Childminding spaces in Scotland fall by 10,000 in five years as profession suffers decline

Childminding places in Scotland have fallen by more than 10,000 in five years as charity bosses call for an immediate national response from the Scottish Government.

Official statistics published by the care inspectorate show that Scotland’s childminding workforce has declined by 30 per cent in the five years up to December 2021.

Some 1,671 childminding businesses have been lost, resulting in 10,310 fewer places for families in Scotland, according to the early learning and childcare statistics.

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Childminding spaces have fallen across Scotland by 30 per cent in the past five years

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And the decline is accelerating, with a 9 per cent fall experienced in the past year alone, with a loss of 397 childminding businesses and more than 2,500 places for families.

Graeme McAlister, chief executive of the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), has said the figures make “grim reading” as the reduction in businesses means a direct loss of high-quality childcare places.

The charity believe the childminding spaces lost will be even higher in the nine months since December last year.

The workforce decline comes during the expansion of the Scottish Government’s provision of funded early learning and childcare (ELC) for eligible two, three and four-year-olds.

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Mr McAlister said the implementation has had a devastating effect on the childminding workforce.

The organisation advised the Government of the urgent need for a national childminder recruitment campaign in 2019 – however, the recommendation was not accepted.

Mr McAlister said: “Acute shortages of childminding are being reported around the country as demand from parents and carers considerably exceeds supply for this unique, high-quality, flexible form of childcare and family support delivered in a home setting.

“The decline in the workforce is accelerating and the loss of much-needed childminding businesses and childminding places for working families cannot be sustained.

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“The situation is now critical and demands an immediate national response tackling the issues adversely affecting both recruitment and retention.”

The charity is now urging the Government to expand a piloted recruitment drive for childminders in remote and rural areas to all over Scotland.

The Scottish Rural Childminding Partnership (SRCP) aims to recruit 100 childminders in rural local authorities where the lack of spaces is even more pronounced.

Mr McAlister said: “SCMA is solutions-focused and has led the way in partnership with others in piloting a supported method of recruiting new childminders into the sector in remote and rural areas.

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“While still a pilot, ongoing progress is very promising and it is clear that this needs to be scaled up, extended and resources across the whole of Scotland as a national priority.”

The organisation also gave evidence at parliamentary committees before the summer recess where the issue of increased bureaucracy and paperwork was impacted childminders, causing them to leave the profession.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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