New childcare initiatives

9th August 2011

  • Over the past 18 months, volunteers from the Parent Carer Forum have been working in partnership with a group of officers from Early Years, SNIPS and the Childminding Network to improve childcare for disabled children in Sheffield. The group was given a ring-fenced budget to work with, and was very willing to take on board parents’ proposals. As a result, the following initiatives have now been implemented:

    Student practitioners
    These are students from relevant higher education courses (e.g. Childcare, Education, Social Work) who have undergone a specialist training programme delivered by the Sheffield Childminding Network. They are CRB checked, registered on the Ofsted Voluntary Register, and looking for paid work as self-employed carers. Student practitioners can provide a flexible childcare service for disabled children of all ages, either in the child’s own home or by taking them out to activities.

    Student volunteers
    These students are also trained and CRB checked, but have less experience and offer a voluntary service (expenses to be paid by the family). Student volunteers can provide an “extra pair of hands” at family outings and activities and/or offer a befriending service, but should not be left in sole charge of children.

    Specialist childminders
    These are childminders who have undergone a specialist training programme to care for disabled children. They are CRB checked, Ofsted registered, and offer paid childcare for children aged 0-16 in the home of the childminder. The childminders are able to access ongoing support and additional funding (if required) to care for children with disabilities.

    Skool’s out
    Skool’s out is a term-time only service for working parents of disabled children aged 8-18. A team of trained and CRB checked outreach workers is available to pick children up from school and take them to activities of their choice. The service is provided by the Burton Street Foundation and subsidised by SNIPS. Parents pay a contribution of £3.25 per hour plus any additional cost for transport and activities.

    Childcare information booklet
    At the beginning of this year we asked parents of disabled children about their information requirements regarding childcare. We received over 100 responses in just 3 weeks, which helped us to identify a number of information gaps. In response to the consultation, Sheffield City Council has now produced an information booklet about childcare for disabled children, which will be available from September.

    For more information about student practitioners/volunteers and specialist childminders, or to order your free copy of the childcare information booklet, please contact the SIGN information service on 0114 2669476 or email

    For more information about Skool’s out, please contact the Burton Street Foundation on 0114 233 2908.