Jemma minds her own business when it comes to childcare
A pilot project to recruit more professional childminders in rural locations across Scotland has been launched.
The Scottish Rural Childminding Partnership aims to support economic and community development through the creation of 130 new professional childminding jobs and over 900 much-needed childcare spaces for families in 10 remote and rural regions.
The pilot is led by the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) with partnership funding from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
It aims to recruit more people like Jemma Hogan, 26, from Inverness who has been involved in childminding since she was 15, initially assisting her mum with her childminding business, before setting up her own business when her mum took a step back. She currently looks after 10 children, with the help of two assistants.
Jemma said: “I was working with my mum as an assistant, then I went to New Zealand for six months to become a nanny, then came back to Scotland and did my SVQ level 3 in early education and child development, which was brilliant to help me reflect on the skills that I already had. It was strange because I know my job really well, but putting it into words in essays etc was a whole different ball game.”
“I’ve also done lots of other courses which you need to do when you’re a childminder such as first aid, child protection, and food, health & hygiene.
“I’ve also done a Makaton course, which is a really good communication tool which has helped me develop children’s communication as it’s a visual tool for those who aren’t vocal, which is great.
“I had three children at one point who were non-verbal and it was lovely that I was able to break into their world a little bit by what I’d learned on that course.”
Like many other childminders, Jemma faced challenges as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It meant that many people were working from home and didn’t depend on the childminding services as much.
Jemma said “It was good to see some positives like families being able to spend more time together during this period, but I’ve also seen some negatives, like families not being able to get some help that they needed.
“I felt quite proud that I was able to help some of my families during this time, by getting them some of the support that they needed and able to help out with difficult family situations.
“Childminding can be really vital to families because at times you can be full on family support in critical situations, and your space is a space where the children can feel safe.”
Jemma says that being a childminder is such a rewarding career: “There’s so much pride as you are part of a family’s journey, seeing the children grow and develop and start to make their way in the world. Childminding is so unique in that we care for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers.
There’s so much pride as you are part of a family’s journey, seeing the children grow and develop and start to make their way in the world. Childminding is so unique in that we care for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers.
“I love the flexibility of the job and working from home. I love the way we (me and the children) can just decide what to do, the other day I asked the children what they wanted to do and they said ‘go to the woods’, so we wrapped up, took our lunch and went down to the woods to explore and eat lunch.
“And other days they just want to be cosy watching a film on the couch, or out on the climbing frame, or getting new fish for the fish tank. No two days are the same.”
What advice does Jemma have for anyone considering becoming a childminder? “I’d say go for it. It can take a while to establish yourself, but I’d suggest you get to know your own setting first, take a lot of time to think about it, check out with other childminders about their settings and figure out the way that you would like to do it.
“I’m unique in that I’ve done it since I was really young, and I’m a terrible businesswoman – I’d happily do my job for free if there weren’t bills to be paid! It can be a bit of a challenge to start with, but stick with it as it’s the most rewarding job.”
The Scottish Rural Childminding Partnership pilot targets 10 regions Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Moray, North Ayrshire (Arran and Cumbrae), Orkney, Scottish Borders, Shetland, Stirling and the Western Isles.
Mili Shukla, SDS sector manager for health and social care said: “This is an important national initiative, targeted in remote and rural areas which aims to create 130 new, sustainable childminding businesses and support skills development.
“We are happy to be partnering with SCMA and Highlands & Islands and South of Scotland Enterprise agencies in this innovative approach to help to increase opportunities for growth in remote and rural communities.”