it go. Again more annoyed at the lack of communication.

On her website she has pictures of my son (some blanked out, some not) when I signed the forms, I requested no pictures anywhere. Social media or play group. God only knows if my sons face is on the wall of some building. I've not approached this because I'm under enough stress through other things.

Now the 3:1 child ratio.
My son used to attend 3 days, but from September he's only been attending Fridays, 9am-3pm. I ideally wanted a full day 9am-6pm as I can't change my shift at work and my childminder refused to let me have it with funding. She was pushing to have him for Tuesday aswel although I've never used it (I don't need it) she will have him Fridays 9-6pm during the holidays because I pay for it.

From around September I noticed there was a new baby about 6-7 months. I have now received a text saying down to another parents days at college changing, her baby and her toddler will be joining on fridays. This brings us to 1 under 1. 1 at 18months, 1 at 2 half, and my son who's 3. She knows she's over the child ratio and has explained in her text she has the authority from our local early years practitioner (which I do believe) however, I most definitely don't feel comfortable her watching all these children at once. Especially as my son is very well behaved. (He will literally just sit and play cars or watch t.v.) I also think he'd help her with the other 3..

She's said this is under continuing care for the children. But this baby isn't new. I never pick up my son on a friday as I work until late but my ex has said he's seen her with both of these children before, so believe she's doing this now to cover her back.

Regardless I'm now pulling him out & have the stress of finding something else on such short notice. This starts next week. I have expressed my concerns about her meeting the individual needs of the children, and all I've got back is she can swap my day. She knows full well I can't pick and choose my shifts.

I have signed a contract stating I'll give 4 weeks notice but honestly want to pull him out now. If I find elsewhere could I transfer my funding straight away? Is there a waiting period? Am I too soft in how I've handled things? Or is this all completely acceptable? Also how likely is it for college days to change?

So sorry for the long post & thank you for taking the time to read it. smile

OP’s posts: |
jannier Wed 09-Jan-19 08:11:06

So regardless of the other on going problems is real question is I want to leave now and not pay notice can I?
She is allowed to take on this number of children providing she has risk assessed and is confident she can meet their needs including developmental ones of all the children and that the parents are aware of her variation. It has been clarified by Ofsted that they have never said it can not be for new business, but a change of day would not be new business but continuity of care.
Have you discussed your concerns with her and asked about your sons progress and next steps?
Funding, settings can determine which sessions they will offer funding for so she is allowed to say not after 3 and to offer other sessions its up to you if you use them. She will be getting a lower rate of pay for these hours so many settings do have restrictions on hours and often ask for additional payments for consumables and voluntary donations, opt out of providing food or make an additional charge if they do provide it (you can provide your own).
The other things, again have you ever discussed them with her?
Family staying, this is allowed up to 6 weeks as long as they are never left alone with the children.

Fluffyflower57 Wed 09-Jan-19 09:18:15

Thank you for replying

If she has risk assesed then surely this is something that has been going on for a short period and to have requested with early years? My main issue and pet peeve is lack of communication in all areas. Why hasn't this been brought up prior so I can find alternative if parents aren't happy? Are parents then just expected to make do? I have spoken to her about this and she's just said nothing she can do, apart from change my sons day. I also think she has had these extra children from September but only been approved now.

I now have the choice of sending him, whilst I feel she isn't meeting the needs of the children. Tbh I didn't feel like she meeting those needs in the first place.... my ex has seen her at playgroups with her back to my son whilst they was playing outside & a gate being open. My son has never been one for running off thankfully.

I think she'll get all 15 hours funded but he only attends 6 on the friday. He used to be on paid hours on a fri so would have the entire day but once funding kicked in, (sept) it was only after then I was informed he isn't covered during these hours.

My son is under speech and lang and under a consultant to see if he has delays, he has food anxiety, he will only eat a bread and butter and snacks I provide. She has never expressed any concerns with his speech or development, only with his eating.

Whilst I did trust her mother and grandmother, it was more of lack of communication. I did ask if they was dbs checked and she said they didn't need to be... but if it was a male family member, I'd of pulled him out tbh just wouldn't feel comfortable with my son around men who are from overseas and not DBS checked.

