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1.1 Current Childminding Legislation
The following is an overview of the current legislation which has an affect on childminders, parents and children.
Equality Act 2010
The act replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single act to make the law simpler and to remove inconsistencies.
The act covers nine protected characteristics. The characteristics applying to home-based childcare include disability, race, religion or belief and gender.
Childcare Act (2006)
The act lays out registration and inspection arrangements, providing for an integrated education and care framework for the Early Years and general childcare registers. It introduced the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in England. The Early Years Register and the General Childcare Register provide a regulatory framework for childcare under the act.
Children Act (2004)
Identified as the most influential law for home-based childcare, it outlines that the general function of the Act is for the Children’s Commissioner to be concerned in particular with the views and interests of children so far as relating to the following aspects of their well-being: physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
protection from harm and neglect;
education, training and recreation;
the contribution made by them to society;
social and economic well-being.
These five outcomes for children are recognised as the overarching aim of the Early Years Foundation Stage, namely the Every Child Matters outcomes of staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being.
Health Protection Agency Act (2004)
Established the Health Protection Agency. The Agency has numerous functions in relation to health, including the prevention of the spread of infectious disease. Care of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations (2002)
COSHH deal with preventing or reducing workers’ exposure to hazardous substances. All parts of COSHH apply if a home-based childcare provider employs any staff. Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001)
This act protects persons from discrimination on the grounds of a disability, and it requires that reasonable adjustments must be made to services, provisions and/or premises so that disabled persons do not suffer significant disadvantages compared to non-disabled persons. Children are covered by this legislation as they are persons in the eyes of the law.
Data Protection Act (1998)
It protects sensitive personal data being published without a persons consent. Where children are involved consent has to be given by a parent or guardian.
Protection of Children Act (1999)
The Act states that the Secretary of State shall keep a list of individuals who are considered unsuitable to work with children.
Human Rights Act (1998)
The Act incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
Children are covered by this legislation although not specifically mentioned.
Code of Practice for First Aid (1997)
The Act sets out standard practice and guidance for trained first aiders and gives tailored advice to show different people in industry what they need to do to meet their legal responsibilities for health and safety.
Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995
This Act is not currently applicable to registered childminders but acquiring a basic Food Hygiene Certificate is considered good practice. Local authorities require registered childminders to register with their local Environmental Health Department and obtain the following document: ‘Safer food, better business for Childminders’ available from the Food Standards Agency.
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) (1995)
This act specifies what kind of accidents and incidents that happen in the work place are required to be reported to RIDDOR. Code of Practice for the Identification and Assessment of Children with Special
Educational Needs (1994, revised in 2001)
This Code of Practice provides practical advice to educational settings, including early years settings, on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children’s special educational needs. Children Act (1989)
This Act was introduced in an effort to reform and clarify the existing laws affecting children and the current child protection system is based on it. Children’s rights were acknowledged for the first time in UK law. Amongst other things, the act legislates to protect children who may be suffering or are likely to suffer significant harm.
Public Health (Control of Disease) Act (1984)
This act states the need for notification and possible exclusion periods for certain infectious diseases. Exclusions for children include exclusion from schools, places of entertainment or assembly.
Education Act (1981)
This Act became law in 1983 and tried to provide adequate safeguards, rights and duties for all those concerned with the education of children with special educational needs and to ensure these children’s rights to be integrated into the life and work of the community. It also recognised parents’ rights regarding their children’s education.
ROLE OF REGULATORY BODIES
Regulatory bodies in the UK are
Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) Standards (Wales) Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (Scotland)
Local Health and Social Services Trust (Northern Ireland)
The fundamental role of these regulatory bodies is to ensure that children receive the best possible care in all the settings a child attends away from their home. The systems they have in place will also reassure parents, guardians and carers who have to be able to entrust their child to an organisation or individual to look after. The following information looks at the role of regulatory bodies in relation to home-based childcare.
All home-based childcare providers are required to register with the regulatory body of their country. The regulatory bodies in the UK all have similar registration requirements and regulations in place. The regulations make sure that all home-based childcare providers follow the same structure of care, learning and development for children, which also apply to all other Early Years settings (daycare centres, nurseries, etc.). This structure is implemented to improve the quality and consistency of care in all Early Years settings and therefore also helps to create a framework for an important partnership – the partnership between parents and professionals.
In England this structure is called the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS – birth to five years old) which promotes children to learn through play; covers basic welfare requirements such as safeguarding children; making sure that people who care for children are suitable as well as the premises and equipment used; covers the learning and development requirements for children. It also promotes equality of opportunity for all children
Regulatory bodies have systems and processes in place to control the registration process and the inspections carried out on registered home-based childcare providers. They also have the power to investigate a complaint or concern raised against a childcare provider to make sure the welfare requirements are met. If it emerges that the necessary requirements are not met, regulatory bodies are in a position to take action against the childcare provider.
All these systems are in place to ensure that children receive the best possible care in all the settings they attend away from their home.