Tricia Pritchard questions the disjointed approach being taken by the Government concerning the registration of nannies.
PANN – the Professional Association of Nursery Nurses – has campaigned for a long time for the registration of nannies and the regulation of nanny agencies, and they are about to have yet another big push to highlight that nannies are not registered or regulated, even though there are about to be effectively five new registers for people working with children and young people!
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 provides the legal framework for the new Vetting & Barring Scheme. The Act was created in response to Recommendation 19 of the Bichard Inquiry Report following the Soham murders, which states, "New arrangements should be introduced requiring those who wish to work with children, or vulnerable adults, to be registered".
In March 2005 Sir Michael Bichard endorsed the proposals of the Department for Education and Skills and Department of Health to implement Recommendation 19 through the development o a "central scheme" whereby unsuitable people would be barred from working with children and / or vulnerable adults.
The Vetting and Barring Scheme is based on two barred lists. Nannies will not be required to register on the Vetting and Barring Scheme, and parents employing nannies will not be obliged to check the Vetting and Barring Scheme before recruiting a person to care for their children in their own home.
From 1 April 2007 Ofsted underwent some major changes with the creation of three new registers: The Ofsted Childcare Register, The Voluntary Ofsted Childcare Register, and The Early Years Register. Nannies can register with the Voluntary Ofsted Register but at a cost of over £100 plus the charges for checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.
In view of these costs, what is the incentive for nannies to register if there is no requirement for them to do so?
The Soham murders exposed a disjointed system where different police forces and other authorities and organisations knew a little about Ian Huntley but no system was in place where the known information was collated and brought together. We do not believe that the existence of five new registers and two very separate organisations creates what Bichard meant by a "central scheme".
Many nannies work up to 50 hours per week unsupervised, and yet there is no requirement for them to register. The creation of two new systems and five registers is a recipe for chaos, and it is hard to see how it will help to offer the real protection which children need and deserve.