Looks like I'm gunna have to suck it up. A friend said she will have him until I find somewhere else.. I am tempted to ring early years only to see how I go about transfering the funding etc

OP’s posts: |
jannier Wed 09-Jan-19 13:29:34

ok many issues here but, If you have had issues especially safety ones have you immediately raised them? So many people use a service for an extended period of time then when they decide to leave try to rely on stuff from the past as an excuse not to fill their side of the contract, the argument then is well if you were not happy why did you not try to resolve the issue (in terms of communication, activities etc. ) or raise formal complaints on safety as no body would continue to use any service for anything if they knew it to be unsafe and not even try to get it changed....so when did the x see this what did he do at the time and what di you do as soon as you found out?

With regard to ratios, no they do not have to get permission from any local authority or Ofsted they can self vary, the requirement to get a variation has not existed for years (blame cost cutting and the government free childcare scheme where they are paying less than going rate to providers and encouraging providers to pile the children in to compensate), the CM will do on doing risk assessments as children's abilities and needs change.

Orlande Wed 09-Jan-19 13:32:38

The only real issue I can see is that she is using photos in a way you haven't given permission for. You should raise this with her.

If you aren't happy with her service then give notice according to your contract.

jannier Wed 09-Jan-19 13:34:30

School meetings, often arise at short notice, once yours starts school you will realise that schools think you only have one chid and no job so will assume you can drop things and go, especially if its to discuss issues like special education, behaviour, extra support, to get witnesses to incidents, to discuss why teacher is not giving reading books. Training days are booked in advance. Plays, Sports days, etc. you would think the dates were set at the beginning of year but in all the schools I've had dealings with notice is very short maybe if your lucky 2 weeks and in mine no siblings or other children allowed, special awards and birthday assemblies may be Monday for Friday or even less notice.

jannier Wed 09-Jan-19 13:50:07

truthfulness - at first meeting did you ask about school drop offs, if so was she doing any at the time or did she say no I don't do any? Was this prior to her own child starting school.....It is part of many childminders work children go to school, if yours stayed yours would need to go to school, but the school run can be fun and educational which maybe why it takes an hour. We never hurry as we are too busy discovering and photographing fascinating things. Manhole covers (numbers, letters, shapes, patterns, what are they for, how many can we find can we spot anything else that shape) animals, bin collections, roadwork's, the photos are used by the children to explore in messy play, make puzzles, role play and much more all meeting their individual next steps. Learning in the early years is all about play. The EYFS does not require written plans, written diaries, written reports, many do them but they don't have to what they should be able to do is explain where the child is developmentally, how they are being supported and work with you, Have you asked her?
Trips out, chidlrne should be out in the local environment but expensive trips like ZOOs are not a requirement and unless you are paying for them (and similarly and other children) you cant insist they go peoples finances are really stretched if the cm can no longer afford a £50 outing and parents cant or wont pay she cant do them, similarly she may no longer have transport, children may come or go at times making it impossible ....have you talked to her?

You keep saying communication but what have you tried? How does she know your unhappy?

Funding as explained the provider can set session times and can say I will only do x number of sessions between this and this time the same as any nursery or school if you say no I'm not going to school every day it doesn't mean the school is not paid for the session you don't use it is a business (even schools are businesses nowadays) you obviously had some discussion when she offered you the additional funded session. If you wanted more information why did you not ask? Why are you surprised you have to pay the additional hours outside the funded session?

FairyLightBlanket45 Wed 09-Jan-19 14:02:50

You are not happy with the care (and I agree with you on some of these points - you’ve made the choice to leave. I’m afraid you will have to pay the notice (even if you don’t use it) as you are contract bound.

In my county, funding cannot be transferred or increased until the next head count week, at the start of each term. So your timing could be unfortunate here or you could be in the absolute nick of time - give your local authority a call ASAP and ask the question about moving the funding. You may have to pay full for your notice as you will be claiming the hours elsewhere.

She isn’t allowed to claim all 15 hours if you are only using 6. You are free to spread your entitlement across more than one setting so the remaining 9 hours should be be left for you to claim elsewhere.

