Many childminders including many of those in the LBCMA belong to informal networks which offer support to each other and holiday and sickness cover. They may also amalgamate for some activities.
Building on the principals of these informal networks is the new Children Come First quality assurance scheme (Quality Childminding Charter). This has been developed by NCMA in partnership with the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) and the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)
Networks which operate to specific quality standards can be approved under the NCMA Children Come First scheme and so become NCMA approved networks. Network approval is for three years and approval can be renewed.
Children Come First childminding networks are structured to serve the differing needs of the area and the funding or governing bodies involved. The network will support the development of additional services, while ensuring that nationally approved quality standards of care and education are maintained.
A network service is widely available even in rural areas where center based care is not an option because of transport difficulties.
Within a Children Come First network a coordinator is employed to assess registered childminders and regularly monitor them using the NCMA Quality Childminding Charter. This scheme ensures an extra high quality of childcare and education service is provided to families and their children.
The coordinator also ensures that childminders receive appropriate training to develop their skill and will provide a link between parent and childminder.
Within networks the low ratio of children to childminder allows more opportunity for developmental care and education. Hours are flexible and can be arranged to meet individual family needs. Brothers and sisters of different ages can be catered for in the same setting, providing continuity of care and education for children from birth to 14 years.
There are many children who may derive additional benefits from these small group sizes, particularly those with physical and learning difficulties and those children with low self esteem.
Networks provide family friendly childcare options, offering the flexibility to cover the changing employment patterns, shift work and the ability to offer overnight care.
Networks provide a seamless service for children bringing together play, care and education. They provide family learning opportunities and support for improving parenting skills to parents of the children in their care.
Childminding networks are a cost effective option for expanding the availability of quality childcare places and give real choice to children and families.
For further information view:
Childminding Networks In BEDFORDSHIRE.
There is a two part Children Come First network in Bedfordshire. Both parts are multi functional. Child care places are available for children of 0 -16 years. Places are available for all situations including, community childminding, special needs, teenage parents, foundation stage education, holiday cover, before and after school and full day care.
The Northern branch of the county network is based at Biggleswade. For further information contact the network coordinator Anne Johnson on Tel: 01767-313903.
The Southern branch of the county network is based at Tithe Farm. For further information contact the network coordinator Kathryn Russel on Tel: 01582-867291
As a local employer you may want to get involved in the development of a Children Come First childminding network in your area, or, if you prefer NCMA can help you set up a network tailored to the needs of your staff. (contact the NCMA regional office in Bedford on 01234-211921)