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Childcare: Have the inspectorates gone mad?

Have you looked after someone else's child for more than two hours a day? You could be breaking the law...

Published on October 1st 2009.

Childcare: Have the inspectorates gone mad?

The Government is to review the meaning of childcare for 'reward' in the Childcare Act 2006, following Ofsted's ban on two working mothers from taking turns to look after each other's children.

The women in question are detective constables Leanne Shepherd from Milton Keynes and Lucy Jarrett from Birmingham, who work for Thames Valley Police. And the nature of their lawlessness? They minded the kids while the other was at work.

The close friends' private arrangement allowed them both to return to part-time jobs. However, they were reported to the education watchdog Ofsted who found their informal deal broke the law.

No money changed hands in the arrangement but ,according to Ofsted,' the supply of services or goods and, in some cases, reciprocal arrangements can also constitute reward' and 'a person must be registered as a childminder if care is provided for more than two hours a day or takes place for more than 14 days a year.'

What may seem like a harmless and convenient babysitting arrangement is in the eyes of the law illegal, unregistered childminding. Totally unaware of this and keen to return to work, this blanket system, there to protect children and parents, appears to be hindering these two families from earning their daily bread.

The Minister for Children, Schools and Families Vernon Coaker said the Childcare Act 2006 was in place "to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children" but the government needed to make sure it did not "penalise hard-working families".

He added: “My department is speaking to Ofsted about the interpretation of the word 'reward' in this particular case.”

Photo by memoossa

But whilst this case may have forced Ofsted to go back to the drawing board – it is two police women after all – this story is only a small part of a bigger issue. There are many instances of the fine line between necessary child protection and a system which punishes innocent acts of care.

These even extend into sports and games where parents have to jump through hoops (although not literally, except on sports day, ed) before being allowed to coach their children and their children’s friends. Thus a criminal records check has to be made on helpful amateurs who are usually related as parents to members of the football, cricket, rugby teams they manage. At the same time the managers have often known each other for years.

The question is, are we allowing government too much control over our personal relations? Are we guilty, through fear of crime of failing to trust each other and our instincts?

Do we need to ask ourselves whether ‘worry’ is getting in the way of people interacting in perfectly normal ways over their own activities and their children’s? Should Ofsted be told they are plain wrong in this interpretation?

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MSeptember 30th 2009.

There are perverts everywhere

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2009.

I agree.

Michael JacksonSeptember 30th 2009.

Nearly all sexual and physical abuse of children is committed by immediate family members or close friends of the family as it always has been All these extra laws just make the law an ass and line the already bulging pockets of the lawyers. Cretins who victimise lone or unusual people in the communty just they just don't like the look of them are inavariably wrong.

The Voice of ReasonSeptember 30th 2009.

Three nursery workers have just been gaoled today for child pornography offences, two of them were women. Presumably they were ALL subjected to very expensive and time-wasting C.R.B. checks which makes private-sector chumps Crapita lots of money out of the taxpayers but did nothing to ensure the safety of the children! Scrap this rubbish now and put criminal checks in the hands of people who know to do it properly, the Police!

The Voice of ReasonSeptember 30th 2009.

Actually only one of them was a nursery worker but she had passed all these silly tests and had all the certificates so what were they all worth in the end?

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