How has COVID-19 impacted Scottish Childminders?

This paper presents the findings from a mixed-methods study which explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Scottish Childminders. We selected 1000 childminders using a stratified, and purposive sampling methods after obtaining a public list of registered childminders from the Care Inspectorate’s online domain; we conducted both online and hybrid styled surveys through the inclusion of semi-structured interviews. Content and thematic analysis supported the qualitative data analysis, while a descriptive and bi-variate analysis as part of the quantitative research design. Prior to the pandemic, consecutive reports by the Care Inspectorate acknowledged a decline in the number of active childminders in Scotland. It is important to identify whether the pandemic may have caused further concern for the viability of the childminding profession and examine the factors which may have contributed to this.

This study examined four key areas: the extent to which childminders were satisfied with the level of support provided to them during the pandemic; the impact of their own perception on the profession, the impact on the future of childminding and the mental health and well-being implications of being a childminder during the pandemic. The data identified that Childminders’ reported feelings of being ignored, undervalued and under-represented due the lack of support, through general and financial assistance from the professional bodies. It was suggested by participants that professional bodies failed to consider childminders’ key role during the pandemic, despite being one of the main childcare providers for keyworker and/or vulnerable children. Several factors led to feelings of being forgotten, but the main issue was the lack of coherency and transparency from the professional bodies, especially the Scottish Government. In terms of announcements and updates, Participants claim that professional bodies were distributing their own interpretation of the guidelines which did not always coincide with the initial update; this left them reliant on the Scottish Childminding Association as a reliable source of support. A major finding identified that 53% of participating childminders agreed that their future in childminding has now changed as a result of the pandemic. They supported this by acknowledging the efforts of COVID-19 on their mental health due to the stresses and pressures of providing childcare during the pandemic, with financial difficulties and an increased expectation of childminders being associated factors. Participants recommend better quality support for those within the profession and recognition of the efforts that were made during the pandemic.