As Britain embraces these tough economic times, parents are continually struggling to find child minders, let alone the meet the costs of childcare. Radical reform of the child tax credits is due to roll out, but a recent report released to The Independent on Sunday reveals contradictory plans that could shatter the child care standards in the UK.
Currently the UK has the lowest staff-to-child ratios in Europe. For nurseries, one adult can care for up to 8 children, whereas for child minders, working from home, the ratio is reduced to 3 children under the age of 5.
The low number of children allowed to be cared for by one individual is how the regulatory body OFSTED ensure the highest care provision for every child in the country. It does put a financial strain on child minders; however, the level of care is far superior to any other country using a higher staff-to-child ratio.
At the moment, the industry is facing a hard time as a whole, due to the financial strain facing parents, and the government funding set to be cut even further.
Critics of the plans put forward by Elizabeth Truss to Michael Gove’s department for education, outlining the proposed changes, include reference to the French system, where the ratio is as high as 1:12.
The reference to the increased ratio, allowing for 12 children, under the age of 5 to be left in the care of one child minder, raises concerns over child welfare. With child minders commenting on the issue of the responsibilities of the job, looking after just 3 toddlers is a handful in itself, as it only takes one child to cause havoc among the others.
Controlling child behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of a child minder, therefore, when one child misbehaves, it can extremely difficult to get things under control and keep the rest of the children calm.
The one on one attention is one of the primary factors in the UK provision of childcare. Ensuring that every child gets the best start to develop their core skills, encourage group participation, and learn with interactive tools from an early age. With an increase to the staff-to-child ratio the learning and development would become deteriorated, and take away the attention that each child gets from their child minder.
An indicator of the quality of childcare services is the low ratio that carers have, allowing them more time to interact with each child in their care. While it’s a bold move to attempt to bring down the cost of child care in the UK, people involved in the childcare sector are opposed by the idea of changing the ratio, with a belief that it isn’t going to bring down the cost of childcare to parents, nor free up any more investment in childcare funding.