Draft National Care Standards for Childcare Agencies
A Consultation Paper
UNISON Scotland's response to the Scottish Executives
Consultation Paper on the Draft National Care Standards for Childcare
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to
comment on the Scottish Executive's Consultation Paper, the
Draft National Care Standards for Childcare Agencies.
The Consultation Paper should advise employers
that the information from the list is of a highly sensitive
nature, and it should be treated as such, and details from
the register should not be used in a malicious manner in
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
150,000 members working in the public sector. We are the largest
trade union in local government, with over 98,000 members working
in Scottish Local Government. UNISON Scotland represents childcare
workers in local authorities, private and voluntary sectors, members
working in early years establishments as nursery nurses, support
workers within nurseries and crèches; residential care
workers, welfare rights workers, and members working in social
services caring for children such as social workers, support staff,
the health service and higher education throughout Scotland. For
these reasons, issues relating to childcare provision are of interest
to UNISON. We agree that there needs to be a National Care Standard
for childcare agencies, however we believe that there is an important
omission in the Draft Paper regarding the pay and conditions and
training for staff.
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Scottish
Executive's Draft Consultation Paper on National Care Standards
for Childcare Agencies. Clearly the role of childcarers in delivering
services to families is important. UNISON as a whole represents
nearly one million working women. About 70% of UNISON members
live in households with pre school or school age children. UNISON
has consistently campaigned for:
· a mixture of high quality care and
education for all children from birth to school age;
· childcare provided by trained and
· provision which suits the working
lives and pockets of UNISON members and all parents.
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response
to the Consultation Paper on the Draft National Care Standards
for Childcare Agencies.
The national care standards
UNISON SCOTLAND welcomes the initiative taken
by the Scottish Ministers to develop national standards for
childcare agencies. The Standards focus on what the parent/guardian
and child can expect when they receive childcare from a childcarer
employed by or introduced by a childcare agency. While we
appreciate the necessity of this perspective, UNISON Scotland
believes that the Consultation Paper should also include Standards
that must be met on behalf of the childcarers. UNISON is particularly
interested in childcare workers as we represent classroom
assistants, welfare assistants, local authority play workers
and other childcare professionals. The two main issues which
concern UNISON in relation to childcare workers are pay and
conditions, and training.
How standards and regulations work together
UNISON Scotland accepts the proposal that the
Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care Standards should
be used to monitor the quality of care services and their
compliance with the Act and the regulations.
Information about the childcare agency
We agree that the information about the childcare
agency and the services that it provides should be well
presented and in a language and format that is easy to understand
for all users.
Agreeing the service
We concur that users should receive a written
service agreement that clearly defines the service provided
to meet all their needs.
We acknowledge that users should be provided
with a childcare arrangement which meets their identified
While UNISON Scotland concurs with the proposals
that there should be a Standard of quality for childcarers,
we believe that this is too vague. The Draft Consultation
Paper states that the childcarer will,
"interact effectively and enthusiastically
with the child(ren)".
How will this be done?
It goes on to state that childcarers will,
"choose from activities that will take
into account individual needs of children, cultural needs
and any safety issues".
This is too vague. What qualifications will
childcarers have in order to carry out these duties? UNISON
Scotland believes that the Consultation Paper should include
Standards for childcarers. It needs to be more specific with
regards to childcarers' qualifications and training and the
necessity for a job description.
Management and staffing arrangements
3.) UNISON Scotland is concerned with
the section regarding management and staffing arrangements.
There is no explicit reference to pay or training of staff,
or management. With regards to management arrangements, the
document states under the third point in this section,
"You can be confident that the manager
or anyone responsible for placing childcarers will demonstrate
a high level of professional competence and skill and a thorough
understanding of childcare issues".
How will this be done? There is no mention of
qualifications for the management. Unison Scotland believes
that the Consultation Paper should include the need for specific
qualifications and a job description.
5.) As far as the childcarers are concerned,
again there is no mention of any kind of qualifications. In
the fifth point in this section, the document states,
"You can be confident that the childcare
agency places childcarers who:
are qualified where appropriate, and have
the knowledge, skills, personal attributes and experience to
meet your individual needs; and will fulfil the childcare arrangement
Again this is too vague. The Draft Paper does
not include which skills or qualifications the staff should
have. UNISON believes that this is a serious omission in the
Draft Paper. We believe there should be:
Staff need to be aware of children's welfare,
including Child Protection, managing behaviour, infection
control, promoting healthy eating and first aid.
