Drop in number of childminders for third year running

Number of childminders drops for third consecutive year.

Number of childminders drops for third consecutive year. - Credit: Archant

The number of childminders across North Somerset has dropped by 13 per cent over the past two years.

According to Government figures, the number of childminders and childcare places has dropped for the third year in a row, sparking concerns for working parents.

In 2017, there were 179 registered childminders in North Somerset, but today the figure stands at 155.

The significant drop in childcare places is worrying for parents, who need flexible and reliable childcare to return to, or stay in, work.

Amanda Jayne Burgess, a childminder in Nailsea, said: "The main issue childminders have is funding. The funding doesn't cover our hourly rate which is tricky.

"I also think more recognition would also help. A lot of people look at us as babysitters, but we have to follow the same guidelines as preschools and nurseries.

"It's so important to keep childminders, especially for babies, to provide more of a home environment."

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The Government says the biggest source of costs for childminders is paying for meals, snacks and refreshments, which take up 41 per cent of their budgets.

This is a significantly larger proportion than school-based nurseries and group providers.

Childminders also incur more costs for training and materials, alongside rising Ofsted registration fees, leaving many are struggling to remain financially viable.

A spokesman for North Somerset Council said: "In North Somerset we are following the national trend and the number of childminders has reduced.

"We are very proud of our childminders, who go that extra mile and attend lots of training in evenings and weekends.

"We have 99 per cent of our childminders with good or outstanding Ofsted outcomes.

"We have 21 childminders who are also trained to work with children with additional needs.

"The Government funding childminders can claim for three and four-year-olds does not match the hourly rate childminders charge families.

"There is therefore a funding shortfall and some of our childminders choose not to take funded children as a consequence although most do take funded children and then ask parents for a voluntary contribution."