My nursery only allows funding to be used between 9-12 and 1-4 - additional hours are all paid for - this is common due to lack of money that comes with funded places. So she is allowed to charge you for 3-6 if she wants.

Give you LA a call or your new setting and they can help you deal with the funding - hope it goes ok finding a new place smile

Fluffyflower57 Wed 09-Jan-19 15:42:41

I'm not happy with the child ratios, I'm not pulling him out because of past issues, just wanted to explain how I've found her to be unprofessional at times.. I have been wanting to move him elsewhere for a while but didn't particularly want to disturb his rountine.

Hence I've only just recently discovered they can have more children than I presumed 3 under 5.

In terms of school, my job will have to come first in most cases unless my son is in an accident or serious incident. Providing a roof our our heads is my utmost priority.

In all honesty I assumed she dropped off her own children which would take around 15 mins to and from. After I found out she was picking up and dropping off other children, I requested later start and earlier finish times at my expense. My son gets quite bad car sick & whilst she assured she never left him unattended in the car, I still didn't like the idea of in and out the car..

I've asked questions about his speech and language and development as he's under observation and she's always insisted he's fine at where he is.

In terms of trips we're next to the seaside, and there is a local farm that's free. She has a zoo pass for herself and under 3s are free. I'm not expecting expensive trips weekly but find it disheartening how he's never been on any... or to the big local park. Only thesmall one across the road from her.

I've spoken to her on several occasions regarding these issues such as school pick ups. Hours etc. That she never makes herself fully clear... and can only apologise when letting me down on short notice.

Guess I'm also comparing my friends childminder who really does seems really focus driven for the kids. They go somewhere 'new' weekly but do all sorts during the week. Her son has learnt loads and she goes above and beyond for her children. Guess I wouldn't know if my son is sat in front of the TV all day because he can't communicate properly.

I told her I didn't want the extra session, but she could claim for it if she wishes. My hours prior to the funding was 9-6pm. It was her who said the funding would replace it. So I assumed I'd get the same to which then I didn't.

Fairylight, I think I'll have fell unlucky. Hope I can transfer the funding over. Even if I have to wait 4 weeks. Thank you will give them a ring.

OP’s posts: |
GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Wed 09-Jan-19 15:44:17

Her ratios are fine.

Yes you do have to pay notice.

Orlande Wed 09-Jan-19 15:55:23

It's fine for you to be unhappy with the service she provides but as others said you still have to abide by your contract.

Fluffyflower57 Wed 09-Jan-19 16:38:47

But also worried if I can't transfer the funding elsewhere? Even after 4 weeks?. As fairylight said I might have to wait until the next term?. Ringing my local authority tomorrow, as have company atm.

OP’s posts: |
HSMMaCM Wed 09-Jan-19 16:55:28

The main issue is the photos I think. CMs run their businesses in different ways and you need to find the one that works for you. Ask your LA if you can transfer funding and give your contractual notice. There will be someone out there that works for you. Good luck.

Fluffyflower57 Wed 09-Jan-19 17:05:15

Thank you x

I really want my friends childminder but she's constantly full. Once I give my notice, I'll be requesting she takes the pictures down.

OP’s posts: |
ForgivenessIsDivine Wed 09-Jan-19 20:26:56

I understand this from your perspective. It does sound like there have been a number of issues that have all added up and this is the last straw.

The notification of the change in ratios did not give you enough time to find something else or transfer over your funding though if she is approved I don't think you have a contractual reason not to comply with her terms of notice.

CustardSliceKid Wed 09-Jan-19 21:08:14

The thing is, anyone who cares for your child will always do things differently from you and some will really grate. But overall, you pick your battles if the balance is right. It sounds as though the balance isn't right for you and, most importantly, the trust is gone: I'd say move.

Trips: childminders do vary. Our first childminder said they occasionally took the kids to country parks but this never happened in a year. But overall, we were very happy with the care.

As it was, we moved area and our current childminder is amazing. I don't know what she's on but I want some of it! She takes them out and about a lot - local parks, coffee shops, the library, sometimes bigger trips such as soft play, pick your own fruit farms in summer, country parks.

