Ofsted, whose remit is “to inspect and regulate care for children and young people, and inspect education and training for learners of all ages”, has deemed that parents who look after their friends’ children and receive a ‘reward’ must register with them as childminders:
It said most parents would be exempted but those who babysit for more than two hours at a time, or more than 14 days per year, should be registered.
The “reward” could be money or free baby-sitting in return, it said.
It comes after Ofsted told two police women to end an arrangement to care for each other’s children.
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.
And in a stroke Ofsted has expanded the scope of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). This after the chief of the ISA, Sir Roger Singleton had previously said:
that because the scheme only applied to arrangements made through third parties such as a school or a club, the personal arrangements made by parents with friends were not included: “This means that the scheme will not come into play when parents agree to give their friends’ children a lift to school or to cubs. Nor will it cover instances where parents work with children at school or a youth club on an occasional or one-off basis, or when parents visit their child’s school, for example, to watch the Christmas play.”
This should concern everyone. It’s not even a power grab, but a demonstration of the way in which agencies such as the ISA work – it’s at the heart of the argument against ID cards. The government starts by saying it’s starting a new quango, or introducing a new system of ‘protection’, and that they’ll add ‘safeguards’ and ‘commissioners’ to protect against abuses of the system. But the truth is what you see here – other quangos and other government agencies then step in and cause their scope to expand massively beyond that which was initially, formally announced. These women will now have to register with the ISA at a cost of £64 each, to prove that they aren’t paedophiles, even though each of them already knows that about the other. Kim Simpson, a campaigner for the Open Eye Group said:
“Something akin to a kind of anxiety-driven psychosis seems to have engulfed government policymaking in the realms of children and family life.”
Vernon Coaker, the Children’s Minister, responded saying:
“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’.”