Sunday, 27 September 2009

Nanny state

I read this today on the BBC website:

“Parents in England who regularly look after friends' children and receive a "reward" for doing so must register as childminders, regulator Ofsted says.

It said most parents would be exempt but those who babysat for more than two hours at a time, or for more than 14 days per year, should be registered.”

It incensed me.

The last time I checked, a full day of nursery costs for one child was about £50.

The staff that worked in that nursery also made themselves available for babysitting at a rate of £10 per hour.

With that kind of cost, it really doesn’t surprise me that people seek cheaper solutions.  One of the most logical solutions would be a reciprocal arrangement with a friend.  Sharing the job of childcare and avoiding the cost.

It is such an arrangement that Ofsted told two detective constables, Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett, was illegal.  A reciprocal arrangement can be deemed to be a reward.

And if I understand this Ofsted statement correctly, it means that my children cannot be babysat by a friend of mine if we plan to be out of the house for more than two hours and I offer to return the favour.

Equally, when I was a teenager I used to get paid to babysit, sometimes for five or six hours.  This enabled couples and single parents to enjoy the occasional evening out.  This, and the nursery staff that babysit in the evenings to supplement their income, can no longer happen.  It is illegal, unless these individuals register as a childminder with Ofsted.

How puerile.  How utterly ridiculous.  Surely, as a parent, I should be empowered to decide who cares for my children, and if it happens to be a friend or neighbour I trust then that’s my decision.

It might seem strange that I complain about this Nanny State because I rarely go out but it’s the principle that matters here.

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