Our CM does the school run every day but only to and from one school and always on foot unless the weather is atrocious. This was important to me and I did check when I first met her: I didn't want my DC spending half the day in the car being ferried around.

Our CM is also over her numbers on one day. She highlighted this to me (and we agreed to swap one of our days so she would only be over numbers on one day rather than two). I know she's very capable and I trust her to know what she can handle in terms of numbers.

So none of those things in themselves would be a deal breaker for me - but that's because the balance is right for us and we trust our childminder. And communication is good - unless it's norovirus/illness, I actually think cancelling childcare on the day is pretty unprofessional.

itsaboojum Thu 10-Jan-19 18:30:57

Certainly you’d have to be very lucky to get more than 24 hours' notice of a meeting at our school.

In my county, one day’s notice is also normal for most training courses. Funding cuts hit the county’s Early Years training programme hard. The majority of courses are fully booked by state school and school nursery staff before anyone else is notified they’re going to run. Childminders have little option but to go on the 'reserve' list and hope for a call to say they can replace someone who has dropped out e day before the course.

itsaboojum Thu 10-Jan-19 18:41:00

Transferring funding between settings depends on local rules, so ask your local authority EY Funding office. In my county, a parent can transfer if the setting they are leaving agrees to release the obligation. Otherwise the parent has to wait until the next 'headcount' period (in our case, that’s half a term.)

I agree with other members that there would be no cause to this you could avoid your agreed notice period.

This sort of thread is something of a recurring theme. A parent decides to leave and wants to avoid their contractual obligations, citing a huge list of problems they never previously considered worth addressing seriously. You just don’t use supposedly sub-standard goods/services for two years then expect money back.

planespotting Thu 10-Jan-19 19:18:34

The main issue here, objectively is the photos.
She is in serious breach of trust and contract using those photos.
That alone is a problem.

You need to tell her to remove them straight away. I think she will have to allow no payment of notice with all the problems you have described.

Fluffyflower57 Thu 10-Jan-19 19:27:58

They aren't reasons for not giving notice...I never said they was. I said how I've found her to be unprofessional in the past.

My reason for not giving notice was because of the change in ratios on short notice. If she'd of given me 4 weeks, I could've gave her 4 weeks. Glad to see it works both ways. Also I'm not expecting 'money back' I'd want to transfer the funding somewhere else such as nursery asap. I don't feel my son will be looked after properly with so many young children.
So now will have to borrow a friend until the funding starts again.

As I said in terms of school, if they want a meeting to discuss my sons education, behaviours, extra support etc they'd have to wait until I was available, as providing a roof over our heads is my utmost priority. Obviously if it was serious, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

I need to rely on someone for childcare, (it's also what I was previously paying for) if it's more than acceptable to have so much time off, will definitely be putting him in a nursery.

I have spoken to early years and explained the situation. He said to give 4 weeks notice & I can transfer my notice. smile

OP’s posts: |
Fluffyflower57 Thu 10-Jan-19 22:55:05

Also as her ratio has increased she will be paid/funded for the extra child. If I was to leave without notice, she'll be no worse off financially....
Regardless she's getting 4 weeks notice from me, even though I don't like it.

If the children wasn't so young and taking so much of her time. Say she had 4, 3 year olds I'd probably be okay with that as the care would be shared, but babies and toddlers need constant care and thus I believe she cannot meet my childs needs.

100% will be telling her about the photo's. Not at all acceptable. I should've approached the subject when I saw them. Only reason I didn't is because I'm soft and thought it might help her business.

OP’s posts: |
HSMMaCM Thu 10-Jan-19 23:31:11

I'm glad you've been able to transfer your funding. That must be a relief.

Fluffyflower57 Fri 11-Jan-19 00:04:37

It is massive weight off, thank you xx

OP’s posts: |
1CantPickAName Sun 13-Jan-19 20:52:23

if your childminder has been getting funding payments for Tuesdays and Fridays and your child only attends on Fridays, I would be tempted to tell her that if she doesn't let you leave immediately without the 4 weeks notice , you will inform the local authority about her over payments! Most local authorities will only pay for sessions that the child actually attends otherwise its fraud

jannier Mon 14-Jan-19 13:24:19

1CantPickAName......blackmail of course is fine......

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