A new association for childminder agencies takes shape in England as the future of the Department of Education’s strategic partnership with early years providers remains unclear. The Organisation for Childminder Agencies (OFCMA) has been formed by eight of the 11 Ofsted-registered childminding agencies in England.
Apart from representing its members with government and regional stakeholders, the association will offer support, advice, networking and promotional opportunities for all its members.
As reported by Nursery World, the number of childminders registering with agencies has seen a spike in the recent months following long delays of up to nine months to register with Ofsted as a childminder. Childminder agencies provide an alternative by allowing childminders to get registered within six to eight weeks.
Similar to Ofsted, Ofsted Registered Childminding Agencies have the authority to register, regulate and inspect childminders and award individual grades following inspections. The agencies further support the childminders with a comprehensive support package and up to 16 hours of CPD and training.
However, due to a lack of representation and unified support within the sector, there is a general lack of awareness about the benefits of registering with childminder agencies. One of the primary aims of OFCMA will be to promote the benefits of registering with a childminder agency.
Eligibility Criteria for Joining OFCMA
The eligibility criteria for childminder agencies to join OFCMA are:
- Should be registered as a childminder agency with Ofsted and graded ‘effective’ following the first full Ofsted judgement
- Nominated and interviewed by two member agencies of CMA and voted by a majority vote by meeting attendees
All members of OFCMA will be required to follow a code of practice and quality standards set by the association. Member agencies will also be expected to pay a minimum of two annual visits to the childminders registered with them, instead of the mandatory one visit per year.
You can find more information regarding OFCMA on their website here.
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