Hundreds of members of sector organisation the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) have been in contact to express concern that unregulated childcare is appearing in their local area and that, alongside having to close to their usual families, they are now having to compete with unregulated caregivers to provide support to critical workers.
The fear is that this is not a short-term challenge that will end when COVID-19 is gone. It could also threaten the long term sustainability of registered childcare provision.
PACEY says that the services that families will need to rely on when life returns to normal – the services that ensure the youngest children achieve good levels of development and are ready for school, could be decimated. They cannot compete with cheap or free childcare.
Chief executive Liz Bayram said: ‘What we're finding is either individuals with good intentions or organisations that are looking to try and make some money out of this are offering services and support with unregistered, uninsured, untrained staff and volunteers. We've raised a few examples with Ofsted where we are aware that this is happening. It is illegal to care for children in your own home for more than two hours a day without having that regulation.’
Ultimately the law is clear, caring for a child for more than two hours a day in an individual’s own home for payment without being registered with Ofsted or CIW is illegal.
PACEY emphasises its focus has always been on supporting registered providers.
‘We have and will continue to share with Ofsted/CIW and government examples of both well-meaning as well as profiteering promotion of unregulated childcare services,’ says Ms Bayram. ‘If you hear of any, please do the same. Ofsted and CIW have suspended their routine inspections so should have more capacity to look into these cases, so long as we are all telling them.’
See Liz Bayram’s blog here