A dedicated childminders conference is coming to Sussex next month to fill the ‘support gap’ left by council funding cuts.
The conference, ‘Minding the Gap’, is aimed primarily at childminders but is open to all early years practitioners and is taking place at the University of Brighton on Saturday, March 25.
Rebecca Martland, a registered childminder and co-organiser of the event, said due to funding cuts by the council, advice and training for childminders had ‘drastically reduced’ – which had resulted in a ‘substantial decline’ in support.
She said: “We are excited to be putting on this conference, with the intention of filling some of this gap and providing an affordable and accessible professional development opportunity.
“The council used to offer regular CPD events such as conferences, usually free or heavily subsidised. Budget and staff cuts have seen these events disappear.
“This situation has had a profound effect on the childminding community who already found it difficult to attend training, given their long working hours and reliance on them by families using their service and this has had a major impact on other childcare settings, who are struggling to meet day-to-day running costs themselves.”
Rebecca, who is also co-founder of Magic Minders, a childminding association in Worthing, hopes to attract up to 200 childminders and early years practitioners to the university in Lewes Road.
The overall theme is supporting children to overcome disadvantage and improve outcomes through the provision of high quality, nurturing care and education.
The day will include a two-course lunch, market place, networking opportunities, goody bags along with keynote speakers, Penny Tassoni, president of Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and Kay Mathieson, an experienced early years trainer, consultant and author.
A range of workshops will also be on offer by early years experts who are equally passionate in sharing their knowledge and experience.
Alison Featherbe, a former Brighton and Hove early years development officer, who now runs her own trainee and consultancy business, Orange Caterpillar, has also helped organise the event.
She has set up a number of Facebook support groups for early years practitioners in Sussex.
The pair realised that in order to make the event accessible to childminders, ticket prices would have to be kept ‘as low as possible’.
“Given that the majority of childminders have low operating profits and earn minimum wage or less, childminders have expressed disappointment that many national events charge in excess of £300 which is beyond their means,” Rebecca added.
Tickets cost £85 and are available by downloading and returning a completed booking form here.
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