In July 2013, the government launched a public consultation on ‘The Regulation of Childcare’ which proposed a number of changes intended to promote a growing childcare market that meets the needs of working families.
In February 2014, we published ‘The regulation of childcare consultation: government response’ which included our plans to go ahead with several proposals, including:
- allowing childminders to operate on suitable non-domestic premises for part of the working week
- enabling childcare providers to register multiple premises without completing a separate registration application each time
These measures, which apply in England only, are included in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and will come into force on 1 January 2016.
Childminders on non-domestic premises
From 1 January 2016, early years and later years childminders will be able to operate from suitable non-domestic premises for up to half their time whilst still registered as a childminder.
This will give childminders the flexibility to provide childcare from different settings - if they wish to do so - by expanding the range of premises from which they can operate without registering separately as a childcare provider. For example, childminders (or groups of childminders) could work with schools to offer out-of-hours care from school premises before and after school or during the holidays. However, childminders will need to seek (and have received) approval from Ofsted or their childminder agency before they can operate from additional sites.
Early years childminders will still be required to meet the standards and requirements set out in the early years foundation stage statutory framework while operating on non-domestic premises. For example, ratios will remain the same (although some childminders may choose to work together in groups of 2 or 3 in order to run a larger group).
Registration of childcare premises
From 1 January 2016, early years and later years childcare providers and childminders wishing to operate from multiple premises will make a single registration application to Ofsted or their childminder agency in respect of those settings, and will be able to add additional premises to an existing registration without completing a separate registration application each time they open or acquire a new site.
This will reduce the bureaucratic and administrative burden on childcare providers and make it easier for them to register their settings. For example, a provider wishing to register 10 premises will no longer have to complete 10 separate registration applications. However, childcare providers wishing to operate from additional premises will be required to seek (and have received) approval from Ofsted or their childminder agency before they are able to do so.
Ofsted plans to transfer all existing childcare providers to the single registration system from 1 January. In the meantime, Ofsted may contact providers to undertake some transitional work to prepare for this change.