UNISON Scotland believes that it is necessary
to address the issues of pay, training and development to
enable childcarers to deliver a high quality service. This
underlines the need to ensure that staff are valued and supported,
and receive decent pay and training. Continuity of staff will
only be achieved where employees are contented and supported
in their roles, so that staff turnover and illness can be
For many years childcare has been regarded as
"woman's work", an extension of a woman's "natural" skills
and therefore not worthy of proper recognition or recompense.
This in turn has led to the undervaluing of this work and
to low pay. To increase the supply and recruitment of trained
and motivated childcare workers UNISON believes it is vital
to improve the status of these jobs. Childcare is not simply
an extension of parenting skills. Useful as these may be for
giving people relevant experience, they are not essential.
Many excellent childcare workers will have no children of
their own. It is more important to ensure that people who
want to enter this area of work are properly trained. Good
childcare, can have lifetime beneficial effects on recipients.
Childcare is about developing children's social skills and
confidence as well as preparing them for school and providing
physical care. As a job it involves developing a complex range
of skills. As a career it lacks recognition, structure or
adequate pay. UNISON believes that all of these issues must
be addressed to attract people to become childcare workers.
Of course, childcare can take many forms from after school
care for older children to full-time day care for young babies
and the range of skills and depth of knowledge will vary accordingly.
As the largest union representing childcare
workers, as well as local authority registration officers,
UNISON would expect to be consulted formally on the development
of a training and qualification framework. In the private
sector, childcare workers are less likely to be qualified.
Under five workers in all sectors have been subsidising childcare
by accepting low wages. Many private sector nursery managers
and owners, with whom UNISON has contact, have confirmed this.
Their view is that parents can only pay up to a certain amount
and they recognise this necessarily means keeping staffing
costs down. Many childcare workers are concerned about the
lack of any coherent career structure.
6.) With regards to the selection criteria
of staff, UNISON Scotland agrees that there must be a strict
criteria regulating the selection of childcarers. It is vital
that clients are confident that the childcare agency interviews
and selects childcarers, volunteers and office staff through
a process that takes account of safe recruitment practices
and codes of practice of the Council. However, with regards
to the inclusion that the agencies may also,
"cross referencing, where appropriate,
the list of individuals considered unsuitable to work with
children (1); verification of the right to work, checked in
line with relevant legislation (2); and international criminal
records checks, where possible".
UNISON recommends that the Consultation Paper
stresses the importance of the rights of individuals. Clearly
we do need to protect children from individuals who may cause
them harm. However, we are concerned that there is no right
for an individual to appeal against or challenge their inclusion
on the list before their name is placed on that list.
The list has to be accessible to organisations
working with children, in order that they are able to check
the list to verify their employees. All organisations and
employers who work with children should be informed of any
changes to legislation which will have a direct impact on
them, and given access to appropriate training or guidelines
on the impact of the legislation.
However, UNISON is also concerned that the list
of unsuitable persons could be used to stigmatise or persecute
those individuals who are named upon it. The details that
are to be included are important given that the list needs
to be accurate so that people with the same names etc. can
UNISON believes that the disclosure of information
from the Child Protection List to unauthorised persons should
be a criminal offence. Information from the list is of a highly
sensitive nature, it should be treated as such, and details
from the register should not be used in a malicious manner
by any parties.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to
respond to the Scottish Executive's Consultation Paper, the
Draft National Care Standards for Childcare Agencies. We appreciate
the importance of the role of childcarers in delivering a service
for families. UNISON Scotland agrees that the parent/guardian
and child should be able to expect a certain Standard of childcare
from a childcarer employed by or introduced by a childcare agency,
and we broadly agree with the Standards outlined in the Draft
However, UNISON Scotland also believes that the childcarers
themselves should also be able to expect Standards of pay, conditions
and training. The childcare agencies should also have a job description
for all their staff.
UNISON Scotland agrees that the childcare agencies must interview
and select childcarers, volunteers and office staff through a
process that takes account of safe recruitment practices and the
codes of practice of the Council. This would entail cross referencing
to the register of the Scottish Social Services Council and where
appropriate, the list of individuals considered unsuitable to
work with children.
However, we believe that the Consultation document should alert
employers that the information from the list is of a highly sensitive
nature, and it should be treated as such, and details from the
register should not be used in a malicious manner in any way.
(1) The Protection of Children (Scotland)
Bill, currently being developed, includes reference to such
(2) Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration
Act 1996 and the Immigration (Restrictions on Employment)
For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835
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