Ministers ‘plan childcare change’

The UK government is planning to announce changes to how much childcare costs in England and Wales. The plans are believed to include the Conservatives’ aspiration to make some provisions tax deductible. They also include changes to both the qualifications of child minders, and the number of children they are permitted to care for. This is from the BBC…

The measures are being driven by Downing Street as it seeks to overhaul how childcare is provided and funded, sources say.

They are expected to outline a rise in the number of children a child minder can care for and changes to their qualifications in an attempt to improve the number of child minder places at the same time as maintain a high level of quality, sources say.

According to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), the current childcare ratio in England limits one child minder to looking after three children under the age of two.

Government sources Newsnight has spoken to say that this ratio will rise, although they are still unsure to what level.

A change in the ratios has been championed recently by Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss, who has been drawing on the example of France where five children aged between new born and two years old can be looked after by one minder, compared with three in England.

In France, for children under the age of four, the ratio is one to eight. In the UK, this ratio is one to four.

In recent weeks Mr Clegg, the deputy prime minister, wrote to Liberal Democrat party members saying he was “determined to make sure we do more” to ease the cost of child care.

Ms Truss believes the experience of France illustrates that quality is not jeopardised by higher ratios.

Downing Street sources said Liberal Democrat and Conservative figures alike were now convinced that looser ratios mean nurseries can take more children on which could see staff paid more, and so greater quality staff attracted.

Sources are also predicting a tightening of the qualifications required to set up as a child minder. This would see a change in the focus of the Ofsted inspections, but would also see a demand for greater qualifications from child minders.

More at:  Ministers ‘plan childcare change’

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