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childminder - safety concern - contract breach???

(13 Posts)
burge1 Fri 05-Jun-09 20:24:03

My childminder got a dog about 6 months ago, initially held or in another room. Now it's running loose with by 3 year old and 5 year old boys and 2 others that childminder looks after. It always jumps up at my 3 year old and he had scratches on face. I requested nicely she keep dog in separate room to avoid further scratches, or potentially more serious incident.First reaction was she wasn't going to 'confine' dog (2 hours in living room is what it would be). Next day when I tried to explain I needed her to do this she said to end our contract and I agreed. Then she said she'd put dog in another room to 'see how it goes' in a very resentful way. Also my husband collected children Tuesday and found our two boys plus a 6 and 8 year old unsupervised on the trampoline with no net. Her response to my concern over this was 'you've never complained before' my response was 'no, I've never knew all 4 kids on it at once!!' Decided to stop my kids going to her asap.
i have paid her for the week she's done this month but feel it unfair I pay her for remaining 3 weeks = £280 as I've had no choice due to safety. She says I have to give months notice, however initially she said to end it, 2ndly surely she's in breach over safety issues??? I am right?? I tried to sort it out nicely but she's now nasty over the money which isn't the point! It's about the risks to my children!
Thoughts please...

Hi burge1

I think the best thing for you to do is to contact Ofsted. Ofsted will investigate complaints and will feed back to you.

Ofsted Early Years
NBU
3rd Floor
Royal Exchange Building
St Ann’s Square
Manchester
M2 7LA
08456 404040
www.ofsted.gov.uk

Oh.. and I would also put your complaint into writing keep a copy for yourself, send one to the childminder and if you would like to make a formal complaint, one to Ofsted

burge1 Fri 05-Jun-09 20:51:17

Hi,
Thanks for reply. I put in writing to childminder my concerns and reason for not paying rest of month. She said she spoke to Ofsted who said I have to pay. I called Ofsted who said they wouldn't have said that as they don't advise on contracts, but asked if I wanted to complain, I said I'd think about it but I have told my local child info zone who want to speak with early years dept. Still not sure if I am okay to not pay rest of month?!?!

nannynick Fri 05-Jun-09 21:03:25

Ofsted do not get involved in financial things. What your agreement is with the CM over payments is nothing to do with Ofsted.

Ofsted however would be interested in:
1. The childminder has a dog, which you do not feel is being properly controlled.
2. The childminder lets two children jump on a trampoline at the same time.

The childminders insurer would be interested in:
1. The childminder lets two children jump on a trampoline at the same time.
2. The childminder has a trampoline without a net.

You need to discuss payment terms with your CM. If you have given your CM notice, then I feel the month's payment is due. However if the CM has breached the contract to provide childcare, then you could stop payment - notifying your CM in writing as to your reason why, and your CM could then attempt to reclaim the money via Small Claims Court. The court would then need to decide if the CM has actually breached the terms of the contract, or not.

The best thing is to negotiate with your now ex-CM so you can come to an agreement as to what you both feel is reasonable given the circumstances. It's a pain going through courts.

nannynick Fri 05-Jun-09 21:11:41

You should write to your CM terminating the contract with immediate effect giving your reasons as to why. In that letter you should mention that you consider the situation regarding the trampoline to be breach of contract as it was endangering your children, not keeping then sufficiently supervised etc.
You should state what you feel is a reasonable settlement figure to terminate the contract with immediate effect. You can then ask your CM for what settlement figure they feel is payable to terminate the contract.

It may be worth you giving NCMA a call on 0800 169 4486 - they are a National Association representing Childminders and may be able to give you some advice. NCMA may also be your CM's insurer (via their group policy with Royal Sun Alliance) so worth mentioning about the trampoline situation. There is another insurer of Childminders, so your CM may not be insured by NCMA - but they might be.

burge1 Fri 05-Jun-09 21:13:47

So, is it not a breach from the childminder that she doesn't provide safe enough care so I had to withdraw and cannot use her for the remainder of month?? She did say to end contract before I did but not in writing and I am sure she'll now deny this as she didn't expect me not to pay up. I now have to pay someone else for remainder of month so feel it unfair to pay her too given situation?? I do not have a copy of original contract and have never seen one regarding trampoline, I she admitted not amending paperwork when she got dog??

Ripeberry Fri 05-Jun-09 21:18:50

She sounds like a bad CM. There should be a contract and she should be able to provide you with a copy if you have lost yours.
A good childminder would NEVER let two kids on a trampoline and especially not one without a net.
Has she got risk assesments? For anything?
The dog may be part of her familly but within childminding hours it will have to be kept away from the children , no excuses.
Complain to Ofsted!

nannynick Fri 05-Jun-09 21:48:01

Breach of contract can be hard to prove. If you feel it is breach of contract, then discuss that with the CM and if you can't reach an agreement you will need a court to decide. Contract law is not something many of us are experts in... certainly I'm no expert.

You should have a copy of the contract.

I'm a nanny and my insurer required notification that my employer had installed a trampoline, plus that I had to get my employer to sign a permission form to allow her own children to use their own trampoline.
Insurance companies don't like these trampolines, so most childcarer insurance policies now contain specific terms relating to how trampolines can be used and also what specific paperwork has to be completed.
I am therefore surprised that you have not had to sign anything that states that your children are permitted to use the CM's trampoline.

You can certainly complain to Ofsted with regard to the Dog and to the Trampoline.
However Ofsted won't deal with a contract dispute, so how you and your CM agree to terminate the contract is between yourselves until such time as one of you decides to involve the Small Claims Court (as the value of the CM claiming the non-payment from you is low). The Small Claims Court will want you to have tried other methods to resolve the situation (what they term as Alternative Dispute Resolution), so document everything so you have proof of what has been discussed with your CM.

Oligo Fri 05-Jun-09 22:49:55

yes probably you need to pay her and try to claim back (i just said that about something else on another thread).

Or depending on how you now feel about leaving her with your children in other resepcts your could put in writing that you do not give permission for them to go on trampoline and that the dog is not to be around during their time for the month notice period.

welshdeb Sat 06-Jun-09 21:53:37

I don't know about the dog, if was a new addition and not in existence when you signed up with her. In view of what she does it might be construed as a major change in her conditions and therefore rendering her original contract void.
Might be slightly weak, thoug.

I think though that the trampoline is cut and dried, the safety advice surounding trampolines is clear cut. No one in her position should be disregarding safety of her mindees in this way.

I think this is a breach of basic safety considertions and would justify your immediate withdrawl without notice.

Put it in writing.

If you don't pay her she has the choice as to what to do next. If she choses to persue you in the small claims court you will be able to put a counter defence against her claim. You can submitt all your previous correspondence in support of this.

Whats the worst that can happen? You have to end up paying her

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 07-Jun-09 09:35:12

I'd put your complaint in writing to the CM and advise that you are ceasing the contract due to breaches in health and safety.

I'd then report to Ofsted so that they can follow up. Other parents deserve to know the safety breaches and she needs to do something before somebody gets hurt.

If she chooses to pursue payment, then you can defend on the health and safety basis. If Ofsted rule that she did breach policies then this will help your case.

At the end of the day, your childs safety is far more important than the money aspect so I would really pursue the complaint with Ofsted before a child does get hurt in her care.

If you are wary of another CM, perhaps a nursery may be an option. No pets and its rare they would have a trampoline.

burge1 Sun 07-Jun-09 16:49:34

Thanks for all the messages, I plan to speak with Ofsted tomorrow. Luckily my work should let me reduce my hours so I can now look after them myself when not at preschool or school. Shame it ended up like this and scary too.

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