§ Miss Lestor
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what action she is taking to ensure that registered child minders are properly recompensed and given appropriate training and support to ensure that the service they provide is of the highest possible standard;
(2) what action she is taking to encourage the local authority registration of child minders and to ensure that registration leads to a good quality child care service; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. Yeo
Parents and child minders should be free to negotiate charges and other aspects of child care arrangements.
The registration system introduced in the Children Act, 1989, which came into force in October 1991, provides a framework for regulating childminding and other forms of day care used by children under eight. The system includes a mandatory inspection at least once a year to ensure acceptable and consistent standards of care, and this can be used to encourage improvements if necessary. Further guidance was issued in January to ensure that local authorities apply the system sensibly and flexibly. The Act also empowers local authorities to provide training, advice, guidance and counselling for those providing day care for young children.694W
In addition the Department has grant aided the National Childminding Association since it was set up in 1977 to support its work of encouraging child minders to raise their standards.