Two women who work part-time for the same company have been told that they cannot care for each other’s child unless they register as childminders and undergo Ofsted inspections.
The women, who wish to remain anonymous, gave birth to girls at similar times. They set up a job share, with both working half a week in the same post. They are also close friends, so when one was at work the other cared for both children.
Ofsted, however, has put an end to the arrangement. It said that, according to legislation, caring for another person’s child “for reward” was classed as childminding. This means that both mothers will have to register with Ofsted and follow the same regulations as normal childminders. The financial “reward” they receive is free care for their daughters.
A protest petition on the Downing Street website had gathered almost 1,700 signatures by last night. The Open Eye group, which campaigns for fewer restrictions on childminders, wants the meaning of “reward” to be changed to money or gifts. Kim Simpson, one of the campaigners, said: “Something akin to a kind of anxiety-driven psychosis seems to have engulfed government policymaking in the realms of children and family life.”
Ofsted said: “The law sets out that childminding requires registration where a person cares for one or more children for reward, and at least one child attends for more than two hours in any one day.”
The Government indicated last night that Ofsted could be made to withdraw its opposition to the women’s childcare arrangements.
Vernon Coaker, the Children’s Minister, said: “We need to be sure that the legislation does not penalise hard-working families. My department is discussing with Ofsted the interpretation of the word ‘reward’.”
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This story, from The Times, shows what happens when a democracy is being dismantled. Wherever the overly powerful state sees people using their own initiative and commonsense, it intervenes and destroys: