Since 2014, childminders have had the option to register with a childminder agency rather than with Ofsted. Childminders do not have to belong to an agency, this is optional.
The purpose of the agencies is to encourage more people to become childminders and by offering support, training and development, to improve the quality of childminding as well as providing help for parents in finding a high-quality childminder.
The aim is for agencies to be a one-stop-shop for both childminders and families and also to help reduce costs for individual childminders for services such as training and continuing professional development. If the childminders registered with an agency want the agency to, it could also provide other business services for its members such as managing fees, invoicing, handling tax and national insurance.
Agencies can provide support for parents by listing all their member childminders, the ages they cater for and the hours they work, thus helping to match up parents’ demand with childminder vacancies.
All childminders registered with an agency keep their independence, but joining an agency could be a good option for those childminders who want to be part of an organisation that will provide support and training as well as inspections.
Different agencies offer different levels of support, so as a childminder considering joining an agency, you should check if the agency meets your individual needs.
Also, childminder agencies are self-funding and charge membership fees to childminders. They may have a menu of different services with different associated costs so again, you should check if the agency offers what you need at a cost that is suitable for you.
As agencies are a relatively new concept, some areas of the country are not yet served by an agency and many do not have websites or contact details yet. Here is the list of childminder agencies registered with Ofsted in January 2016:
The Northumberland Church of England Academy Childminding Agency
Northumberland Church of England Academy
Josephine Butler Campus
Academy Road, Ashington
call: 01670 816111
City Childcare Childminding Agency
157-159 St. Barnabas Road, Woodford Green, Essex
Rutland Early Years Agency Limited
Rutland Early Years Agency Limited, 4 Ferrers Close
Orange Moon Childcare Community Interest Company
3B Shipstones Business Centre
North Gate, Nottingham
call: 0845 0760 042 or 0115 978 3399