JOB seekers, school leavers and those who are returning to work after starting a family are being encouraged to consider a ‘rewarding’ career in childcare following concerns that there are not enough professionals in place when funded childcare for working parents is extended next September.
The appeal from Devon County Council comes as there are ‘hotspots’ in Devon which have a particularly acute shortage of childcare provision, such as Dawlish.
One pathway into the profession is through the Government’s Early Years Educator Apprenticeship Scheme.
Currently, working parents of three and four-year-olds are eligible for 30 hours of government-funded childcare during term time. Funding can be stretched across the year by taking fewer hours each week.
Starting from April 2024, existing childcare will be expanded in phases. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare.
It's estimated that an additional 5,430 children in Devon will require a funded place from September 2024 when compared to September 2023.
This will be initially for 15 hours a week increasing to 30 hours a week from September 2025.
This is against a backdrop of a shortage of childminders nationally – Ofsted figures show that between March 2022 and 2023, registered childminders in England fell by 3,500 (11 per cent). In Devon the overall number of childminders is also falling - in 2021/22 the number fell by 15 percent (from 441) from the previous year to 375.
There are opportunities to work across Devon in a range of roles.
Support to become a childminder is offered by Devon County Council. There are Government grants to help people cover the costs of starting up as a childminder and are worth either £600 or £1200 depending on whether the person registers with Ofsted or with a Childminder Agency.
If childminding is not an option, there are two different Early Years Educator Apprenticeships available. No previous experience is needed for either.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, said: ‘Unfortunately we have fewer people entering the profession but interestingly 82 per cent of providers in Devon say they have no problems retaining staff, which says to me that in Devon childcare is a good, hugely satisfying profession to work in and in most cases childcare professionals are happy with where they work.
‘Childminding is rewarding and fulfilling career, often with flexible hours and we continue to work hard to help provide a high quality and practical level of childcare support for families and to support the registration and training of new childminders.
‘If you are in your final year at school, I would encourage you to think about childcare as a profession.’