TWO mothers fear that they will have to give up their jobs and could even lose their homes if they are inspected by Ofsted for caring for each other’s children in the school holidays.
Both women, who do not want to be named, look after each other’s children for four hours a day over two days a week while each works during the holidays.
If this is interpreted by the children’s services watchdog to be illegal childminding, then both Poole parents will have to give up their jobs because they are not eligible for help with childcare costs from the government.
The worry among many parents in England comes after two police officers in Buckinghamshire were told they were breaking the law by caring for each other’s children without being registered.
One of the Poole women said: “For me, paying for childcare would defeat the object of going to work and me and my husband would actually be worse off.
“We would not qualify for childcare and so I would not be able to go to work. I don’t see how this can work when in the long term, there will be more people claiming either benefits for childcare or because they cannot work at all. It is ridiculous.”
The second mother added: “Without my job I could not pay my mortgage and would lose my home at the end of the day.
“Being a single parent, I do not have a lot of people to help me out, and this way, at least I know who my child is with and that she enjoys the company of the other kids.”
In the regulations under the Childcare Act, introduced three years ago, anyone who receives a reward, not necessarily monetary, for caring for children must undergo the relevant checks and registration or face a fine of up to £5,000.
The complex rules do not apply between the hours of 6pm and 2am as long as the child is in their own home and it is acceptable for family members to look after your children.
However, the regulations mean that it is illegal to look after someone else’s child for more than two hours, and is likely to be seen as a formal arrangement if it takes place on more than 14 days in a year and is done for a reward in the shape of free childcare.
A spokesperson from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said childcare rules were not intended to “interfere in informal arrangements” and it was trying to clear up the confusion over the interpretation of what constitutes a “reward”.