Friends may care for each other’s children (UK)

Guardian (UK) 12 October 2009

Friends who look after each other’s children will no longer have to undergo criminal record checks and take childcare courses to make their arrangements legal, the children’s secretary, Ed Balls, revealed today. He has written to the children’s services watchdog, Ofsted, saying the law should not interfere with reciprocal childcare arrangements between parents where money is not involved.

Regulations introduced in 2006 make it compulsory for anyone who babysits for another person’s child for more than two hours at a time, or on more than 14 days per year, and receives a “reward” – either money or simply free babysitting in return – to register as childminders with the authorities. That involves going through criminal record checks and taking childcare courses. Ministers have been trying to clear up confusion over the regulations in England in recent weeks, after two police officers were told they were breaking the law by looking after each other’s young daughters.