What is the consultation about?
This consultation is seeking the views of the childcare and playwork sector on some fundamental questions regarding whether the childcare and playwork sector should have a workforce register and if so, who should be included in that register.
If it is decided that a workforce register is to be developed for the childcare and playwork sector, there will be an opportunity for the sector to shape the specific details, such as fees and eligibility criteria, with a further consultation on its development.
What is a workforce register?
A workforce register provides a list of individuals who are able to work in a particular sector. Only those workers listed on the workforce register can work in specific roles.
Criteria outline who is eligible to join the workforce register to ensure that only those with the necessary experience and skills form part of the profession being registered. Registration is then renewed over a specified time frame.
A workforce register can also track and promote the training and experience of those who work in a particular sector. It can be a place to organise and store professional credentials, professional development, education, and employment experience.
Workforce registers would usually be underpinned by a Code of Professional Practice which outlines what is expected of those who are included on the register.
A Code of Professional Practice is usually supported by a Fitness to Practice process. A Fitness to Practice process is typically used to ensure that individuals whose actions do not comply with the Code of Professional Practice can be appropriately supported to improve for example, an individual having to undertake relevant learning/reflection; or in the most serious cases, be removed from the workforce register, thereby preventing them from working in the specified sector.
Don’t we already have a register?
The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) register services, (not individual workers). Their role is to inspect and take action to improve the quality and safety of services. However, childminders as sole traders must register with CIW. Registration for settings is undertaken in the name of a registered persons/responsible individuals (RPs/RIs). CIW are the regulating body for registered settings and do not undertake the same services as a body charged with workforce registration.
Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) currently register childcare and playwork settings. Although childminders and Registered Person/Responsible Individuals have to register, this is because they lead their settings. CIW does not register individual workers.
The requirement for settings to register is laid out in regulation (law). Regulations make clear which settings have to register with CIW. Settings that operate for less than 2 hours a day or less than 6 days a year do not have to register with CIW. These are known as unregistered settings. Those that do have to register with CIW are known as registered settings.
How would a workforce register help me?
The childcare and playwork workforce has a key role to play in supporting children’s development and well being as well as in enabling parents to work and creating supportive communities.
A workforce register makes clear the workforce is a profession with eligibility criteria, renewal requirements around skills and expertise and a code of professional practice. It also provides those working in the sector the ability to save key pieces of information (DBS checks, qualification info, CPD undertaken etc) as well as supports their ongoing professional development.
A workforce register also gives public reassurance and clarity as to the quality of the workforce. In this way, it can add a sense of value to both the workforce and those accessing its services seeking to elevate its standing amongst the general population. A workforce register can also provide accurate and reliable data about the workforce which would help develop a better understanding of its make-up, professional development, and employment needs.
How would a workforce register help the sector?
We know that an experienced and trained workforce is a key driver of quality and a workforce register would provide formal recognition of the specialist skills, knowledge and experience required to work in the childcare and playwork sector. A workforce register would make clear that the workforce is part of an important and valued profession, for example as for teachers and nurses.
A workforce register can also provide individuals with a place to store all of their work related information (confirmation of DBS checks, mandatory training etc). It could also offer recognition and support for continuing professional development (CPD) by offering a one stop shop approach where all work and training and development related records can be stored. It can also help provide the workforce with a profile of their education and training and support them in their future development.
In addition to the benefits set out above, a workforce register will provide employers with reassurance that those registered meet the requirements of a register and adhere to its code of practice.
As a one stop shop, a registry would be a central point to log documents and checks such as qualifications, training certificates, DBS certificates, references. This can enable employers to check key documentation which would enable a smoother recruitment process and allow for easier movement between settings.
How would a workforce register help parents, families and the public?
A workforce register would provide public assurance and confidence that the workforce has the skills, knowledge, and character to care for children safely and effectively.
It can provide even further reassurance when someone who does not adhere to the code of practice for the profession is subject to a fitness to practice process to ensure they have the skills, knowledge and character to practice safely.
As a workforce register enhances the visibility of a professional workforce, it can also promote a better understanding of the workforce and the key role it plays in providing the best start for children-this in turn can help ensure that support for the workforce is developed appropriately.
How will a workforce register affect my work?
