The number of childminders is continuing to fall, although the standard of childcare provision has risen, according to a Government report.
The report, Childcare providers and statistics up to 31 March, says the number of childminders has fallen by 1.6% since December. The number of nurseries fell by just under 1%.
According to Nursery World, over 11,000 childminders have left the profession since 2012, accounting for 23,000 childcare places.
The government statistics also showed the number of nurseries graded outstanding or good by Ofsted has risen to a record 90%.
Childcare organisations have expressed concerns about the falling number of childminders and how this might impact on the government’s plans to increase free childcare for three and four year olds to 30 hours for many parents.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Preschool Learning Alliance, said: “It is very concerning that childminder numbers are continuing to decline at such a sustained rate. The government has made it clear that it expects childminders to provide the solution to the problem of limited nursery and pre-school capacity when the 30-hour free entitlement offer rolls out next year – but when the number of childminder places has dropped by nearly 23,000 in less than four years, we simply cannot see how this is possible.
“The DfE has rightly identified childminders as a vital source of flexible early years provision, and yet has done little to tackle this continuing trend. It’s clear that childminder agencies are not the answer – with only eight registered, and none inspected, since they were introduced in 2014 – and yet the department continues to focus its efforts on this failed policy.
“Government must do more to identify and tackle the reasons for this trend. Failure to do so could place even greater pressure on a 30-hour policy that is already on shaky ground.”