Monday, September 28, 2009


The Children's Minister has ordered a review of the case of two police officers told they had broken the law by caring for each other's children.
Ofsted said the arrangement contravened the Childcare Act because it lasted for longer than two hours a day, and constituted receiving "a reward".
It said the women would have to be registered as childminders.
Minister Vernon Coaker said his department was talking to Ofsted about this particular case.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Ofsted told two detective constables, Leanne Shepherd, from Milton Keynes, and Lucy Jarrett, from Buckingham, to end their arrangement.
Ms Shepherd told the newspaper: "When the Ofsted inspector turned up, the first thing she said was: 'I have had a report that you're running an illegal childminding business'.
"I straightaway thought she must be mistaken, so invited her into my home to explain we were police officers and best friends helping each other out.
"But she told me I was breaking the law and must end the arrangement with Lucy immediately.
"I was stunned, completely devastated... I couldn't see how I could continue working."

According to the newspaper, the Thames Valley officer is believed to have been reported by a neighbour.
Thames Valley Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the pair had its "full support".
Secretary Andy Viney said: "Both of them are experienced professional officers.
"They just want to return to work after having children and have found that the system is working totally against them.
"They've been threatened with prosecution by Ofsted if they continue doing this."
An Ofsted spokesman said it applied regulations found in the Childcare Act 2006, but was currently discussing the interpretation of the word "reward" with the department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).
"Reward is not just a case of money changing hands. The supply of services or goods and, in some circumstances, reciprocal arrangements can also constitute reward.
"Generally, mothers who look after each other's children are not providing childminding for which registration is required, as exemptions apply to them, for example because the care is for less than two hours or it takes place on less than 14 days in a year.
"Where such arrangements are regular and for longer periods, then registration is usually required."
Close relatives of children, such as grandparents, siblings, aunts or uncles, were exempt from the rules, he added.
But Michelle Elliott, director of the children's charity Kidscape, told the BBC's Breakfast programme that the decision defied common sense and would impose extra childcare costs on families.
She added: "These children were looked after in a secure environment with people that they knew.
"There must be thousands of people out there who are doing the same thing who are now going to think: 'Do I have to spend £300 a week or whatever it is?'"
Minister for Children, Schools and Families Vernon Coaker insisted the Childcare Act 2006 was in place "to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children" but the government needed to make sure it did not "penalise hard-working families".
"My department is speaking to Ofsted about the interpretation of the word 'reward' in this particular case," he said.

A petition to scrap the rules governing reciprocal child care on the Number 10 website had gathered more than 5,300 signatures by 0530 BST on Monday.
Anyone required to register to become a childminder would also have to undergo a criminal records check.



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