A workforce register will not affect how you work. It will simply formalise your role as part of a profession. It won’t change what you do day to day, but it will make clear to the general public that childcare and playwork is a distinct, valued and important profession.
You’ll be able to keep useful records all in one place on the register – such as your DBS checks and qualification information, as well as any CPD that you have undertaken (from listening to a podcast to attending a seminar). A register could also help signpost CPD opportunities or resources that may be of interest to you.
Registers are supported by a Code of Practice which outlines the standards expected of those working in the sector. A Code would not introduce any new expectations or standards but will formalise existing behaviours and standards in areas such as integrity, supporting the wellbeing and safety of others and respecting and promoting the rights of others. Neither will it supersede or replace policies that individual settings already have in place, settings will continue to have their own policies regarding their staff. The Code of Practice is intended to support and align with these.
A Fitness to Practise process will support any register and ensure should any complaints be raised; they are dealt with consistently and thoroughly. The process is there to support the sector. Where individuals are found to have broken the Code of Practice, outcomes can include further learning and reflection, only the most serious cases would result in removal from the register.
If a workforce register goes ahead, who would have to join the register?
Nothing is yet decided, but Welsh Government have made some proposals as to who should join a childcare and playwork register.
Firstly, in keeping with the current approach to regulation and registration in the childcare and playwork sector, and to ensure that the requirement to register is proportionate it is proposed that a workforce register would be mandatory for those individuals paid to work directly with children in CIW registered childcare settings.
This would include individuals working in full day care, sessional day care, open access play provision, out of school care (including registered holiday clubs) and creche settings as well as childminding settings.
This would mean that:
- Individuals working in unregistered settings would not need to join the register.
- Individuals working in registered settings but not directly with children (such as cooks or cleaners) would not need to join the register.
- Volunteers in registered settings would not need to join the register. this includes students undertaking placements at childcare and playwork settings as part of their qualification or those on work experience at the setting.
- Registered Person/Responsible Individuals who do not work directly with children would not need to join the register.
- Nannies would not need to join the register.
I work in an unregistered setting, how will a workforce register affect me?
It is proposed that a workforce register would be mandatory for those individuals paid to work directly with children in CIW registered childcare settings only. But we would encourage those working in unregistered settings to respond to the consultation to provide their views on this and other proposals about a workforce register Welsh Government will also be undertaking work to review the National Minimum Standards and the circumstances where a person providing care would not be required to register (exceptions) It is not yet known what changes if any may result from this work, but it is feasible that changes could be made which support currently unregistered settings to become registered.
How would I join a workforce register?
Many workforce registers have registration criteria, these often include evidence of skills and knowledge provided (either through qualifications or workplace experience) and workforce specific criteria (such as DBS checks in childcare and playwork for example).
If a childcare and playwork workforce register is introduced, any criteria will align to current requirements of the NMS. It will not create any new requirements of staff regarding qualifications.
Registration often needs to be renewed every few years and some registers have renewal criteria focusing on completion of a certain number of professional learning and CPD hours (this can range from listening to a podcast to attending a seminar).
Will there be a cost?
Workforce registers usually incur fees. Typically a fee is paid to join the workforce register and then on an annual and renewal basis. No decision has yet been made on the level of fees and would be subject to further consultation with you. Fees provide a vital contribution to the resources needed to maintain the register by a registering body.
No decision has yet been made as to what fees would be or how fees would be managed but it is likely that the fee would be linked to job role, with manager fees higher than childcare or playwork worker fees. In Scotland, where they already have a workforce register for managers and practitioners in daycare of children services, practitioners pay a registration fee of £35, then an annual fee of £35 and a renewal fee (every 5 years) of £35.
Will wages increase following professional registration?
Registration is not linked to pay. It is for individual employers to set pay rates.
What would be the consequences if I didn’t join the workforce register?
It is proposed that the childcare and playwork workforce register would be mandatory for those working with children in CIW registered settings. That would mean everyone paid to work directly with children in a CIW registered setting would need to join the workforce register to be able to work in the sector.
Employers would need to check that those they employ are on the workforce register. There would be a period of grace for those starting new jobs or who are new to the sector, but after this time registration would be required. If individuals are not registered by this time, they will not be able to continue working in the registered childcare and playwork sector and will have to leave their job.