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Childcare – Out Of Our Hands

October 1, 2009

Common sense at the moment seems to be leaving this country faster than multi millionaires on hearing they’ll soon have to pay 50% tax. Here’s a story of two women, who were best friends. They worked at the same place and when they found they were having children at around the same time, promised to look after each other’s precious bundles once they resumed work sharing a full time job. As one went to work, the other cared for the children and vice versa. It was a perfect arrangement. Childcare was sorted, the children were growing up together in a safe and familiar environment and everyone was happy. Well, not everyone, because someone in their wisdom (or was it malice?) decided to tell OFSTED who were swift in dismantling this happy set up. According to their rules, the job sharing deal the mothers had made was judged as a ‘reward’, though money never changed hands, ergo, they were running an Illegal childminding business. These transgressors by the way were Policewomen.

The behemoth called bureaucracy helmed by this Government continues to stamp on the individuality and instincts of this country’s citizens, creating little actual value. This story is a close relative of the other report that cropped up in the last month where those who regularly volunteer to drive children to sports and social clubs will soon have to apply for CRB checks. Childcare arrangements between friends and neighbours have been going on for decades and although there have been some terrible cases of abuse; on the whole it’s a formula that’s worked. I’m sure you can recall memories of ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ who were not blood related but were a large and happy part of your life. These unofficial arrangements, along with many others have now effectively been criminalised. If it’s not on a form filled out in triplicate, with a fee attached, it’s invalid. It’s another example of how maintaining a community is being legislated out of us. Trust will be soon be eroded, a quality which is needed more than ever in these turbulent times.

The reasons for these laws are sound and necessary. We must protect our children from those who wish to harm them, but if you throw this net so wide that you catch harmless Dolphins as well as dangerous Sharks, you are diluting the effectiveness of these laws. At the time of writing, a review of this case is under way, probably as a result of the public backlash. Hopefully, the authorities will apply their rarely utilised common sense and revise this so it works in the interest of everyone. We shall see.

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