WARWICKSHIRE County Council has urged parents to be cautious in choosing childcare as more and more websites are not undertaking sufficient checks to verify providers’ credentials.
Warwickshire County Council’s Family Information Service is working with the National Association of Family Information Services (NAFIS) to exert pressure on the sites to enable users to find links to their local Family Information Service and Ofsted reports along with a clear explanation regarding the need to use legally registered childcare providers.
Signposting to childcare is of very variable quality. One FIS found a site where a local 16 year old girl was seeking work as a childminder whilst another authority uncovered a site showing a provider who had been suspended by Ofsted.
Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for children, young people and families, said: “We urge people to be cautious when looking for childcare through an unregulated site. We would not advise avoiding the sites altogether; they have many other valuable services such as parent forums or trained online counsellors.
“However, choosing childcare is not an area where it is possible to be too careful. Parents should never post online looking for people to look after their children which we have seen.
“Our message is clear. Take what is useful from these websites but for the matter of arranging childcare, go through the Family Information Service to get an up to date list of local providers that are appropriately registered with Ofsted.
“We will continue to work with NAFIS to ensure that the content of websites is improved and that signposting to inappropriate web content is removed.”
For advice on childcare in Warwickshire, call 0845 0908044 or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/childcare.