What is a childminding network?
A childminding network is made up of a group of registered childminders who are supported by a network coordinator. In many cases the network coordinator is an experienced, former childminder themself.
Can any childminder join a childminding network?
Not if it is a PACEY Children Come First network, or working towards approval. Before a childminder can join an PACEY Children Come First network they must show the coordinator that they meet the PACEY Children Come First Quality Standards. If accepted on to the network, the network coordinator will continue to monitor them to make sure they continue to meet these standards and to help the childminder identify how they can improve their service even further through professional development.
What does the network coordinator do?
The network coordinator is central to the success of any network. Much of a coordinator's work will be undertaken with childminders. As well as assessing childminders who wish to join the network, and regularly visiting and monitoring those childminders on the network, coordinators will:
- help network childminders to fill vacancies.
- arrange holiday and sickness cover for network childminders.
- organise training sessions for network childminders.
- organise outings, activities and social events for network childminders, and for the children in their care.
- help network childminders to get hold of extra toys and resources, for example through toy libraries and equipment loan schemes.
- ensure that the network is offering a good service to the organisation funding it and meeting the organisation's aims.
However, network coordinators also provide the link between the childminders and the organisation funding the network. So, the coordinator will work with the organisation to make sure the network is operating successfully and providing the service it has been set up for. In a network linked to a children's centre or extended school, the coordinator is likely to have an important role in integrating childminders with the wider range of services, and ensuring that appropriate resources are available.
And, in addition, the coordinator will help families looking for childcare or who are already using a network childminder. For, instance, they may act as a mediator should there ever be a problem.
Are all childminding networks approved by PACEY Children Come First?
No, childminding networks can develop without PACEY Children Come First approval. To be quality-assured by PACEY Children Come First a childminding network must show an independent assessor that it meets the PACEY Children Come First Criteria and it must be reapproved every three years. The Criteria realate to good practice in the network's organisation, the standard of childcare offered, early years education and support for the childminders. You can read the CCF criteria here and find out more about the quality assurance process in the About CCF section of this website.
If you are planning to work with, or join, a childminding network, ask about PACEY Children Come First approval as networks which aren't approved may not work to the same criteria and offer the same services that quality-assured networks do.
Who starts a network and pays for the coordinator?
Anyone who wants to offer childcare or family support services.
Many of the early childminding networks were funded by local authorities with the aim of raising the quality of childcare in an area and increasing the childcare available for parents. Networks still offer this valuable service but now, you'll find networks offering a wide range of services and being set up by agencies ranging from employers wanting to offer childcare to their staff, to social services departments who want safe, welcoming childcarers on hand to provide care for children at times when the family are in crisis.
This has developed as people recognise that networks can offer flexible solutions to individual families needs and provide high-quality childcare at times when some other provisions can't.
You can find out more about who develops networks, and the possibilities by using the links on the left.