Childminder slams plans

Andrea Turner. Picture by FRANK REID
Andrea Turner. Picture by FRANK REID

THE quality of childcare will suffer if new Government proposals get the go-ahead, a childminder has warned.

The Government has unveiled plans to change the child carer ratio which they say will provide more places and cut costs for parents.

It means childminders, who have certain qualifications, will be allowed to care for four children who are aged one and under instead of three at any one time and six two years olds instead of four.

But town childminder, Andrea Turner, 42, has slammed the proposals saying “only the children will suffer”.

She says she plans to stick to the system she already has in place so none of the 16 children up to 10-years-old who she cares for, at different times, will be any worse off.

Andrea, of Southbrooke Avenue, charges £4 per hour per child, a rate she has never increased since she qualified in 2004.

She says the Government plans would mean her taking more children on but earning, in total, the same amount.

But all food, equipment, trips out for the children during holidays and transport to and from school are paid for out of Andrea’s pocket.

Andrea, who has a string of qualifications to her name and is also a lecturer at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Parents’ main concerns are if we are looking after more children, will that affect the quality of care?

“The answer is yes, undoubtedly.

“The Government want us to charge no more money while at the same time I need to work myself to a frazzle with an extra toddler or baby.

“I can’t imagine any other graduate being happy charging what we charge and yet now more changes are planned.

“I think the Government think that an extra child or two won’t make much difference but of course it will, it will have a direct impact on the care the children receive.”

The Government plans were announced last week by education minister, Elizabeth Truss, in the Government’s report, More Great Childcare, and if given the green light would come into place in autumn.

Andrea, who lives with her husband, Alan, 53, a JCB driver and their 14-year-old son, Jake, added: “I don’t get a budget from the local authority and don’t get me wrong, with rising heating and lighting, diesel and food costs, it’s not that I haven’t needed to put up my rate to keep my home-based business afloat.

“But instead I have had to slash costs wherever possible while striving to maintain the quality of my provision.

“All the Government is thinking about is cutting costs, but if they put more money into the earliest ages and supported childcare surely they would save more money on social and probation workers in years to come.”